A hard fought for policy is now more important than ever.
Why is it happening ?
The 2016 PES (Party of European Socialists) European Photographic Competition was won, in December 2016, by Antonella Candiago; her winning photograph above. The title of the competition was “Imagine Europe without Borders” and sought images which caught the idea from those aged 18+.
A borderless Europe, despite Brexit, first allows all EU citizens—whether within or without the European Economic Area—to travel freely for education regardless of the member state of origin. Second, the free flow of goods enables new businesses to grow and more established ones to maintain a certain degree of certainty to plan ahead and prosper in the future. Third, and most importantly, free movement allows ideas to be exchanged and mindsets to change.
Why does it matter?
At a time of such upheaval within the European Union, a borderless Europe is now more important than ever. It is more than likely that parties on the right of the political spectrum, such as Front National in France, will increasingly push for more barriers as elections across Europe are approaching. This will be normalized through the lens of xenophobia and suggestions that immigration has been bad for economies of Europe, with nationals losing out to immigrants.
Given the oncoming, and potentially economically catastrophic, force of Ms Theresa May’s self imposed “Very Hard Brexit”, the first recourse might be to rebuild old barriers and therefore stop a borderless Europe. But to do so would be to deny what the EU has been good for—engendering peace across Europe. As Mr Guy Verhofstadt, President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE Group) of the European Parliament, rightly pointed out in his tweet, Europe has been at peace for 72 years now, the longest period without war since the 1600s. This has been ensured thanks, in no small part, to the co-operation fostered by a borderless Europe. A Europe of borders that the emerging populist forces and Brexiteers propagate could endanger this long lasting and historic period of peace.
What can you do about it?
As The Intelligence Brief previously explained, Ms Gina Miller has launched a new campaign against Brexit in the UK. On a local level, it would be advantageous to join this mailing list to gain an understanding of what she is doing to buttress Parliament’s negotiating power over Article 50. Having done this, the importance of a borderless Europe must be made plain to elected representatives in the UK by email, letter or in their Constituency Surgery. Additionally, any correspondence must highlight the significance of ensuring that public policy does not engender xenophobia by exacerbating division.
As Ms Candiago‘s winning photograph suggests, borders can be overcome by education that opens minds for acceptance, inclusion, understanding, and progress. It is crucial that the Millennial voice is heard at all levels, as any policy making moving forward is likely to impact this generation more harshly than any other age group. In this respect co-operating with others will be vital—one voice can be easily ignored but a group cannot. In other words, do not be afraid.
Image Credit: PES European Photographic Competition
Owain Gardner briefs from North Yorkshire, UK. He has a Master of Arts in Politics from the Queen's University Belfast.