Thalia Ntoka, Chair of the Steering Committee of ALDE Individual Members wrote this piece for Liberal Bullettin. We republish it on our blog
23-26 May 2019: save these dates in your calendar and go vote in the European elections.
Before sharing information on ‘how’ and ‘who’, let’s remind ourselves that 2019 can become our year. If not from the perspective of dynamics, then definitely from the basis that the result of these European elections will probably change the way we live.
It is true that people are not interested in the European elections. They seem boring – more than 700 new (and some old) faces will relocate for five years, will get high salaries, will disappear from their countries for a long time, will vote for some legislation we do not understand and five years later, many of them will come back, probably asking for your vote. So, what is the point?
We belong in Europe. For many, Europe is just an idea or a place with boundaries that occasionally change whilst our rights and obligations strictly remain inside the country we live in. This is the biggest myth populists use to convince someone that Europe is just a geographic area with no other function or point.
But let’s first have a look at some facts and then decide whether European elections mean anything at all.
We have the freedom to travel, live and work everywhere – select one of the EU Member States, and there you are! You think it’s the national parliaments which achieved that? Wrong!
Thanks to Europe, around 500 million people can cross the borders easily and travel without fear. Our common market works no matter what populists say and recently, data became accessible free of roaming charges, so thank you Europe
Do you think that the Single Market is not a European achievement? Well, think again! We now cherish the biggest Single Market in the world when it comes to goods and services. You like a camera and want to purchase it but can’t find it in your country? Go ahead and buy it from Germany, there is no import tax. Big companies work better, millions of employees relocate all the time with no issue, so thank Europe again!
Many of us don’t really know what wars or border controls are, and if we take a look at the history, we should be thankful for that. It is Europe that managed to create one of the most democratic and peaceful regions in the world and that gave us the ability to not just feel but actually live in freedom.
Are you aware of the Paris Agreement? No matter what climate change deniers say, climate change is here and thanks to the policies of the European Union, we can reduce CO2 emissions to protect our planet and the generations to come. Only recently, an EU strategy on reducing plastic use by 2030 was adopted.
There are many other achievements, of course, but also many challenges.
Brexit, migration, youth unemployment and data privacy issues have recently harmed the trust many have in the European project, but think of how much worse off things could be if there was no common voice or strategy.
As ALDE Individual Members, we are not just seeking for answers but solutions, which will keep Europe and our future safe.
We know how difficult it is to build communities and share our values, but we also know this is not time lost, and we must make up ground the best we can. The time for this has come!
With less than a month to go before the European elections, it is time to become more active than ever. Thankfully, all of us can take action. You can start small by telling your friends to join and support liberal ideas. You can organise events and share the message on why these elections are so important. You can use social media for the right cause, by spreading the message all over Europe. You can get involved in the ALDE Party’s electoral campaign. You can write articles or become vloggers.
Whatever you do, do not stay silent. Do not leave the ground to those who hate Europe, as they are many and they live where we live. We can do better and must show that liberalism is not just an idea but a way of life.
I won’t tell you who to support, you know better, so go and make the right choice for the future of Europe.
On 26 May I will personally celebrate, not only for my birthday, but I will dedicate this special day to you, to us, to Europe!