The idea of MovEuropeForward bus tour project convinced me right away. Its main aim is to bring the European Union closer to its citizens by organising public exchange on European issues and the upcoming elections. I liked the concept that much that I applied for accompanying the tour as a volunteer. Thus, since Tuesday the 28th of April, I am on tour. My experiences showed me that the MovEuropeForward bus tour is not only a good idea, but that initiatives like these are necessary to create, keep and strengthen the link between the EU and its citizens.
The activities in Maastricht, Münster and Graz made it clear to me how important it is to exchange with others on European issues. I realised more than ever before that we as Young European Federalists or even students of social science are living in a bubble.
The activities in Maastricht, Münster and Graz made it clear to me how important it is to exchange with others on European issues. I realised more than ever before that we as Young European Federalists or even students of social science are living in a bubbleWe have similar opinions on a lot of topics, similar views on politics, on the European Union and the world. We JEFers are mostly students or ex-students, lots of us study even political science, European studies or International relations. Therefore we are rarely confronted with citizens who think completely differently about European issues. Brussels in this sense is a “super bubble” of Europeans thinking similarly about European issues.
Throughout the exchange with passers-by I found two things striking: First of all the activities showed how little some people know about the European Union: in our history game, some participants were wondering about when Norway, Iceland or even Turkey joined the EU. None of these three countries are currently in the EU and the chances that they will enter the Union in the near future are rather slim. Secondly, I had conversations with people who were very well informed about European issues as well as domestic politics. But they interpret and evaluate policies, events and actions of political actors in a very different way than I and my student Europe bubble do.
Secondly, I had conversations with people who were very well informed about European issues as well as domestic politics. But they interpret and evaluate policies, events and actions of political actors in a very different way than I and my student Europe bubble do.
A very striking example was a French student of economics who said he is probably going to vote for the French populist right wing party “Front National” (FN) in the European elections and voted for it during the recent French municipals. I discussed with him for about half an hour. He was strongly frustrated about politics. He claimed France is in a kind of inner crisis, a lot of French citizens do not have any trust in the current government. He said the FN is the only party who wants to do something for improving the French situation. He said he likes the European idea, but that he is against the current European Union where bankers and big companies just fill their pockets. He also called me naïve, because being an NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) nobody would listen to our concerns and wishes for Europe’s future.
These critical debates gave me the certainty that organisations like JEF and initiatives like the MovEurope bus tour are most important to strengthen the European idea of living together in unity, respecting our diversity and cultural richness. To integrate the “average citizen” into European debates, we do not only need to have a better media coverage of the European elections, sending the duels of the election candidates on prime television time in every member state.
We have to motivate and create occasions of public exchange on European issues. Especially we – the young generation – must take part in shaping the EU according to our ideas and dreams!