EPM Barcelona, with the theme “No one left behind”, concluded on the 9th of February 2020. But unfortunately, 31 January 2020 left behind a crack in what AEGEE stands for; the day of Brexit.
The Big Ben will not bong for Brexit, after projected costs spiralled to half a million pounds (half of that money was already collected through racing online donations though, Ed.). For those disappointed from this impossibility, the government confirmed that a clock counting down to the second the United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31 would be projected onto the bricks of Downing Street as part of government plans to mark Brexit.
The beginning of this statement from a youth-led organisation like AEGEE-Europe aims to highlight two different perspectives that BREXIT has already or will definitely bring to reality. The first one is, of course, the most precious thing that we all have and that can never be taken back: the Time, analysed by the different feelings it can produce.
With all its facets, during last months’ unsure developments, time has been a resource that was passing by fast enough to postpone the fateful day of leaving the European Union, especially for those that still professed themselves as remainers and seeked another referendum.
In just a few weeks time though, 2020 started with pretty different signals and the last UK general elections made even more clear that there’s only a result possible for this entire affair, the United Kingdom leaving the EU political family on the 31st of January. With no further delays whatsoever, this time.
While the so-desidered bong will likely not happen, for many citizens it was a matter of national pride rather than a symbolic happening, justifying thousands of pounds donated in few hours to mark as loud as possible this fateful event.
Time has been indeed a factor from the day that the referendum took place and now more time will be needed to comprehend the potentially negative upcoming impact that new generations from all around Europe could suffer from, in terms of educational opportunities, job markets and human connections that makes this Union a place to stay, to improve yes, definitely, but not to Leave.
The second perspective is exactly represented by the consequences of BREXIT.
Previewed, studied, challenged by the strongest Brexiteers, we find ourselves reflecting on what this unforgettable event will determine for our lives. Whether we focus on the hopeful European DNA that a member State like the United Kingdom has maybe never completely developed, or on the strong opposition that Scottish citizens have made clear with their votes, or even on the opportunity that the upcoming Conference of Europe might offer to progress, surpassing this British crisis, we feel to bring our attention to the aspects that this event highlights as extremely relevant for the vision and the mission of AEGEE-Europe, the European Students’ Forum.
Starting from our vision, AEGEE strives for a democratic, diverse and borderless Europe, which is socially, economically and politically integrated, and values the participation of young people in its construction and development.
The values and the ideal goals that come to our minds reading this can only confirm that BREXIT is a significant step-back in the process of a more borderless Europe, where economic and political integration is strongly challenged by populism, nationalist leaders and not open for a concrete youth engagement.
New electronic visa procedure will probably take place, costs will raise up for those interested to visit or move to UK, less chances to develop common initiatives with European countries and youth-organisations like AEGEE will be the new norm.
AEGEE creates as well concrete spaces for dialogue and learning opportunities, strengthens mutual understanding and brings Europe closer to young people.
Many examples of virtuous campaigns and activities have been developed, such as Y Vote Project to develop, empower and involve new voters for the 2019 European Elections. And Again the Agoras twice a year, study visits, regional training courses and an upcoming the European Planning Meetings, the event that prepares the way for the next years of this youth-led organisation.
We are just quoting examples that ensure the vital spaces that young people desperately need to express themselves, to engage in long-term goals and to create meaningful connections with fellow peers coming from all over the Continent, well beyond the 27 (now it is official) EU Member States. While procedures would be more complicated to travel and join these specific moments, UK Citizens will hopefully still be able to keep this bond alive and continue improving their critical skills, in order to become more aware and empowered citizens.
We have already introduced several perspectives that BREXIT includes and those deserve a structured reflection. One of the main reasons this entire political mess became a concrete event has for sure been the lack of good informational campaigns prior to the referendum, when wrong economic and refugees data were published and a limited effort from Cameron’s government to provide valid reasons to vote Remain, for all those citizens that didn’t have a clear idea in mind, made the real difference.
It is not our duty at this point to discuss further the reasons behind this result.
While we are absolutely in need of discussing the effects that may change the reality we are currently living in. Both the situation in Northern Ireland and Scotland could bring unexpected events to reality. Young scottish who had the opportunity of leaving for an Erasmus+ experience are among the strong remainers that are pushing for another referendum to leave, this time, the United Kingdom. While there is little chance that the government will allow another public consultation after the vote in 2014, the factors to be considered have changed and the EU might see, one day, Scots joining as its 28th Member State.
To conclude this European statement, we should consider the symbolic vote of the House of Commons, the one that left open doors for a future negotiation between UK and EU for the continuation as full-member of the Erasmus+ program. It appears to be a logical choice for Downing Street, not to take compulsory long-term obligations before leaving officially the European family. What we can predict is that EU institutions will not give away that easily this specific agreement without ensuring that EU students, youth workers and the general workers as a whole will receive the same benefits and fully granted rights.
Finally, we can probably agree that Brexit has become for a while a curious telenova to follow. Incomprehensible moves, delays after delays, unsure political stands from the main opposition party marked a historical event, and only history books will manage to clarify whether it was a great decision for their future or a crucial turning point for the other 27 countries to make progress for a closer and more United Europe.
Till the moment a specific chapter of a future history book will be printed, our commitment for a democratic, diverse and borderless Europe will continue, starting from the inputs that we might give to contribute to the success of the Conference on the Future of Europe.
“The future of Europe is our future”. At the end of the day somebody call it Europe, but we call it Home!