All is not well in Europe, it’s time to stand up for it

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.COM Ltd.

Brussels will be hosting a Pulse of Europe event this Sunday. [Martin Kraft/ Flickr]

Pulse of Europe? Do we need it? In the end, the French elections went OK: Marine Le Pen lost and pro-European President Emmanuel Macron won. So that’s that… Well, maybe it’s not that simple, warns Utta Tuttlies.

Utta Tuttlies is co-founder of the Pulse of Europe movement. The next event in Brussels is this Sunday (4 June) at 2pm in Place de La Monnaie.

Look at the situation we’re in. We have US President Donald Trump insulting Europe and other international leaders. We have the White House spokesperson denying true facts at basically every press conference he gives.

We have the elections in Austria coming up, where only a couple of months ago the far right FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache only lost by the slightest margin.

We have elections in the UK, driving the upcoming Brexit, a country which now faces the possibility of a very hard Brexit due to an irresponsible and lying UKIP leader Nigel Farage and others in the Conservative camp.

We are facing parliamentary elections in June in France – where despite the Macron win, we should not forget that close to 40% of the people opted for the racist rhetoric and politics of a Marine Le Pen in the second round of the presidential elections.

Elections now mooted for early September in Italy with extremists like the Lega Nord still strong and populists like Beppe Grillo taking office in Rome, with corruption allegations from day one against the new young mayor, the so-called next generation of Five Star Movement leadership.

We have elections in Germany in mid-September. Yes – from a European perspective there’s no real threat. The two candidates of the largest political parties both have a pro-European outlook and track record, Merkel and Schulz.

Yet – the far-right, extremist, racist and populist party AfD is continuously growing its voter basis and is now represented in 12 states.

So all is fine and we can just stay home? Let the politicians do the job and then complain if we see more and more walls being built? Schengen reversed? Basic EU rights and fundamental values being turned back in Poland and many Eastern European countries? And allow Hungary to continue its assault on democracy and possibly face sanctions for breach of basic EU laws and rights?

All fine in Europe and at a global level? I don’t think so. I am confident that traditional parties and party structures have their role and function in our societies.

But in these politically sensitive and in fact “Realpolitik” times, a citizen-driven positive movement like Pulse of Europe can only help. It does not replace parties, nor does it want to become one or ask for such a function.

It stands against the negative, hate-driven and fake news-driven approach we are faced with in our daily lives today.

Every morning we wake up with the shocking news coming from across the Atlantic communicated by an aggressive president during the night. A president who denies climate change and the freedom of the press. A president who wants to build walls and let others pay for them.

No – in such a climate I cannot stay home and be quiet. I prefer going to the streets and doing something for the European project I believe in. I am convinced that Europe will bring a better future for all of us. And that there is more in this world than destruction and hate. A brighter future ahead of us, a better one, an integrated, open and inclusive one.

It is your future too.

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