Some years ago students still had separate classes of geography and history, but then in several countries they were joined in one hour per week with World Orientation. Time is here that we should make work again for presenting more hours of education about Europe and the necessity of the European Union.
The last few years several populist politicians want to have most people to believe we would be better off without Europe. At the same time it looks like Europe was bombarded with several crisis’s, one after the other.
In the global recession, EU countries and the world economy sank into its biggest crisis since the Wall Street Crash in the 1930s. At that time, it led to the rise of Nazism and Fascism in Germany and Italy. I can’t help it, but nowadays I also have to think a lot about that period and I also notice how so many people are swept away by boisterous language. Today we are also several times confronted with hate talk against people who are different than the majority or who have an other religion than the mainstream.
The failing economies of Spain, Ireland, Greece, Italy and Portugal, them losing sovereignty over control of their finances was a drop of oil on the hot plate. The bailouts of those countries crucially came with harsh austerity imposed amongst member states across Europe. This led to the rise in populism across Spain with the rise of the right-wing Spanish Vox party as well as the left-wing populist party Podemos to some extent.
The Arab Spring crisis in Syria which escalated heavily in 2014, caused an extra influx of migrants to European shores and borders, presenting a seizure in South Italy and the Greek islands. Trying to find their way into the other countries of Europe Countries Hungary felt the migration crisis more than most other EU member states due to the influx of migrants passing their border.
With the growing populism, questions are raised in which way far right movements can be allowed and how the parliament should react to groups like the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the political group in the European Parliament of the Party of European Socialists (PES).
One may argue, that if EU parties worked together to defeat populism, they would be able to act as one voice and would increase the chances of the federalisation process of the EU. The overall aim of the populist movements and parties together, whether they are united or not, is to undermine the EU and its structures.
One good thing is that the populists movements are so different and not prepared to work together, at the same time spreading lots of leis of others, making it easier for us to show their weak spots. Therefore EU parties, should come to act as a single movement, putting aside all their own political agendas and views, working together against the populist movement in the European parliament, to destabilise the populist movement.
Though that working together the last few years seems to be so very difficult.
In case EU parties would be willing more to work together to cooperate on laws cracking down on populists who undermine the rule of law, the Union can be made stronger. First of all we should focus on those who are the easy pray of the populists and come to open their eyes. This requires giving much more information about what and how the European Union works. Secondly the Union has to require more that every one in the Union keeps to those things they voted for. Too often we could see that several countries did not want to put up their hand or give the others who did not keep to the set regulations a sever warning. This way we could see that countries such as Hungary and Poland could get away unpunished with many things we should not allow in the Democratic Union.
The Hungarian government of Orbán, last year, tried to undermine the rule of law by interfering in the judicial process by appointing their own judges. The EU decided to invoke Article 7 which could have led to the suspension of Hungary and Poland’s voting rights but action was never taken further. Hungary has also undermined the Acquire Communitaire, part of the Copenhagen Criteria by disrespecting basic human rights. They did this by declaring homelessness as illegal in an attempt to decrease the influx of migrants into Hungary.
If EU parties decided to work together as one movement against the populist movement, they would be able to defeat the populist movement by cracking down on member states which undermine basic human rights.
The successor to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group which existed during the sixth, seventh and eighth terms from 2004 to 2019, reformed for the Ninth European Parliament term became Renew Europe (RE) , after temporarily having styled itself “ALDE plus Renaissance plus USR Plus“, talked about meeting up in order to cooperate in the next European parliament over the next five years.
We all should be aware that the future of Europe and of the EU will be shaped and developed by our young people – by the students sitting in classrooms today. Them being lured by social media, mostly only reading short attractive titles on Facebook, and/or going to striking and remarkable stories (usually not true) should come to see how populists make use of those media for their propaganda and fake news.
The foundations of the youngsters their perceptions of and attitudes towards developments in Europe and the EU, and of their according them value, or rejecting them, were already being laid in class and during discussions at school, but should get even more time.
The aim of a “Teaching Europe” initiative would be to put more emphasis on Europe and the EU in teaching in schools, and to highlight the EU’s main achievements and its future challenges. The way the history of the EU Member States is taught should also be taken into consideration. As an idea, easy-to-use teaching materials could be developed, which would explain, among other issues, the role played by the EESC, civil society and the social partners.
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