We asked you what you appreciated most about the EU and the theme that appeared most often amongst our many contributors was the peace and stability the EU has enabled for 7 decades.
Kim from the United Kingdom told us “to me the EU is about positive forces in life; openness, tolerance, peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, appreciation of different cultures, freedom and adventure. Never has the European project looked so exciting”.
Ivo from Croatia stressed the importance of remembering the past “we should remind ourselves how fortunate we are to live in peace and prosperity and we should not take it for granted.”
Philip from Ireland shared his thoughts on the success of the EU “I really believe in the EU project because its brought peace to our continent … the EU is a beacon for democracy and diplomacy in the world.”
Radovan from Belgium said “The EU is a unique project ….. it has helped maintain the peace and well-being of Europeans and many other nations outside of Europe”
And Stephen from Belgium said “if the European Union has achieved anything, its peace. Every word exchanged in Strasbourg or Brussels is eternally more valuable than the weapons and wars replaced by this. Being diverse in unity, bringing people together and shaping this continent of rich and various cultures is the essence of the EU project.”
We wholeheartedly concur with all of the above. In fact creating the political environment to sustain a lasting peace in Europe is exactly where the European Union of today originated from. The founding of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952 was designed to bind European countries with strong interloping economic ties to make war between those countries impossible. Since then the EU has experienced an unprecedented period of peace, currently 70 years and counting. As unimaginable as war may seem to us Europeans fortunate enough to have grown up in a conflict free era, we must not take this for granted as almost 40 armed conflicts still ravage communities around the world today.
For 70 years the EU has maintained peace on a continent which for centuries was dogged by wars and conflict – in the last century alone at least 80 million people lost their lives because of two World Wars. Today a war in Europe, such as those which have occurred in the last the century, is unthinkable and that’s thanks to the success of the EU project.
President of the EPP, Joseph Daul, also shared his own experiences on growing up in Europe and what peace means to him: “I was born shortly after the Second World War, in Alsace, a region which France and Germany had fought over for many decades. And it was not evident that both countries were destined for reconciliation, cooperation and indeed integration.
My roots may have given me an acute sense of the successes of the European Union. But today, we are also celebrating what the EU is doing for each one of us, here and now. Traveling across the border, to meet friends or to go to work, was never as seamless as it is today. We tend to get used to these conveniences; but it is worth remembering that our predecessors, particularly in the framework of the EPP, fought long and hard to make Europe happen, to make our Union of values happen. “
So the challenge that lays ahead for all of us Europeans is to continue to progress peace in Europe and build on the progress which was made by those who came before us.