A European sense of union actually matters

Patrick Altmeyer on what triggered the idea for his TED talk

Moved by recent political trends in the US and Europe I originally intended to speak about populism per-se. As soon as I had come up with the idea I was worried that it might be too broad and too sensitive a topic. When I tried to outline my talk to others I realised it would be really hard to avoid saying many things without really saying anything. I tried to stay as unpolitical as possible and mix in some sound economics. But either way it is really easy to blabber on and on about the issues related to Trump, Front Nacionale, Alternative fuer Deutschland, you name it. Eventually you’re likely to just repeat what you’ve heard somewhere else and add your personal touch to it. Every time I would think about the talk I would feel warier about it, so I decided to instead pin down what it really is that aggravates me personally about the recent political developments.

I think it’s this idea of going backwards rather than pushing forward — away from integration and back to nationalism. And again, even in this blog post, this might immediately trigger off a long argument about the pros and cons of the transnational union today. Instead of doing that, I have decided I would rather just point to the most evident benefits that come with European integration and tell you about my personal experiences. I feel extremely privileged to be studying abroad meeting and working with people from all kinds of backgrounds. Have you ever met someone on their Erasmus? They’re honestly one of the happiest crowds in the world. While this is just a tiny ingredient of the ambitious European project I really hope more and more students will be given this opportunity for generations to come.

Not all is great in Europe and there is lots of work to be done. But we have come a very long way since about half a century ago. Instead of listening to all kinds of doomsayers lets focus on what has brought us together so far.

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