I am part of one of the biggest student organization in Europe and our mission is to improve student mobility in general. A main focus lies on making sure that people get to know each other, our cultures and our way of thinking. This all should (according to the European Commission) lead to a focus on and improvement of European citizenship. But how can you improve something that does not exist?
The past year I had to attend several international meetings, where I had to work with people from all over Europe. All of us gathered to improve the internal functioning of our student organization, both in between and across countries. We had one common goal; work together to create a better work atmosphere. One of the things I immediately noticed was the fact that different parts of Europe have different styles in the way they do things.
Stereotypes proof to be true way too often to say they are non-existing. For instance, the Western European Countries put a large emphasis on efficiency. Rules and time are holier than god and allah combined (noticed the way I don’t use capitals?). In comparison, the Mediterranean countries like to talk a lot without saying anything. Everybody needs to be heard and everything will turn out well in the end, no matter how much time it will cost. Two views on productivity that often clash (believe me). But instead of working to find a compromise that works for all of us, people tend to think that they are always right. It’s their way or the fucking high way.
This way of working is typical for working together in Europe. People don’t feel European at all. People belong to a certain country and don’t even try to make a poor attempt to hide it. Organize a flag parade to see the ‘unity’ of a network and you will immediately see people singing and shouting in every way possible to ensure people know they are from a certain nationality.
We have learned to work together for the greater good in a way that can only be described as tolerating each other’s opinion. There’s no better word to describe it. You acknowledge the existence of other people’s opinion, but don’t agree with them for one bit. You still have that lingering hope they will finally adjust to your way of thinking, but are at semi-peace with it if they don’t. It’s just wishing the majority of the people will choose your side.
There’s no such thing as European Citizenship and there will never be one. We should start focusing on European Unity. A concept that entails embracing each other opinions, how retarded they might be, as well as nationalities and cultures. Working together to find common grounds and improving them while we are at it. There will always be differences.
Trying to promote European Citizenship is a waste and we should get rid of using this term. It is as effective as forcing people with conflicting cultures to live together in a particular city or country. They will never acknowledge their newly formed country or forced nationality and it will only cause more problems. We all know how well that worked in the Middle East and Africa.
I was born and raised in a town called Geleen, sited between the hills of the Dutch province of Limburg. I'm a 25 year old Psychology Master student and a member of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). I will enjoy shedding my critical light on life itself and share it with you while I am at it.