The 9th of May, Europe Day, is a day loaded with lots of speeches about ideals and values. I will try to skip this tradition. I would rather focus on the most practical aspects of living in a united Europe, which in my view all come down to a single word: freedom.
It is about the basic freedoms that affect our everyday lives, without even realising them sometimes. Here is an indicative list:
– Freedom to travel through at least 26 European states (Schengen area) without visas, passports or border controls. Just take any available transport means and go wherever your money and time allows so. No administrative rules to worry about;
– Freedom from worrying about currency exchange rates when making your transactions within at least 19 European states (eurozone);
– If you meet its requirements, freedom to study in any university in Europe or spend part of your studies there thanks to the Erasmus program;
– Freedom to communicate freely through your mobile phone without incurring roaming charges;
Schengen- one of the greatest gifts the EU has given us- Freedom to eat or drink whatever you want; freedom to wear any clothes you wish; freedom to believe or not to believe any deity; freedom to follow your sexuality without sanctions; – Freedom to be part of any culture, or any parts of a culture that better suit your personality;
– Freedom to safely express yourself, criticise anyone and comment about anything without fear of public sanctions;
– Freedom from fear for your life or corporal integrity: despite any populist claims, Europe is perhaps the least violent region in the world. You can go out for a walk without the fear of being robbed or kidnapped (just ask any Latin American or African friend whether this is so simple in his/her country of origin). You can also walk around without the fear of being shot by a lunatic legally entitled to bear guns (ask any friend from the United States);
Feel welcome to complement that freedom-list with more items, because these are indeed many. I kept it short because I promised to only write 300 – 400 words. But a few words are usually the best way to indicate big achievements, such as the creation of the European Union.
Happy Europe Day!