The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a new dimension to our discussion about Europe. Old taboos have fallen: the EU proceeded with the co-ordination of national health policies, joint order of vaccines and shared borrowing of €750 billion. This was unthinkable two years ago. We have restarted our cooperation with the USA, thanks to the new Biden administration. We solidly stood united in our post-Brexit negotiations with the UK. We concentrated our minds on how to address external challenges together: for instance, Russia, China or the spread of coronavirus variants in Africa and Asia, where vaccination rates are still very low. In brief, European integration has advanced even further.
At a time like this, citizens’ interest in European affairs has also increased. For good or bad, they began to discuss issues such as travel restrictions, management of vaccines and financial policies again. The future of employment, teleworking, digitalisation of services, the European Green Deal and climate policies have all taken on a refreshed European dimension on our social platforms. The wave of Euroscepticism of the 2010s seems to be in retreat. It has been replaced by debates focusing on how, instead of whether, we should navigate through the 2020s and beyond together.
In this respect, initiatives like the European Network and The Journal are increasingly valuable. Politics are becoming decentralised, while the potential for people’s empowerment is increasing. Platforms, on which journalists and other citizens can develop their thoughts qualitatively are, therefore, very important. Personal views and examples about how we drive, travel, consume and behave in general are more influential than ever. We now have the task and opportunity to suggest the way forward for local communities, as well as our nations and Europe. Europe’s climate, social or geopolitical ambitions can only be realised through their active acceptance by citizens. Citizens also can be best informed and educated about all of those matters if they find the space to read and listen to each other; not only in the form of Facebook or Twitter posts, but also through articles where their thoughts can be developed in a more sophisticated fashion. This is a good chance for us to show the way, not only to each other, but also public authorities. Because of the pandemic, we are all learning by doing; everything is new and nobody’s contribution is superfluous. Reading and writing about our personal experiences of lockdowns, teleworking, social distancing, travelling, tourism, decentralisation of energy production and so on, is something exceptional with its own added value.
This is why we shall continue to write about such issues and, most importantly, we will continue to read citizen’s views. They introduce much-missed feedback amid the noise of social media or daily breaking news. European society needs them. Therefore, best wishes to The Journal, its writers and readers.