As we celebrate Europe day, Christos Mouzeviris reminds us that we must not lose sight of what it means to be Europeans and that means not taking for granted all that we have achieved and striving to do more.
Europe Day is commemorated each year across the Continent, on the 9th of May. It is a celebration of peace, unity and stability in Europe, established in the aftermath of World War Two.
For decades this day reminded Europeans their path from war, death and destruction to democracy, peace and progress. It commemorated the achievements of their continent for the past 70 years.
Yet, recently, Europe is faced with more challenges ahead. As an aftermath of the economic crisis, the continent is divided.
Many radical, euro-sceptic, right-wing and conservative political parties have found once more, a way to become prominent in European politics. Their popularity rose in several EU states due to the continuous economic woes and the immigration crisis.
European citizens seem rather apathetic to the significance of this day. They take the privileges they enjoy from Europe’s achievements for granted which others are desperate to acquire and even risking their lives to enter our continent.
On the contrary, it is not only still very much relevant, but it could become a platform for a different kind of celebrations.
Instead of waving EU flags or limiting the commemorations in EU institutions and government bodies, we could establish an annual citizens debate. By using international, national and local media, or online think tanks and platforms, the commemorations of the Europe Day can no longer be about the Continent’s past; rather, they can start focusing more on its future.
The 9th of May could be the day that Europeans participate in a cross-continental exchange of ideas, debating on and shaping the continent they would like to live in.
Celebrate and be active
Europe’s Day should be a celebration of “Europeaness,” promoting active citizenship and engagement. Citizens could additionally be informed about their rights and how currently the EU works, while also be given the opportunity to discuss how things could be improved.
Our continent came a long way since its post war era and its efforts to rebuild itself. Now while its achievements cannot be forgotten, it is time for Europe to reinvent itself.
Our nations are faced with new challenges and more obstacles to overcome. Perhaps once we manage to deal with them, Europe’s Day could become something more than a commemoration of an idea and past achievements.
In coming times, it could become a day that defines the future.