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18 November 2016

Be Europe

Estimated reading time Time 2 to read

The more I read, the more I think the key word for Europe at this stage is “unblocking” and the way to unblock is to “be” Europe. Yes, be the thing itself, Be Europe.

There’s no doubt that the events that are coming so thick and fast in Europe these days seem to be plunging us into a state of pessimism. We can’t understand –after a president like Obama– how the United States now has a president like Trump. Many –and I’m one– see this as bad news.

Donald Trump was voted President of the United States in the election on November 9, 2016 /image: unsplash

Obama’s election was in itself a conclusive and historic fact, far ahead of its time for American society and the world in general. Obama’s significance goes way beyond his politics. This week saw a Trump victory, and most Europeans see his election as a step back. Perhaps it is –it almost certainly is–, but weighing the numerous factors, and after spending the last few days poring over the checks and balances, we can perhaps see it from a different point of view. What if the European Union were to reassert its position, its political system and the strength and mission of its institutions? What if –in the face of crucial challenges such as security, refugees, immigration, climate change and the common European economy– the EU were to solidly redefine its politics and its policies? And what if European citizens came to believe in politics once again, to know more about policy, and, in partnership with Europe’s leaders, to guide Europe’s future?

Trump’s election will probably not turn out to be so catastrophic. In my opinion, it’s worrying, and certainly a backward step, but it could also mean a stark wake-up call about what’s going on in Europe and in the world. A reflection on shared responsibility, solidarity and the balance needed by humankind.

The European Union can and must safeguard, balance and sustain international relations and the pillars on which they are supported. It’s ideally placed to do so, as it has had many years of practice.

Now is not the time to enter a cycle of negative discourse and commentary and wallow in forecasts of disaster. Even in the knowledge that we’re living through events we thought were long gone, we can also channel our emotions along more constructive pathways and call up the steadfastness required in serious situations by identifying what we have and what we’re capable of doing. Europe, with its distinctive personality, has in its hands a clear and powerful solution –no less than simply to Be Europe.

Susana del Río Villar

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