Why is it good to stay in the European Union? – A perspective from the Continent on the British referendum

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Part I: the importance of the British referendum

There are days on which the lives of an entire generation hinge. Sometimes such days even shape an entire century.

July 28, 1914 was one such day. Back then, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. World War I started and Europe tore itself to pieces. European nations lost their role as global leaders which had been achieved during previous centuries. If Europe – if European nations and European citizens – fail to close ranks, it has dire consequences for all Europeans. This is one of the most important lessons learned from World War I. And even if our times are no longer about war and peace within Europe, this lesson could not be more topical.

May 9, 1950 was one such day, too; and it has left its mark on the lives of millions of people for more than half a century now. Back then, the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed the introduction of the “High Authority”, a joint supervisory body of Franco-German coal and steel production. The plan was the origin of our Union we know today and the High Authority developed to become the precursor of the European Commission. What a farsighted plan! And how it speaks of French generosity! Only five years after the end of World War II, only five years after Nazi Germany had razed the whole of Europe and half the world to the ground and had committed millions of murders. Back then, Robert Schuman said that it would not be possible to make Europe all at once, or according to a single plan. He explained that Europe would be built through tangible achievements which first created a de facto solidarity. He was right back then and still is. His statement could not be more topical, either.

June 23, 2016 also has the potential for becoming such a day. It is the day on which the British will decide on their membership of the European Union. That day might also turn out to be decisive for an entire generation, maybe even for a whole century. And it is not only about the future of the British, it is about the future of all citizens of the European Union.

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