Je Suis Européen

The EU has been the greatest institution in history for empowering countries. Rather than a sovereign state, or even entity, it only has what it has been given by the sovereign power of its member states. The collective recognition of sovereign states, pooling their power together in a supranational institution for the collective benefit of all them. What they have achieved is an institution that pools sovereignty for the collective benefit of those involved, the power of the EU, is the collective power of 28 member states. The power they ‘give away’ is power they now have across an entire continent.

To believe that any country can achieve on its own what all the member states of the EU have achieved together is a great mistake. Further still, to believe that any country has ever existed in a vacuum is simply untrue. All countries throughout the entire course of history have been subject to the greater situations surrounding them. To ‘Take Back Control’ is to make the mistake of assuming that we on our own can achieve what has simply never been achieved in history – a unilateral solution, while ignoring the circumstances in which we exist.

Where European countries endeavour to reduce carbon emissions, bring criminals to justice and to hold imposing countries like Russia back, doing this singularly and differently between every country is obviously ineffective. Instead, to set common standards, cooperate and set a multilateral solution; we have a common practice on fighting global warming, the accepted practice in the European Arrest Warrant and to use the world’s largest single market to set sanctions on Russia. With cooperation, we achieve so much more.

If I go to another country within the EU, the EU endeavours that I know It’s safe to drink from the taps. If I leave the UK and into another country of the EU, the EU endeavours that I know I am safe, due to the respect of my human rights. While I’m abroad, I know that the water I drink, the buses I ride, and even the toasters I use, are built to the same standards I have come to expect in the UK, because the EU has set the bar across all member states.

Above all though, the EU is a recognition that there are no unilateral solutions while the world increases to cooperate with each other.

To move to isolation and unilateral perspectives, while the world moves to cooperation and multilateral solutions, is purely, counter historical. As a student historian, I am often surprised to hear people say we are not taught enough of our ‘own’ history. Often referring to Scottish or British history. This in itself is a misunderstanding of history.

There is no single history of a country. When we are taught the Scottish Wars of Independence, we learn about European Medieval Society, about feudalism, fealty to a monarch as opposed to a country, not an anecdotal history of Scotland. When we are taught about the Slave Trade, we are taught of European norms, of Empire, raiding, colonialism, not of British endeavours in the past. Of the Scots and British in World Wars I and II, we learn of a continent at war, not simply our own involvement. With these examples, we are taught of a nations involvement in continent wide culture, and movements of that culture. When are taught of Scottish and British history, we learn European history. Because we are Europeans.

To turn our backs now, on the institution that has finally united the nations of that continent, of that history, in a political, economic and social union, is to move backwards in history. Let’s not come to that.

* John Waddell was the candidate for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine in the 2016 Scottish Parliament Elections.

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