Living, working and travelling in Europe, we sometimes take for granted the benefits of the European Union. Particularly for those of us with EU citizenship, having grown up with a mobility that was unheard of only a generation ago, our lives have become truly European. We have the privilege of forgetting that national borders still exist, and eagerly take advantage of the framework the EU gives to our lives. At the same time, we might forget the importance of the political processes behind them, and our ability to influence them, thereby fundamentally shaping our societies. This is why, with the European parliament elections coming up on May 23rd to 29th, 2019, I asked the Globonaut crew members to share what the European Union means to them.
As an appeal from us to you, please use your right to vote and make it count! If you need any more information, you can find the EU’s guide to voting in the parliamentary elections here.
Europe’s multi-cultural society
The EU is my second home. I was born in Brazil and was welcomed here with open arms. It is awesome being part of this incredible multi-cultural society.
Life is so much easier for us in comparison to 25 years ago, after the introduction of new European rules and treaties. This is especially true when you live close to a border, like I do. With the free passage of persons and goods, it almost feels like there are no borders any more. I can work, study and shop wherever I want. Travel is much easier, we often don’t need to exchange money anymore and there are no more traffic jams at the border offices. Even mobile data is now limitless within the EU. But most importantly, the human aspect of the EU gives us a taste of the rich mix of cultures that all belong to Europe. Sometimes you will encounter foreign habits that you’re not used to. They can seem strange or funny, but I would say that’s what brings more flavor to my world. Yes, it can create challenges, but life is so much more interesting when you look beyond your own borders.
Borderless travel within the EU
The EU’s borderlessness has given me the freedom to study, live and work in Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and the U.K., and to travel countless countries on foot, by bike, train or plane. It’s filled endlessly with possibilities to discover history, culture, landscapes, languages and food. I can’t wait to explore more, spread out over a lifetime! Of course, we can’t deny the trouble the EU sometimes faces, but to me, it feels like an extended home.
To be able to travel freely to waves my home country doesn’t have.
Protecting Europe’s cultural heritage
I am so lucky to be a citizen of a region in which you’re always a train ride away. I’m proud to be able to participate in a society that has a strong infrastructure beyond the nation state, and that uses it to protect and preserve a history and culture fundamental to my personal identity.
My identity as a European citizen is extremely valuable to me, both on a personal level and professionally as a travel writer. One thing I find extremely important is how EU funding safeguards our cultural heritage, as well as our biodiversity through the Natura 2000 network. Whether I’m exploring national parks like the Veluwe in my home country (the Netherlands), following a hiking trail in the Austrian Alps, or learning about a centuries-old heritage site in Athens, it’s always in the back of my mind. That’s when I feel most grateful for the continuous care and safety net that the EU has created for our shared heritage. So many of the stories we publish on Globonaut wouldn’t be the same without it.
What does Europe mean to you or why do you think it’s important to vote in the upcoming elections? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
I’m Katja and after finishing my university studies in history, I’m now enjoying exploring, I can’t wait to see more of the world! My ideal trip is walking around a new place, sitting down with a drink and some good food, and people watching. I’m happy to be part of the Globonaut community and am excited to see the experiences others share!