We have the chance to shape our future (by voting in the European elections)
Article by Corina Crețu, European Commissioner for Regional Policy.
“What is Europe doing for us, concretely? Why should we vote”.This is in substance what my nieces asked me recentlywhen discussing about the upcoming European Elections.Such questioning unfolds a trend that is taking root: Europeseems to becomeless and less visible to the eyes of its own people, and its precious achievements are being taken for granted.
Over the last five years, as Commissioner for regional policy, I have visited hundreds of regions across the Union. I have witnessed the people’s eagerness to shape their own future, I have heard their expectancies and their concerns. The Juncker Commission I have the honour to be part of, has relentlessly worked to bring back jobs and growth after years of economic and financial crisis. And we have delivered, collectively. 12.6 million jobs have been created since the beginning of the Juncker Commission.Investment is picking up, Europe has entered into its seventh consecutive year of economic growth, and unemployment EU-wide is at its lowest since the start of the century.
Of course there are still many issues to be tackled, amongst which the persisting inequalities between and within our Member States. But the only way to address them is together, as a Union. Just imagine what would happen without Europe. In the years following the 2008 financial crisis, public investment came to a dangerous halt in several Member States. European funding was mobilised to prop up national economies, amounting in some cases to 75% of all public investment. Without the intervention of the European Union, without European solidarity, would the situation be better today?Of course not.
The past five years have also been an opportunity for me to see with my own eyes the tangible impact of this solidarity. The European Union hassupported crucial investments in hospitals, research, energy security, climate action, cultural heritage, universities, schools or transport; crucial investments in rural areas, cities, cross border regions or remote islands.European solidarity has weaved the social, economic and cultural fabric that holds us together. It has helped regions from Central, Eastern and Southern Europe catch up. It has mobilised ministers, regional Governors, mayors and civil society, all working hard for a fairer and more sustainable Europe.
Such commitment mirrors what we have done together for the past sixty years: joining forces to support each other. This amazing union has helped usfind peace, consolidate our economies and strengthen our role on the world stage. An amazing union that has letus travel freelystudy and workfar from home and come back more enlightened, more open-minded. An amazing union that has enabled us to find friendship and love on the other side of the border. This is why we must fight for the preservation of our unity.
Thirty years ago, the fall of the Berlin wall heralded, supposedly, the end of History and of all its grand narratives. When I see populisms spreading out across the political chessboard, planting the seeds of division, undermininglike never before common values and principles that have been established patiently and cautiously over several decades, I know that History has not ended. And we, the citizens of Europe, are empowered to influence its course. By voting, we have the chance to shape the future of our union, and to choose the course of our lives.The European Union is a unique political edifice, like no other in the world, a sanctuary for peace and dignity, and the strongest safeguard against discord. This is, my dear nieces, what Europe is doing for us, concretely. This is why we should vote.