Celebrating 75 years of the European Movement

Sometimes good things can come from bad things, and as we ponder the 75 years of our European Movement, it’s important to reflect on what it came from. That, of course, was the tragedy, the misery, the inhumanity of World War II. Our movement grew out of a yearning amongst the great mass of Europeans to ensure that we would never again drag our own citizens and the rest of the world into the horrors of a modern war — the realisation, as if it were needed, that the world isn’t zero-sum, and that we can all prosper when we work together.

There’s something quite telling in the word “movement” – it implies action rather than something static. And since the European Union is a relationship between various nations and the peoples of those nations, we should take some lessons from our own interpersonal relationships. As we all know relationships require work, and without constant nurturing they wither. Our European Movement recognises that in order for us to live and work more fruitfully together it requires “movement”. That is summed up in the European treaties where they talk about “ever closer union”. Of course the naysayers of Brexit never understood that. It wasn’t about always making rules or always building up an edifice of laws above us: it was about a mindfulness,that never lets us fall back into those chauvinistic or competitive vices that sow the seeds of discord.

Of course it is an affront to the populists of this world that the European Union might be popular – in their world the EU is loathed by everybody. Echo chambers were not created by social media, and the people that have been fighting against our participation in Europe have been hanging around each other for decades, working themselves up into a wrath of displeasure at any semblance of cooperation. And what follows is a topsy-turvy, Alice in Wonderland, upside down world where cooperating is a sign of weakness, regulatory alignment is tyranny and borders can improve trade.

Our job in the European Movement of 2024 is to maintain the idealism and the drive of those founders of the European project and to ensure that our voice of positivity is heard above the din of negativity from Euroscepticism — to keep it grounded in the expectations of ordinary people so that they can recognise its benefit to them. Brexit is but a minor reversal in the never ending project for ever closer union – here’s to that kind of movement.