We know that the European Union is a supranational organization consisting (at the moment) of 28 member states.
We know that there are seven institutions responsible for principal decision-making.
We know that these decisions made in Brussels and Strasbourg influence our daily lives.
But what does it mean to be European? The Brexit referendum in June 2016 showed us that the majority of Brits do not feel European. For most of them, Europe simply equated to the suffocating aforementioned institutions, long and complicated legislation, and, above all, a drain on national finances. But the European Union is more than that.
Even though the idea of Europe is heavily contested right now, we as European citizens should ask ourselves what being European means for us.
- What are the first three words that come to mind when hearing the word ‘Europe’?
- Are these words mainly positive or negative?
- Is the European Union, for you, more about politics and power or ideals and values?
- Which European values do you identify with?
- Concerning citizenship: Do you feel a greater sense of belonging to Europe, your nation or your place of residence?
- Does this answer differ if you are asked outside the European Union, such as in the United States or Asia, for example?
- Being a citizen of one of the 28 member states also makes you legally a European citizen: Besides a regional or national pride, do you feel proud to be European?
- Do you feel national pride?
- If you could decide for your country, would you like to be a member of the European Union or not?
- What personal advantages does the EU offer you?
- And what disadvantages?
- Do you know who your local MEP is?
- Which European politician inspires you the most?
- If you felt a decision on the European level contradicted your personal beliefs, would you demonstrate against it?
- Or do you feel hopeless and powerless?
- If there were only European parties participating in the elections for the European parliament, would you actively engage with one?
- Do you know the history of the European Union?
- And is that important for your understanding of the existence of the Union?
- How do you imagine your life would be without the European Union?
- Are you scared of a European state replacing traditional nation states?
- Would you cheer for a European sports team?
- How do you think the European Union will look like in 10 years? In 100 years?
- How did you feel the morning after the Brexit referendum? Angry? Relieved? Rejected? Happy? Threatened? Sad?
- Do you think the rise of nationalist and Eurosceptic parties in the European and national parliaments is a threat or rather a possibility to improve the EU?
- What would you personally change about the institutional system of the EU?
- Does your perception of the system contradict your perceived values of Europe?