EU, we love you

Strasbourg, focus of Franco-German emnity since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, changed hands four times between then and the end of WWII. It seems fitting that this city, the focus of so much strife and discord, should now be a seat of the European Union, a body which for all its differences seeks to foster cooperation and work towards mutually agreed policies.
After a too-brief visit to Strasbourg itself (and we’ll be back – what a city), there we were, at the vast complex of the EU Parliament. It offers employment to armies of staff who support the 751 MEPs from the now 28 member states. You need someone who can offer simultaneous translation from Polish to Greek, or Hungarian to Portuguese? Best look here.

This is a truly vast community, with meeting rooms, TV studios, offices, coffee shops, technical support, IT suites: all staffed by the most cosmopolitan bunch of people you could ever hope to meet.

We had a background lecture, and a rather exciting 360 degree film. We had a meeting with our own hard-working and committed Europhile MEPs Linda MacAvan and Richard Corbett.

And then we went into the Parliamentary Chamber. The debate was about immigration, the contributors from every corner of the EU, and almost every language (those simultaneous translators in their glass-walled studios were kept busy). Views expressed ranged from the near-fascist, to the liberal, moderate and inclusive. Nigel Farage wasn’t there. Funny, that.

From the film show.

And I left feeling more wretched than I have since the dreadful morning when we woke up to hear that the UK – by the smallest of margins – had voted to leave the EU.

It’s by no means perfect, but here in the EU we have a body fostering almost Europe-wide cooperation rather than conflict, working towards common progressive employment, economic, environmental and human rights practices. And we plan to leave? What for?

43 thoughts on “EU, we love you”

  1. Why oh why didn’t more ppl listen to you (and to all our friends in the UK)… You know just the few more needed to come to a different result. And then you wouldn’t be in the mess the country now is. So sad.
    Fascinating photos – I’m glad you could join this event.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I still can’t believe that vote happened. What moron decided such a monumental decision would hang on a simple majority of those who bothered to vote?
    Love the optimistic, inclusive architecture – at least some people have a positive vision of the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. well on the plus side we can still co-operate with the things we agree with, we can vote for those in power, we won’t have to hand over so much cash for the army of bureaucrats, and maybe we will learn how to make things locally. Surely the remainers must have more morons in their numbers as they couldn’t be bothered to get off their backsides and vote, and of course the moron who was responsible for the in/out vote was the moron known as David Cameron who was also a remainer.

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    1. Everyone who voted had reasons for their choice, but I think the lies told by the likes of Farage and Johnson had an undue influence. And I’m concerned that it was older people who largely voted for Brexit, and the young who see themselves as European who will have to live with the consequences.

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      1. Bit like when we voted to join an economic community (EEC) and then it got changed to the EU which no-one got the chance to vote for. I am just very sad that we don’t seem to live in a democracy and people feel they can insult others at will because they didn’t get the result they wanted, especially if they were too lazy to go out and vote themselves. Also when did it get to be ok to disrespect old people, in some cultures the elderly are valued for their wisdom. Maybe the people who voted out were right.

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      2. I am one of those old people. But I still feel I had less right to vote this time, when I won’t live to see the consequences, and my children and grandchildren will. I don’t consider anyone a ‘moron’ for their decisions: everyone voted as they saw best, but sadly, not all the information disseminated was truthful or reliable. We’re not going to agree on this one, we clearly both feel deeply about it: so let’s agree to differ, and not fall out!

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  4. I remember our own morning after. It was November 9…and I am not sure I will ever be the same again. I kept warning everyone who would listen that there would be no morning after pill for a rash, “I want to make a statement” vote. So here we are, America and England…post Trump stress disorder and post Brexit stress disorder! At a recent visit to my doctor, he told me I would be surprised how many people are suffering physical affects from this election, even more now that this unfit administration has been installed. I just keep hanging in there…hoping my nation makes it to the other side of this debacle. I hope yours will also.

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  5. I had many discussions with friends and workmates in NZ about the referendum. Most of them were amazed that the issue was to be put to a referendum. “Why would they do that?” And then they – my friends and workmates – were shocked when the result came in. I recall one of my best friends grimmacing and shaking his head.

    However, that particular friend happened to be a UK citizen. He claimed to have a strong view on Brexit and could have voted but he didn’t. He was one of the many who couldn’t be bothered. That strikes me as something to ponder. I trust you voted, Margaret? (You don’t have to answer that.)

    On the positive side, there’s an opportunity for NZ. I’ve long argued that NZ could push to join the club. I want Juncker and co to see that this could be a one-out-one-in move. I’m sure we could be ahead of Turkey, at least, in the queue. On the negative side, I have yet to convince anyone – anyone! – to agree with me. Apparently geography matters, after all.

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  6. I couldn’t agree more with everything you say and all those who have responded so far. We are not committed to leaving so there’s always hope, however faint. On different subject, the smell coming from the Syrian food stall at Lavelanet market this morning was irresistible and we ate some wonderful food this evening as a result.

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    1. Now, that Syrian food sounds like the perfect foil to the return to Brexit-embroiled Britain, and the less than wonderful news from Catalonia, and Emily’s adopted home.

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  7. There have to be better ways to consult an electorate than an oversimplified in/out question at a particular point in time without a ‘what happens next?’ question; better ways to make major decisions than on a narrow majority of voters; better ways to explain and debate important national issues; and there have to be better ways to resolve issues within the EU.

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  8. I know that awful feeling you describe, of waking up to an impossible election outcome and to the worries for the future that come with it. I’m glad you got to make this trip, even if you left feeling worse in some ways. That’s the way I feel when I hear Barack Obama’s voice . . .

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  9. It would be pretty cool to have someone stationed in one’s house who could translate spontaneously between Polish and Greek, you could keep them in the attic, let them cook their souvlaki or pirogi or whatever and get them to do their party trick whenever you had guests. Sadly we have no attic.

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  10. I am late as usual in reading your post, Margaret. I have enjoyed reading all the comments here and am comforted (slightly) by the knowledge that there are many people like me out there who also feel betrayed and frustrated and unhappy by what has happened. We can’t let this happen again!

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      1. Don’t forget the 48% was the percentage of those who voted. Those who do the sums have worked out that only 37% of the whole electorate voted to leave. I get very cross every time I hear that the majority voted to leave and that those of us who voted to remain should get over it. I heard a former Conservative Minister say that just because his party lost an election does not mean he should stop believing in his principles and fighting for them. The same applies to the Brexit vote, he is a remainder. Rant over, for the time being.

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  11. Exactly, exactly. I rant a lot, and write a lot of letters. My allegedly pro-Remain Tory MP alleges ‘the people have spoken’, and votes however he’s told to. Grrrrrr.

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  12. Have to come back quickly to this post, had forgotten that I commented already.
    It seems to be getting worse and ‘worser’ (as a German friend who’s married to an English, tends to say) with your Government and it is really no longer advisable to speculate if one would come back to Britain for a job….. You are quickly going nowhere and all our friends, young and old, weep with frustration over the mess you have to live in. Oh if only the whole country could wake up from this terrible dream and start anew. I know for sure that Brexit wouldn’t happen….

    Liked by 1 person

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