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A Frenchie travelling the world...

23 March 2007

How has the EU improved our lives?

Dear readers,

I take the opportunity of the 50th Anniversary of the European Union and of this excellent article in the EU Observer by BBC's correspondent Mathew Charles to try and show again why the EU integration is such a good thing for us citizens. This journalist compares the Eurovision song contest and the Rome Treaty (born only at one year of interval and for "similar reasons"). He can't fail to notice that the first one has been more successful than the second in terms of popularity.

And though, I can't quite accept the fact that many Europeans feel that the Eurovision has actually brought up more good to them than the European Union. Mathew Charles goes on to show that it is because the EU and the European Parliament are very bad communicators and he is obviously right. He is also right when he says that the EU has a bad image because it lets member States (and I would add the sewer press) make its communication and distort its message. I would go a bit further then, and say that it is also because many European citizens don't even try to understand what is going on. Not only for the EU, to be honest. I have noticed, even amongst relatively educated citizens, an lazy attitude towards information.Most people accept flatly what comes out of their favorite newspaper (or worse, from TV) and just swallows it without any double checking, any critical mindset or even any common sense.

OK, I know that it is not always the case, and I have had some happy surprises... But just to bring my stone to the building, I would like to list here some of the great improvements brought by the European Union (on top of the obvious 50 years of peace we had amongst its members, a duration unheard of in human kind History).

- The Water framework (still unrespected by many member states, including France) allows us, in theory, to have a constant access to quality unpolluted water, protects river and coastal fishs and plants and our environment.
- The fight against air pollution goes into the same vein. Without the EU, there wouldn't have been a Kyoto agreement, neither the tremendous improvement in our air quality we enjoyed.
- Safety regulations. Thanks to the EU, a high level of safety regulations for thousands of technical items, objects, toys or machines are protecting our lives and the one of our children, whatever country these goods are coming from.
- The freedom of travel and of circulation of goods has made our lives easier, has helped consistently contain the inflation to the lowest levels ever seen in Europe and has given us the opportunity to relatively cheap holidays in wonderful places, meeting wonderful people. OK. This one is not true for the UK and Ireland, but hey, nobody is perfect and we will have to deal with the Britons all our lives I guess :-(
- the European funding programs have helped hundreds of thousands of students from all over Europe to learn other languages, techniques and cultures. They have also helped thousands of unemployed people to get a professional training to get jobs, hundreds of thousands of scientists to make science go further, improve technologies and ultimately our lives. They also helped producing movies, shows, concerts, and all kind of artistic events and products. Eventually, they have tremendously improved national and transnational infrastructures, roads, railways, bridges, ports, hospitals, and many other things that we take for granted.

I could go on and on like this for pages, but the fact is, the EU has tremendously improved our lives and can continue doing so. But for this, it needs more support from its citizens, so a better communication indeed, and more support from its member states (which means that we must vote for honest people rather than the usual liars that vote for one thing in Brussels, then come back and spit on the EU if it doesn't work or boast for themselves if it did).

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