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Do you think the European Union is worth it?
Or, should we end it?
Many people feel a strong disconnect with the EU, while others praise its achievements.
Everything considered: Is its existence good or bad for Europeans?
Since it looks like the UK is leaving the EU, we'll mostly treat it as if it's no longer part of the club.
The European Union, combining its 27 member countries, has a population of about 450 million people,
making it the third most populous sort-of country in the world.
It's the world's second largest economy by GDP, and has the biggest single market in the world.
But originally, the creation of the European Union was all about one thing: Peace.
Europeans are really good at war,
so they were involved in bloody conflicts for basically all their history.
A century-long rivalry between Germany and France
alone, cost millions of lives and ran so deeply
that Germans invented their own word for it:
Erbfeindschaft.
After the second World War, Europeans decided
they wanted lasting peace that was not
based on a balance of military power.
Instead, the economies, politics, and peoples of Europe,
should become so closely interconnected, that war
would become both impractical and unthinkable.
The plan worked!
Between EU members, we've had over 70 years of peace.
Okay, peace is great and all, but what are the
European Union's achievements and problems?
Today, EU citizens benefit from many individual freedoms.
EU treaties and regulations
ensure easy travel,
cheap telecommunications,
a great variety of goods and services, as well as very
strong health and safety standards.
European institutions are not afraid to
pick a fight with companies such as
Microsoft, Apple or Facebook about fair
competition, tax evasion or data protection.
Through the EU science programs, the European countries
became a collaborative engine that serves
as a hub of science in the wider world.
Unrestricted travel and the right to
work anywhere makes it easy to apply for
funds, and set up international teams of
experts with the best equipment.
In turn, the EU became the world leader in terms
of its global share of science
researchers, and produces more than
twenty-five percent of the world's
research output, with only five percent
of its population.
But many citizens feel distrust toward the EU.
Brussels seems far away and untransparent, technocratic,
and difficult to understand.
It doesn't help that the EU is terrible at outreach,
and explaining what it actually does.
This disconnect has also led to an ever-shrinking
voter turnout over the decades.
More transparency and accountability are
desperately needed if the EU
institutions want the trust of their citizens.
Currently, the EU is still
shaken by the refugee crisis of 2015.
Some countries have accepted far greater
numbers of asylum seekers than others,
while the border countries are
overwhelmed and feel left alone.
Other countries are shocked by the initially
unregulated mass immigration, and closed
their borders, effectively shutting down
the largest route into Europe.
The EU's wealth and freedom make it an
attractive destination, and this is
unlikely to change.
The population is split on how to react to that.
Some argue that Europe let in too many immigrants,
with a different culture without
strictly demanding integration, while
others argue that immigration is not the
problem, but that racism and
discrimination of immigrants is
preventing integration.
To strike a balance between helping refugees,
turning illegal immigrants away, and
successfully integrating the ones that stay,
remains one of the most difficult and
controversial challenges of the Union.
Immigration aside, many more challenges
lie in the future, like defense.
Traditionally, European countries have
relied strongly on the protection of
the US through NATO.
But in the current political climate,
Europe has to ask itself if it really
wants to depend on the United States for its safety.
If combined today, the
militaries of EU members could form an
effective defensive force and be the
third largest military in the world.
That could save a lot of money, safeguard
European borders, and enhance cultural
understanding with soldiers from 27
different countries serving one common purpose.
What about money?
Well, it's complicated.
The EU created the largest
single market in the world.
Inside it, you can trade border and customs free.
Countries that entered it got a massive
boost to their economies. Even between
neighbors, trade increased by up to five
hundred percent, and there was a steady
creation of new jobs.
Research has suggested that joining the EU has left
Most new members with an average of
a twelve percent higher GDP than if
they had remained outside.
And for those regions with weaker economies and poor
infrastructure, EU institutions provide
billions of euros every year helping
economic investment, infrastructure,
and social development.
On the negative side, the EU tries to hold together countries
with vastly different economies and laws
regarding labor, taxes and social security.
The cost of one hour of work in
an EU country ranges from four euros an hour
to forty euros an hour.
Some countries have large industries and strong exports
while others focus on services, tourism, or natural resources.
On top of this, the
euro is the common currency of some but
not all of these countries.
As the Greek crisis shows, this can be a recipe for disaster.
You cannot unify a vastly
different economies under one currency,
but their economic policies separate.
So, should all EU countries
unite under the common currency, or not?
Should the weakest links be thrown out
of the Euro, or should countries be made
to adopt common policies on taxes, health
care, and social security?
It's a question that's been brewing for years, and is
nowhere near a solution.
So, everything briefly considered: Is the
European Union worth it?
Here is our answer:
The EU is very flawed, and still
needs a lot of work. But it's fair to say
that the European Union makes Europeans powerful in the world.
Put together, we
lead in science, are one of the strongest
economic powers, and could have one of
the strongest militaries in the world.
But more importantly, the EU gives us
peace, security, and a sense of shared identity.
And something we all crave
in these turbulent times, stability.
If we want to protect the values we're so
proud of, a strong European Union is the
best way to make sure our voice is heard
in the world.
Alone as small states, we'll
hardly stand a chance in a world of
shifting superpowers.
What do you think about the EU in its future?
In recent years, the discussion about political
topics has become super toxic with sad
real-world consequences.
Let's not do that.
If you don't agree with this video,
you're not our enemy, you just have a
different opinion and that's fine.
We're all in the same boat after all, so let's
have a fact-based discussion about our future.