The idea of a United Europe is not new, but if you brush up on your history knowledge you will soon remember that there have been many different ideas about how to unite the continent. The newest and the most successful idea is the European Union.
Europe has a history of violence, instability and bloody wars. After World War II, people started to think about how to do things differently, how to avoid another World War and keep a peaceful Europe. In order to secure lasting peace six countries—Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West-Germany—begun to unite European countries economically and politically. This was the birth of the European Union that is celebrated every year now on May 9, in 27 countries, by millions of European citizens.
Ever since the start of the European integration project, it has been growing rapidly and changing greatly. Today the European Union covers a large part of Europe and is involved in most aspects of world matters. It has its own single market, its own currency, the Euro, and it is the world’s biggest trading power. It includes a European Central Bank, European Parliament and the Court of Justice of the European Union. It has a wide range of different policies, all from a common agricultural policy to a common foreign policy.
But is that all that the European Union stands for? What does the slogan “United in diversity” really stand for? And why am I convinced that Iceland should become the next member state of the European Union?
The answer to the first question is a big no. The European Union is not just some gigantic institutional entity that does a lot of business; it stands for so much more. Example: Through the inner market of the European Union we have the four freedoms which means the free movement of people, money, goods and services, which means for the normal citizen of the European Union that he or she can live, work or study in any other member country without a problem. Sounds good right? That same citizen holds a citizenship of the European Union, which comes with rights such as that every citizen of the Union, regardless of nationality, has the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in local elections in his or her country of residence and in elections to the European Parliament.
The slogan of the European Union is ‘United in diversity.’ As you can imagine, the 27 member states are not all the same, some are bigger than others, some have over 80 million citizens while others have less than 500.000 citizens.