This article has been shortlisted in the writing competition held by My Europe in Portugal. It has been written by Leonor Frade.
The task was to write a futuristic piece about Europe in 2030.
Today, the 1st of January of 2030, Turkey has officially joined the
European Union. After 25 years of endless negotiations, both the
European Commission and the member states gave their endorsement to this
much debated entrance. This accession is being celebrated through all
of Europe. Nevertheless, not everyone is celebrating this historical
moment. While some rejoice with happiness, others show deep concern upon
their faces, worried about where this road of constant enlargement will
lead us to.
Since the beginning, the prime goal of the European Union was to create a political, economic and social union among the countries of the European continent. However, the entry of Turkey into the European Union confronted us with a new reality. From now on, a country which is mostly situated in Asia is part of the European Union. This relocation of the economic and geographic center of the European Union raises serious concerns in many European citizens.
These citizens, out on the street today, demand answers to their several questions directed to their representatives. “What will become of Europe now?”, “Will the European Union become an Euro-Asian Union?”, “Will the European Union stop its continuous enlargement or will it keep this unrestricted accession of countries until it is no longer possible to sustain itself?”
Indeed, since the founding six countries back in 1957, the European Union has not stopped growing. Until 1995, nine countries entered the European Union. In 2004, and in one go, ten other countries joined the European Union. In 2014, twenty-eight countries were part of this grouping, and the number of countries has been growing steadily growing since then.
However, from 1986, for obvious geographical reasons, it was no longer possible for the European Union to keep growing west, which means that is has been growing east, towards Asia. And Asia, being a totally different continent, has a completely different culture and way of thinking when comparing with Europe. Therefore, now that the European Union has set foot on Asian territory, it is being asked how the European Union governance plans to conciliate two cultures that are so apart from each other as the European and the Asian cultures are. For this question, there are no answers. What we know, however, is that this enlargement will put in confrontation two very different cultures and ways of life, in many subjects incompatible, as in the matter of Women’s Rights, for instance. Anyhow, as I said before, there are no specific answers to this question yet.
Another question (“Will this enlargement ever come to an end?”), has different answers, but these answers and corresponding interests are divergent. Some say that the European Union should simply stop growing. While others claim that, if this happens, the Inclusion Principle, one of the basic principles of the European Union, will be questioned. Ideally, this principle, in absolute terms, would mean that everyone would be welcomed to join. The doubt is whether this principle should be followed without exceptions, recognizing diversity as an asset for the Union or rather if it will mean the end of that same Union.
Evidently, from an Economy stand point, this enlargement brings mostly advantages. The adding of countries to the European Union ranks increases its internal market, making it grow in economic size and scale, allowing it to compete externally with the biggest economic giants in the world, such as the USA and China. Considering this, the doubts that the European Union has to face seem a small price to pay for the improvement of all European citizens‘ well-being.
Despite all this, the question that really concerns most of the population is the cultural one, the changes that the European Union will have to face with the entrance of a new way of thinking and a completely different philosophy of life than the one we are used to in it, without mentioning the enlargement itself (keeping the accession rate like it is will eventually lead to the end of the European Union and the birth of an Euro-Asian Union). Briefly, on this historical day, while some celebrate with strawberries and champagne, others worry about the possibility of a dark future for the European Union. However, most people (myself included) still believe that the European Union will keep safeguarding the interests of its citizens, in favor of the peace and harmony between the different nations of the continent, founding ideal, as valid in 1957 as it is today. And this will only be possible with tolerance and respect between us all.