Maintaining a Union

The next elections for the European Parliament are almost here and more than ever can these elections affect the future of the European Parliament. Up until now most of the decisions were made by the major parties but this year this could change because of the growing support for smaller parties. Because of this, the decision making in the European Parliament might become more open and democratic. In this way, the European Parliament might start to look more like the Dutch parliament where multiple smaller parties form the majority instead of just two big parties.

The Netherlands was one of the first countries to be part of the ‘European Coal and Steel Community which eventually became the European Union. With this, many new European rules and laws were implemented in the Netherlands. In the last decade, more and more people in the Netherlands have started the question the positive effects of the European Union. One of the main reasons for these negative views is the fact that the Netherlands pays more money to the EU than they receive. Though many people see the negative side of our participation in the EU, we still see the positive sides as well.

For example, many people in the Netherlands value the possibility to travel freely within Europe.

One of the other positive aspects of the EU is the Erasmus programme, which brought all of us, volunteers, to Madeira. In this way, we can see how the EU affects Madeira. Another way to see this is by looking at the infrastructure of Madeira. Many of the roads and constructions on Madeira have been funded by the EU to improve the conditions of the island to make it more attractive for tourism. The money that was used for these projects was most likely paid by countries in the EU that pay more money to the EU than they receive, the Netherlands is one of them. As expected, citizens of these paying countries are starting to question the EU and its effectiveness.

A challenge for the EU is to maintain support from all European citizens. A great example of this is Brexit. With the UK leaving the EU, the EU risks other countries following the UK.

For the EU it is important to keep the membership of the EU relevant for all countries, even the ones that have grown sceptic of its effectiveness.

The EU will be most effective and significant when there are many different countries involved that all have their own culture and input so that we can make Europe a place that houses many different stories, languages and cultures of the countries all working together to create the best possible connection between them so that in the future we can be as united in diversity as possible.

Project co-financed by ERASMUS+.

Flore Paumen
Students’ Union Dutch Volunteer