Reasons to Vote in the EU Elections

June 4, 2009

colin_pritchard_edit- Professor Colin Pritchard is a Research Professor in the School of Health & Social Care, Bournemouth University, whose research is increasingly linking problems of deteriorating human health and the wider environment. The opinions expressed are his own. -

One reason to vote in the EU elections is that on June 6, 1944 Europe was a slaughterhouse – the second time within 30 years. The EU may be imperfect but in the last analysis is one of the greatest progressive achievements of the 20th century, as it seeks to achieve the great political trilogy of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, and, albeit hesitatingly, seeks to implement the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Previous “Unions” of separate peoples were always created by force and maintained by tyranny – e.g. the Roman, Islamic, British, Hitlerite and Russian empires. Whilst even in that great bastion of Democracy, the U.S.A., it was only kept united by civil war.

Yet this European Union of free peoples; with their different languages, cultures, religions; their centuries old prejudices, who share the same bloody history of killing ourselves, have come together, freely, democratically and in an act of incredible political imagination, try to create a cohesive society of these most turbulent of peoples for the good of all.

In one life-time, France was brutally invaded by Germany, 1870-1914- 1940, the the French and Germans really know what war means, i.e. when the bombing, the house-to-house fighting is in and on your streets!

They had the vision to come together, not only for the immediate economic benefits but because they had the imagination to see that war could be ended in our continent for the first time since humans inhabited the place.

The core political debate should be about how the peoples want to see the Union develop and at what speed; what kind of Union do we want? Schematically, either a Union that is one of liberal capitalism or along a road to democratic socialism that seeks to operationalise the ideals within UN Declaration of Human Rights to achieve the core declaration become a reality “that all men are created equal”.

Some, probably rightly, complain that the EU is over over-regulated, not democratic enough etc, etc, though such critics who urge only `economic union’ forget that in a common market, inevitably one needs common rules and regulations for fair non-exploitive capitalism to flourish.

But in a world facing global climate catastrophes linked to thoughtless non-intended environmental rape of our planet, only a pooling of sovereignty of the peoples will escape the worst outcomes. The peoples of Europe can be far better represented together in the Union. Indeed, the EU has the potential to make a significant contribution to other countries and `unions’ to deal with the consequences that follow from trying to bring under control, the forces that our short-sighted management of the planet has caused.

Perhaps I should declare a vested interest? I am concerned for the future of my grandson and his generation. I am old enough to look back 30 years and still be a responsible adult, so I can see that when he is 33, and the targets we aimed to save the planet were not achieved, his generation will rightly curse us for our dereliction and failure of stewardship, as in our blindness, we still mouth those petty nationalistic, religious, regional, local and parish prejudices.

All we need is the vision to raise our eyes beyond today’s immediacy and have the imagination and optimism to see what is achievable.

But remember the warning of the ancients “the people that have no vision perish” Proverbs.


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