Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.

I thought I missed it! The 9th of May. For a week now, my social media timelines are full of Europe day related posts from the European institutions that I follow and friends that work there. Seems like the EU took this year’s celebration seriously, and rightfully so. 

This year, we are celebrating Europe Day in Berlin. The city that breathes and lives re-unification. And future.

Is the second Corona celebration of Europe Day in a row. Meaning no concerts, no big events, just the reminder that we are all Europeans. Through TV, social media, in group chats, calls, probably also TikToks, you name it.

The past 12 months have been turbulent. From vaccine mixups, to missing chairs, it has been one crazy year. EU countries were shutting down and opening up, it almost looked as if we were playing wack-a-mole with COVID. 

But throughout all the mess that the pandemic brought, and the subsequent confusion that came from each country, or even region, trying to control the virus by itself, the EU stood strong. 

Let’s forget about advocating for vaccines and not even attempting to coordinate lockdowns. These were all the “spillover” effects that happen in Europe every now and then, mostly during crises, and make Europe a political union. And yes, they make sexy news, but this is just the top of an iceberg of what the EU actually can do.

At its core, the EU remains first and foremost a single market. And the four fundamental freedoms that constitute it are still intact. Freedom of movement of goods, capital, services, and people.

While all four freedoms have seen restrictions and slowdowns due to the closure of economies and lockdowns that Member States had to implement to curb the spread of the virus, I am fairly confident that none of them has been eroded. Including the freedom of movement of people. 

And so for this year’s Europe Day, I wish that we never forget what our cooperation is based on and give Europe that credit that it is due. I wish that no European ever forgets what actual closed borders really mean. 

Having spent the past three months in Berlin, I am reminded every day of how quickly life can change because of a political decision. By a signature under an international treaty, with the first brick put up to build a wall, and the last one that is torn down. But most of all I am amazed about how the city kept its main historical sites intact, and in many cases upgraded them to fit in modern architecture and lifestyle. As if they wanted them to stay there, as reminders of an era, when families, friends, the nation and Europe were divided. Then, without judgement, they looked ahead and built an amazing city.

Let’s take what we have, not turn backwards, and let’s continue building a united Europe of tomorrow together.

Avtor: Špela Majcen Marušič

I am a Slovenian EU affairs analyst, proud member of the Charles Darwin promotion at the College of Europe with experience in the European Parliament and the UN Refugee Agency. I am a young mum to a clever and adorable baby girl and I believe that a kinder world can be created through cooperation and understanding. On Twitter as @SpelaMa on Instagram as @spela_ma.

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