Pulse of Europe: Ready for everything for the sake of Europe

Author : Olena Shubkina Christian Dieter

Source : 112 Ukraine

Non-partisan citizens’ initiative that supports the EU is embracing European cities
09:30, 14 March 2017

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The voices of the populists are becoming louder in Europe and worldwide. As a result, 2017 year could be decisive in terms of the preservation of the European Union.

Some EU countries would hold parliamentary and presidential elections, and populists have long used the EU's crisis for their own victory.

Would they be able to so easily bury the unity of Europe and European values?

Despite this prospect, many Europeans try to protect this unity and recall the common European values and freedoms.

"Pulse of Europe," European initiative that supports the EU, is growing public. It is quite a rare situation when majority of civil society feels dissatisfied with their own governments, and the citizens do not trust politicians. Supporters of the new movement want to explain why it is necessary to keep the European Union.

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EU is a project, which gave Europeans peace and freedom after the Second World War. The creators of the movement say that the people should see and feel the European idea again.

For this purpose, every Sunday at 2 pm, thousands of Europeans gather in various cities like Berlin, Munich, Amsterdam, Paris, Hamburg, Strasbourg, Brussels, and Lisbon.

After the presidential elections in the US and Trump’s victory, the German lawyer Daniel Röder from Frankfurt realized that he could not longer ignore processes that have embraced Europe. Together with his wife and friends, he began to organize demonstrations in support of the unity of the EU.

The first demonstration, which took place in November 2016 year, was attended by only by some 150 people. Symbolically, the demonstration took place in the "European" area of the city. After that, the rallies were attended by up to 2000 people.

"We want to show that united democratic Europe still exists. Now is not the best time for protests. It is the high time to protect the values of our society," wrote Röder.

Who are these people? Hopeless romantics who believe in the EU?

The demonstration in support of Europe was joined by people of all ages. Not only young people, but older people are convinced that the EU has a chance to conduct reforms and change.

A lot of people demonstrators came with young children; they believe what the EU can guarantee the young generation secure future.

"For Europe, we are ready for everything." In such a way organizers urge the public to join their initiative.

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One of the main reasons for creation of this movement was Brexit. In addition, this year the parliamentary elections to be held in the Netherlands (15 March), Bulgaria (26 March), Germany (24 September), and the presidential election in France (April 23 and May 7).

Elections in the Netherlands and in France might have really dramatic consequences. According to recent polls, a radical populist party of Geert Wilders is leading in the Netherlands, it promotes the idea of Netherlands’ exit out of the EU.

Equally alarming is the situation in France, where leader of ultra-right party "National Front" Marine Le Pen has high chances to win. Her party also advocates leaving the EU, and she has considerable support of the Kremlin. Meanwhile Germany threatened by national conservative party "Alternative for Germany" (AfD), which has close relations with Russia and the Kremlin, which has a significant interest in weakening European unity.

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Given these dangerous circumstances, one of the founders of the movement says: "Yes, the EU is not without a sin, it makes a lot of mistakes, but we should reform and save this institution."

The organizers of demonstrations are hoping that they can bring Europeans out of this lethargic sleep, passive observation and discussion of the fate of the EU in the political sidelines.

According to another organizer, Hansjörg Schmitt, populists should realize that the population of the EU is ready to go to the streets in support of the European unity.

"I believe that we are more than those who said, "We are the people" (one of the slogans of AfD - Ed.). I hope that the politicians will see that we believe in Europe. For the first time in my life I have realized that the EU is not something that exists by itself," said one of the demonstrators in Frankfurt.

People who join "Pulse of Europe" in no way should called fans of the EU in its current form. Rather, they want to express a critical view of the need to reform the EU to guarantee its preservation and further achievements.

Demonstrators want the political parties to show in their election programs an action plan on further reforming the EU. After all, people are no longer willing to tolerate the current situation.

"Europe must be preserved so that it can be further improved," is one of the appeals of the demonstrators.

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10 point program motion are calling on recognition of the "indivisibility of fundamental European freedoms and EU law" and to keep the EU as a whole; increase the responsibility of citizens for their decision to vote in support of pro-European parties.

What's next? Demonstrators in Germany are planning to gather on the square every Sunday, before the elections in the Netherlands are held. After voicing the results of these elections, organizers might review the strategy and the format of the further demonstrations.

March 25, "March for Europe" to take place in Rome, the same day the London group "Unite for Europe" plans to organize one of the largest protest marches in the UK.

According to Röder, "we have to fight for Europe right now. If Europeans do not support the idea of a united Europe, then nothing would help."

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