#SOTEU2018 – A live experience

, by Narcis George Matache

#SOTEU2018 – A live experience
Jean-Claude Juncker giving his last State of the European Union speech. © European Union 2018 - European Parliament

Most likely, for the majority of European citizens, the idea of listening to the State of European Union speech in the same room where it’s given, is not exactly the most exciting. Yet, for us, those who feed on European politics on a daily basis, it’s a dream come true.

Imagine the reaction a 12-year old would have when they meet Justin Bieber! That’s the same reaction (just very well internalised) I have when I meet someone I read about daily! For me, the European leaders are like characters in a daily story with a never-ending plot line. It motivates you to aspire to become one of the characters one day, it motivates you to keep fighting in this Massive Multiplayer Online game that the world is.

Even through the last annual speech of President Juncker was not his best, as it lacked the radical vision everyone was expecting for, it offered me an experience that is hard to repeat. I don’t think I ever listened to a speech so closely, devouring in my mind every line thrown at me. When it finished with the review of the past year, and it started with presenting the new initiatives, that’s when it felt like I was in a cinema, watching a movie where the main character was just about to… was simply just about to. The suspense was killing me slowly… as I was waiting for President Juncker to say the magic words – “European Federation, Su-bi-to”.

When the speech finished, a little disappointment hung over my heart, but my curiosity to see the reactions of the parliamentary groups in the European Parliament, kept my mind wandering. Almost, like watching a gladiator battle, where swords turned into words, each speaker made me experience a new emotion. Relieved to hear presidential hopeful Weber wanting to include Romania in the Schengen area. Amazed to hear the leader of the Social Democrats, Udo Bullmann, asking for more radical measures from President Juncker. Delighted to hear the leader of the liberals, Guy Verhofstadt, making a case for the European Federation. Bitter to hear the leader of the conservatives and outraged at the attitude of Nigel Farage.

The content of the speech, even if not radical enough, it did bring some lines of thought for the future that I must confess, I adore very much. The idea of European Union standing independent in front of the USA, Russia and China. The idea of the European Union building an ally in the African Union. The idea of the European Union protecting its democracy from foreign involvement. The idea of the European Union making terrorism a forgotten nightmare of the past. The idea of the European Union of standing up to “foreign-started” nationalism. A Europe that protects. Being able to record this experience in my memory, as a simple citizen of European Union, was thanks to the opportunity offered by the European Parliament’s #ThisTimeImVoting election campaign for 2019. A campaign loosely designed in Brussels, but concretised and implemented by simple EU citizens. A horizontal approach that aims to bring Europe closer to its citizens. A campaign that aims to gather as many citizens as possible to multiply the result of the efforts to increase the number of citizens that participate in the European Parliament elections in May 2019. If you haven’t joined yet, don’t wait anymore, as otherwise once-in-a-lifetime opportunities will just fly beside you.

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