Sixty years of European prosperity worth fighting for – Richmond

-   Senator Neale Richmond

On the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the formal start of the European project, Fine Gael Senator and spokesman on EU affairs, Neale Richmond, has said that European prosperity is worth fighting for.

“As European leaders from across the EU and beyond gather in Rome to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, now is the ideal time for those leaders and all Europeans to commit to renewing the fight for the peace and prosperity that European integration has brought about.

“For many years, the European project stood as a counter weight to the oppressive and totalitarian dystopia raging through Communist Europe. Berliners literally had to just look across a notorious wall to see the alternative.

“Now the challenge to the prosperity brought by European integration is that of populism both on the right and on the left. Manifest by the result of the Brexit referendum as well as looming on the 2017 electoral spectre through Marine Le Pen in France and the AfD in Germany, we can see what the alternative to European prosperity is and it is not pretty.

“We now take for granted the many great things we can do thanks to the EU from travelling with ease to working freely in other countries to eating top quality food, breathing top quality air to knowing that if needed we can receive medical care or social security wherever we find ourselves in Europe.

“Being able to travel to France or Spain or Germany without having to apply in advance for a visa, go through a lengthy immigration processes or to order foreign currency is a hugely positive thing that is worth remembering and worth fighting for.

“As politicians, we must on a daily basis be clear and positive about what the EU allows our people to do without simply using it as a distant punching bag to blame for our own woes.

“By denigrating the great positives of Europe, we will feed the cynical and lazy populism that allows for the rise of policies that in certain cases are racist, ignorant, economically illiterate and downright dangerous.

“Sixty years of prosperity is worth fighting for, we must start that fight now.”

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