Saturday 17. April 2021

Carmen, SPAIN

‘What has happened to the spirit of friendship and companionship?’




My name is Carmen and I was born in Catalonia (Spain). During my childhood, my image of Europe was that of tourists from France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and United Kingdom, coming to enjoy the sunny beaches where I spent my summer vacations. In my youth I experienced the entrance of Spain in the European Union and the euphoria of a process of openness towards Europe.

My real immersion in the heart of Europe occurred when I moved to Brussels to study a master on European Law. At that time, I was struck to discover such a multicultural and diverse city, with some neighbourhoods where the population was predominantly Turkish or Moroccan.


At the university, I was surrounded by students from almost all the European countries, with different languages, cultures, traditions, educational backgrounds, etc. Just then, I realized how the European Union, through the Erasmus program, was contributing to shape friendships among people that apparently had nothing in common  (nothing to do with one another) and to shape an open-minded European citizenship.

It seems to be far away, but the spirit that animated the idea of creating the European Union in order to peacefully overcome differences among people and countries was very alive in programs such as Erasmus, and it needs to be reinforced.


Yes, we need to renew our faith in the European Project. I am convinced that it has transformed my life for the better and the lives of so many people who, like me, have moved from their countries as well. It enlarged and enriched my perspective of the different countries, by making me become more understanding of differences and helping me to avoid prejudice towards people who do not think, feel or act like me. At present, I collaborate daily, as a volunteer, in an association engaged in the reception and integration of immigrants.


Nevertheless, the answer the European leaders have given to the refugees’ crisis does not show the face Europe used to display in the international arena defending the human rights and social issues. It´s time to raise one´s voice, as European citizens: What has happened to the spirit of friendship and companionship? What has happened to the respect of the international human rights conventions? It´s time to raise one’s voice again for the Europe of people, the Europe of solidarity!




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