The idea of a united Europe is not a new one. It first came about after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Back in 1464, George of Podebrady proposed a union of European Christian nations against the forming Ottoman Empire. At the time the notion was based on the religious aspect, but the idea had merit and over the centuries it became a reality.
But, did it?
A united Europe is a force to be reckoned with economically, politically, technologically, but most importantly as a force for human rights. From the first idea of Democracy to same sex marriages, Europe has been at the forefront of human rights, higher standard of living, equal opportunities, and, most important of all, the idea that the citizen is the highest form of privilege that can be given to someone.
Being recognized as a citizen means that you are a true inhabitant of the country, that you legally belong. It also means that you had certain political rights and obligations. The very idea behind this is that people of all genders are the masters of their fate and responsible for the decisions that affect their lives within the country. This is achieved through either direct or indirect means.
Herein lies the problem. Within the European Union all voices must be heard and the majority rules through compromise with the minority. This is how it should be. But it isn't. And it never was. Some citizens and countries are more privileged than others, and non are as privileged as the "Union".
The "industrial" North, with Germany as its defacto leader, has been dictating policy for the last two decades. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does fail to take into account the different needs and requirements of the various nations that comprise the EU. The needs of Italy and Greece are different to the needs of The Netherlands and Belgium. Germany has a different economic base than Portugal.
The reason behind this is that we are in fact different, separated by eons of cultural divergence. Where there are small differences within the same country, e.g. between Greater London and Yorkshire, at the European level they become vast.
The last few years have shown that those differences are now breaking apart the very fabric of what EU was meant to be. Greece has become a third-world country with unemployment at an all-time high (including the Great Depression). Brexit has been the answer for ill-informed, poorly educated, low-to-middle class people that no longer feel that the European Union cares for them. Not only that, the huge bailout of the banks on the backs of the citizenry, the absence of prosecutions against the people that caused the collapse. This has shown quite clearly that there are a number of things that are fundamentally wrong.
It is a flawed perception of what the EU has always been, by the citizens that has brought us here. At its core, it is an economic union of disparate countries. An effort to create a single market of 500+ million souls, maximise profit, and create a dynamic pool of cheap labour. It was never about democracy, that was just a veneer to help the EU's architects facilitate their core objective.
The evidence is there. The first thing that went when problems started rising to the surface was the democratic processes. The Greek constitution is in tatters, democratic process in Italy is going up in flames. The rise of the hard-right across many country-members, Le Pen, Wilders, Nuttall, Michaloliakos. The evidence is there; the hundreds of thousands of drowned migrants on the shores of the "enlightened" Europe. More of them are stacked up in limbo on closed borders, whilst the death toll gently rises with every passing day.
It may be time to face the fact that the European Union is not what every day citizen thinks it is. It is not a democratic union, although it professes it is one. It is not the large community of nations and citizens that we have hoped for. It is a highly antagonistic, extremely complex, market based around the banking system and creation and preservation of wealth at all costs.
The European Union needs a change, starting from its title. It is still the EEC. The European Economic Community. When we recognise this fact we will be able to do something about it and start asking for the changes that we need as inheritors of Western thinking and morals. Then, we will be able to have a true union.
Then, we will be Citizens of Europe.