On Face­book you see more and more AEGEE mem­bers talk­ing about the “Pulse of Europe”. Often you see also pho­tos of them at big gath­er­ings, with thou­sands of peo­ple and count­ess Euro­pean flags. Oldies such as for­mer AEGEE-Europe Pres­i­dent Kari­na Häuslmeier are giv­ing speech­es at these events, as well as Ben­ni Bat­tke from AEGEE-Aachen and oth­er cur­rent mem­bers. Ben­ni wrote the fol­low­ing arti­cle and also gath­ered impres­sions from oth­er mem­bers.

Pulse of Europe is a pro-Euro­pean ini­tia­tive, which was found­ed in 2016 as a reac­tion to Brex­it and the elec­tions in the USA. After those elec­tions there were mas­sive protests against the results. Pulse of Europe wants to be vis­i­ble before­hand: before the elec­tions in the Nether­lands, France and Ger­many. We don’t want to be the “silent major­i­ty” any­more, but a vis­i­ble crowd stand­ing for a peace­ful, bor­der­less and coop­er­at­ing Europe.

Ben­ni Bat­tke today on stage. Pho­to by Philipp von Klitz­ing

Last week, we had 900 par­tic­i­pants in Aachen, more than 30.000 peo­ple on the streets in all cities togeth­er. This week­end we gath­ered more than 1000 peo­ple in Aachen. The atmos­phere is usu­al­ly very friend­ly and nice. And the speak­ers speak crit­i­cal as well as pos­i­tive about the EU. We want to be a plat­form for this. This new move­ment has already been in most Ger­man news out­lets. Our new Pres­i­dent, Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier, men­tioned Pulse of Europe in his first speech; some oth­er well-known politi­cians like Armin Laschet spoke in Aachen and some­times we have music too. Today we also send a greet­ing to Bul­gar­ia, because they had an elec­tion today.

More and more cities join in

There are already more than 60 Euro­pean cities, where pulse of Europe takes place every Sun­day at 2 pm. The eas­i­est way to join is to par­tic­i­pate! You can find the near­est event here: http://pulseofeurope.eu/poe-staedte/.

In case there is no such event near your place, ini­ti­ate it on your own! Ask your friends, there is not much effort to announce an event:

  1. Con­tact the ini­tia­tors from Frank­furt.
  2. Call the police that you want to reg­is­ter a demon­stra­tion.
  3. Ask your AEGEE and oth­er friends to meet at 2 pm in blue and yel­low.

We can have an impact on these upcom­ing elec­tions by being vis­i­ble as pro-Euro­pean crowd. In the past months and years, the crit­ics of the EU became loud­er and very vis­i­ble in the media. Now, we want to be loud and vis­i­ble in favour of the Euro­pean project.

Pulse of Europe today in Vien­na. Pho­to by Katrin Uhlik

Actions speak loud­er than words

It is impor­tant to act now. We all remem­ber the Brex­it vote. If oth­er mem­ber states decide to leave, the Euro­pean project is going to fail. I fear a miss­ing dis­cus­sion about the dif­fer­ent states’ inter­ests could in the worst case lead to con­flicts and war. Our own his­to­ry pre­dicts this.

Of course the prob­lems of the EU are not easy to solve. We can see many prob­lems for exam­ple in Poland and Hun­gary — with the free­dom of the press and demo­c­ra­t­ic insi­tu­tions in gen­er­al. There is obvi­ous­ly no effec­tive con­trol, if a gov­ern­ment choos­es to vio­late gen­er­al Euro­pean prin­ci­ples or bends them in their favour. The same is valid when it comes to the top­ic of the refugees, tax havens or almost every neg­a­tive devel­op­ment, such as the eco­nom­ic cri­te­ria that were once agreed on. The EU and even more so the nation states do not live up to the stan­dards they pro­claim.

But how shall the Euro­pean Union change? In my per­son­al opin­ion, the most impor­tant reform is the Euro­pean Parliament’s right of leg­isla­tive ini­tia­tive. This means, the par­lia­ment must have the pow­er to make laws pro­pos­als inde­pen­dent­ly – this could cure a lot of EUs prob­lems in a demo­c­ra­t­ic way. Also, the Vot­ers have to hold their politi­cians account­able for what is wrong in Europe and not only focus on their nation­al lev­el.

Pulse of Europe today in Ham­burg. Pho­to by AEGEE-Ham­burg oldie Jan Vlamynck

What oth­er AEGEE mem­bers say

Here are two com­ments of AEGEEans that par­tic­i­pat­ed in oth­er cities. Julia Krebs, AEGEE-Osnabrück: “I am tak­ing part in the Pulse of Europe demon­stra­tions in Essen, Ger­many. Last Sun­day there have been between 400 and 500 peo­ple. I real­ly liked the atmos­phere, every­one was very pos­i­tive. My favourite part of the demon­stra­tion is when they open the micro­phone to cit­i­zens. It is so impor­tant to hear what cit­i­zens have to say about the top­ic of Europe and what they val­ue most. Last Sun­day an elder­ly woman approached the micro­phone and start­ed with: ‘I have expe­ri­enced war in Ger­many. I nev­er want to see this hap­pen­ing again.’ Goose­bumps! Those are the sto­ries that need to be told over and over again!“

Car­o­line Eißler, AEGEE-Pas­sau: „I was in Stuttgart and Munich. In Stuttgart there were 200 peo­ple, in Munich last week 1500. I par­tic­i­pate in Pulse of Europe because I feel that I have ben­e­fit­ed from so many things being born in 1989. We did grow up with an ever clos­er unit­ing Europe that is now fac­ing severe obsta­cles that we can­not not stand up for Europe. I feel goose­bumps every time some­one speaks at the open micro­phone and I feel even more Euro­pean now.“

Ben­ni Bat­tke, AEGEE-Aachen

Pulse of Europe on Face­book: www.facebook.com/PulseofEurope