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