Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Your Pupils' Lives Depend on This Historic EU Vote

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Your Pupils' Lives Depend on This Historic EU Vote

Article excerpt

Peace, prosperity and security could all be put in jeopardy at the EU referendum, writes Miriam González Durántez, a panellist for a TES post-vote online debate

The result of the 23 June referendum on the European Union will shape not only the future of the UK, but also the future of Europe as a whole - and possibly also of the world. And, importantly, the future of your students.

There are very few times in life when one is given the chance to influence events that will change history. This is one of them.

I have worked in the EU, been proud of a lot that the EU has achieved, and been frustrated by some of the things that the EU does too.

Regardless of whether you are, as I am, pro-European or not, we all have not only the right, but also the duty to step into the referendum debate, get informed and vote.

It is easy for those under 60 to forget that the EU is, above everything else, a project for peace, to avoid the confrontations that led us to kill each other not just once but twice during the past century.

It all seems so far away. And yet it is so recent. We tend to think that we will never have to face a war in Europe ever again. But we are currently surrounded by an imperialistic and angry Russia, whose pressure has already caused fundamental liberties and democratic rights to start crumbling in countries across Central and Eastern Europe; by a Turkey that is showing increasing desire to extend its area of political influence; and by a string of countries in the south and east Mediterranean that happen to be affected by threats of terrorism, instability and/or war.

The threat of conflict

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the continent of Europe - including the UK - has never been as close to a risk of political turmoil and confrontation as it is today.

On the economic front, the world is rapidly changing as well. The new emerging economic powers (China and India, along with some South East Asian countries) are all defined by their size: huge countries or regions whose economic muscle depends on the sheer volume of their consumer base.

The EU has aimed to counterbalance that by joining forces and creating a market of 500 million consumers. Having such a powerful market means having some common rules. We may like or dislike some of those rules, but the issue is not whether we care for a specific rule. The issue is: how can we compete with those increasingly huge economic powers with strength? And how can we do so while keeping our own values?

There are actually very few countries and economic blocks in the world that are able to marry economic strength with our commitment to democracy, freedom, human rights and rule of law. …

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