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The future of the European Union

The elections to the European Parliament are approaching and, once again, millions of Europeans are called to vote.

These elections are especially important, as crucial decisions will be taken in the coming years that will affect climate change, the resettlement of refugees and asylum seekers and the sovereignty of the peoples of Europe.

However, we can say that elections to the European Parliament do not usually attract much interest in the population, at least in Spain, because the power of the European Commission is perceived as something limited and distant that does not have much impact on the member States.

Even so, I believe that we are living a decisive period in terms of the continuity of the Union, since the resolutions adopted after the 2008 crisis and the subsequent rise of the extreme right worldwide have created a great discredit on the project of the European Union. This will be surely its biggest challenge for the next legislature because, although it is true that many wrong decisions were made during the crisis, the solution should be to create a joint project in which we can all believe and trust, and not isolate ourselves behind our borders and see others as enemies.

In spite of this, it would be perhaps interesting to review the current Treaties, I mean the one of Lisbon, because through it the European Union has taken some liberties related to international trade and consumer (un)protection (remember the TTIP and the CETA) that have profound labor, health and environmental consequences and whose negotiations have been made behind the European population’s back.

Anyway, I think there is one aspect of the European Union in which we could all contribute, and it is the cohesion of the peoples of Europe. It is true that the European Commission will have to continue funding and promoting programs such as Erasmus or EVS to boost the feeling of unity of European citizens, but each one as an individual has the responsibility to have an open mind to what surrounds him/her; and to understand that, in the end, we are not so different.

Text written in February 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

My name is Jone, I am 28 years old and I am from a city of 200,000 inhabitants, called San Sebastián, in the Basque Country, in the north of Spain. Since 2012 I have lived in France, currently in the city of Bayonne, in the French Basque area. I studied Humanities and translation, and before starting my EVS I used to work as a Basque language teacher.


Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3 (KA3) which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.