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Elections and the future of the EU

Europe is going through quite a difficult period; facing turbulent times and big important questions coming along forces the EU to think how it is going to shape its future.

What kind of solutions it will it be able to make and how well will they work eventually. The European Union has survived before, so now it just needs to focus on solving problems in a innovative way and try to keep people trusting and believing on the work of Union. Europe has to be able to react quickly for the changing reality and to turn the challenges in to possibilities.

This next citation is about the motto of the EU (”United in diversity”) and so, according to the European Commission; “The motto means that, via the EU, Europeans are united in working together for peace and prosperity, and that the many different cultures, traditions and languages in Europe are a positive asset for the continent.This amounts to the embracement of multiculturalism as the goal of European integration, as opposed to the goal of an emerging European identity which had been advocated in the 1990s.”

The next elections to the European Parliament are going to be in 23-26 of May, 2019. A total of 751 Members of the European Parliament, MEPs, currently represent more than 512 million people from 28 member states of Union. In February 2018 the European Parliament voted to decrease the number of MEPs from 751 to 705 after the United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union on the current schedule.

The European Union has the so called Northern Ireland issue on its hands. A proposal to manage the unique situation of Ireland and in particular, Northern Ireland, created as a result of Brexit, consists of allocating the extra MEP seats for Ireland and giving them to Northern Ireland.

In that proposal the European Union has faced multiple critics; some consider that as a dangerous precedent, some again say that ”any attempt to by an Irish government to allow for the election of representatives to speak on behalf of Northern Ireland would renege on commitments given as part of the Northern Ireland peace process”. That kind of issue would most likely need an agreement from Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

On the official page of the European Union they have published a text collection called White Paper of the future of Europe and it includes for example more information about these challenges that European Union is facing at the moment. First of all, new technologies are invented all the time and they are all the time more and more effective so therefore the European Union should be able to solve possible problems that the increased use of technology and automation on the job market and industry could cause.

Another big and significant thing is climate change, the Union needs to bring more innovative environmental solutions to the market, at home and also abroad. As well as that, it would be important to make some decisions in the field of migration; the main challenge is to protect our borders while preserving the right to free movement in Europe. In today’s society we are facing also many kinds of security threats, at our doors and within the union, for instance war and terrorism in the Middle East and Africa and the mission of building up troops at eastern borders.

Europe also has to deal with the legacy of economic crisis; long-term unemployment and high public and private debt. Aging population causes challenges in its own part; the Union should find the way to modernise our social welfare systems. One significant challenge is likewise the rise of populist and nationalist rhetoric. The challenge is to restore people’s trust, deliver according to expectations and to build a consensus between member states. Furthermore other things that involve challenges for the Union are a shrinking population and waning economic power.

At the same time President Trump’s skepticism of the EU and his reported assessment of the bloc as an economic competitor has induced some concerns. Some European Union countries cause challenges to the Union for instance Greece, Italy and Spain. Greece, and therefore the European Union, are still carrying the legacy of the crisis in Greece.

Spain and Italy are in so called danger zone because of their huge amount of debt. Also Russia causes some challenges because of its way to hit the wedge between the unity of members of the European Union. Naturally Brexit, Britain’s decision to separate itself from European Union, still affects to the Union and probably the relationships of its countries.

Text written in February 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

Anni Ruskela, a volunteer from Kajaani, Finland.


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.