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EU: elections and the future

In a short time, it will be May 23-26, time for the next elections for the European Parliament.

These elections are especially important, as they concern the future of Europe and its standing towards important subjects such as work, security, migration and climate change, some of the most discussed topics, be it in global or local politics. Topics which have a huge influence on our future and well-being in said future.

These elections may also mark an important turning point, seeing as the European Union is trying, and often struggling, to fight against the apathy of its citizens and the strong populist tide many countries seem to find themselves in.

The situation in my country, Germany, may be described as borderline apathy: European challenges such as Brexit have proven to us, that, though many like to criticise, there are more than enough advantages for staying in the EU. In fact, three out of four Germans believe the European membership to be successful for Germany, in contrast to a more nationalist solution. It is also agreed on, that challenges such as climate change must be fought against together, however, as of now, Germany has, despite this belief, stayed rather passive in contributing to find compromises and final solutions.

Hopefully, the coming elections will be able to compete with these threats, seeing as the European Union has brought so many advantages to its citizens, especially my generation is able to enjoy a mobility unknown to our parents or grandparents. Thanks to programmes, such as ERASMUS programmes, Europe’s inhabitants can study or take part in voluntary projects all over our continent, or, as it is in our case, support the University of Madeira here in Funchal.

Moreover, this is not the only benefit of the European Union, to take Madeira as an example again, most of its modern infrastructure, which allows people to travel all around the island in a matter of hours and not, as previously, days and weeks, was payed for, by the European Union.

Consequently, I hope that the coming elections are our first stop towards a European Union fitting its motto “United in diversity” and that, in 50 years, the EU will be appreciated as a way to unite people, ideas and live-changing innovations.

Text written in February 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

My name is Helen and I am an 18-year-old volunteer from Germany. In my free time, I enjoy singing and playing the guitar, read or spend time with my friends. In my holidays I love visiting foreign places with my family and learn about their history, which is why I am really excited to be a part of the History Tellers project.


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.