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Maintaining a Union

The next elections for the European Parliament are almost here and more than ever, these elections will affect the future of the European Parliament.

Up till now most of the decisions were made by the major parties but this year this could change because of the growing support for smaller parties. Because of this, the decision making in the European Parliament might become more open and democratic. In this way the European Parliament might start to look more like the Dutch parliament where multiple smaller parties form the majority instead of just two big parties.

The Netherlands was one of the first countries to be part of the ‘European Coal and Steel Community’ which eventually became the European Union. With this many of the new European rules and laws were implemented in the Netherlands. In the last decade more and more people in the Netherlands have started the question the positive effects of the European Union. One of the main reasons for these negative views is the fact that the Netherlands pays more money to the EU then they recieve. Though many people see the negative side of our participation in the EU, we still see the positive sides as well.

For example, many people in the Netherlands value the possibility to travel freely within Europe.

One of the other positive aspects of the EU is the Erasmus programme, which brought all of us volunteers to Madeira. In this way we can see how the EU affects Madeira. Another way to see this is by looking at the infrastructure on Madeira. Many of the roads and constructions on Madeira have been funded by the EU to improve the conditions of the island to make it more attractive for tourism. The money that was used for these projects was most likely payed by countries in the EU that pay more money to the EU than they receive, the Netherlands being one of them. As expected, citizens of these paying countries are starting to question the EU and its effectiveness.

A challenge for the EU is to maintain support from all European citizens. A great example for this is Brexit. With the UK leaving the EU, the EU risks other countries following the UK.

For the EU it is important to keep the membership of the EU relevant for all countries, even the ones that have grown skeptic of its effectiveness.

The EU will be most effective and significant when there are many different countries involved that all have their own culture and input so that we can make Europe a place that houses many different stories, languages and cultures of the countries all working together to create the best possible connection between them so that in the future we can be as ‘united in diversity’ as possible.

Text written in February 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

I’m Flore Paumen, 18 years old, and currently taking a gap year. I love making art, music, playing guitar, photography and traveling.


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 to 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.