By Felix Boos.
Walking through Toronto Airport is always a source of joy for me – my girlfriend (Canadian) and I (German) are in a long distance relationship transatlantic style. But on June 24, I felt genuinely sad. 51.9% of the UK population voted to leave the European Union. Young Britons’ right to live and work in 27 nations is in peril, as is young Europeans’ right to live and work in Britain.
I am myself not the best European citizen. I didn’t do my gap year volunteering in Europe – I went to India to volunteer. I won’t contribute to a growing army of Erasmus babies – but I fell in love in my exchange year as well. Being outside of Europe made me realize how important the EU is to my future.
Of course, there’s a lot of economic benefits. I don’t worry about exchange rates if I travel to Porto. Boarder agents were akin to unicorns for me before I traveled outside of Europe – they still scare me like hell even though I’m a white man. My cell phone bill is way lower than what it was in Canada. All of these things matter. But while you may win an election on “it’s the economy, stupid!”, being part of an every closer Europe is about what country and continent we want to live in.
It’s about whether citizenship equals your parents’ skin color or a shared commitment to democracy, the rule of law, minority and refugee rights. It’s about whether people like my girlfriend can become an equal part of the community. It’s about whether Farage, Petry and Co. restore the 1950s or we, the young European generation, strive for the 2050s. That’s what leave or remain means. That’s why, on June 24, I committed myself to not let my future be destroyed by people who won’t have to deal with that mess. Let the struggle for our future in the EU begin!