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Valentina, 27 años, estudiante, italiana, vive en Edimburgo

I will continue dreaming of Europa

, by translated by Marie Menke, Valentina Romanazzi

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For one year I have now been living in Scotland’s capital Edinburgh, home to haggis and kilts. I came to take a four-week English course, but I stayed because of a city so full of history where the sea and the mountains live together just as the Scottish live together with lots of people from Spain and Italy, and I decided to stay without deciding on when I would return.

I was born in 1988, just a few years after Italy introduced the single currency (1992). I grew up in a society where I was constantly told, “If you do not speak English, you will not make it anywhere!”. I am part of the generation “Erasmus”, I travel only with my ID using low cost flights, I have always felt primarily like a citizen of the world, then like a European citizen and last like an Italian.

Before June 24th, I was worried, but I trusted my generation, those young travelers who are open to the world. But London, Manchester, Liverpool, Scotland and North Ireland were not enough. Great Britain is no longer part of the European Union. Most British citizens did not realize what they were getting themselves into. They voted Leave, because they were scared of the threatening immigration coming from Eastern Europe and from the south of the Mediterranean.

Certainly the EU is no perfect place to be. One would need to see frugal politics again, create a European welfare state as well real united politics etc. There is a lot to work on, a lot to talk about and a lot we must try to change, but real and profound change can only come from the interior of the European Union’s institutions. The step we took betrayed the dream of a Europe which could have been united in the future – not only economically, but also politically and – first of all – socially. It betrayed so many young people’s possibility to study in the country they choose or to just spend six months of Erasmus abroad. It betrayed a piece of our freedom.

So what? The pound is collapsing, David Cameron has retired, the Labour Party has lost its trust in Jeremy Corbyn, the leaders who are occupying the European Parliament are asking to start the necessary process right away, so that Great Britain will officially and definitely no longer be part of the EU. They are collecting signatures in order to start a petition asking the British Parliament for a second consultation, and also they are asking to break free from London in order to be able to stay in “the heart of Europe”. Nicola Sturgeon, the prime minister of Scotland, has announced that his government will demand discussions with Brussels in order to allow Scotland to remain part of the European Union. The leaders of European populist right parties (thinking of Matteo Salvini and Marine Le Pen) are ready to demand a similar referendum in their own countries.

But what is it likely to change for those of us who already live on the other side of the coast of the North Sea? No more free traffic of goods and people, thus rising taxes and prices, a passport suddenly becoming just as necessary as crossing borders, no more free health care, the need of a working permit in order to continue living in the court of Queen Elisabeth, probably also less low cost traveling opportunities. More bureaucracy and less freedom for all!

A lot of European citizens who live on the British island stated that since the referendum they felt like foreigners for the very first time, but I am not willing to give up. I will continue living in Scotland, a country so rich of change and temptation, despite all the papers I will have to sign. I will continue living with just my ID and booking low cost flights, I will continue dreaming of a multicultural society where “the foreigner” is an aid and no additional weight. I will continue dreaming of a Europe without frontiers and without borders of any kind.

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