Letter to Europe: Brexit viewed from Bonn

, by Biljana Vrhovac

Letter to Europe: Brexit viewed from Bonn
If Brexit happens, young people will live with its consequences for the longest. Photo: John Lubbock / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Dear fellow Europeans,

My name is Biljana Vrhovac, I am a doctoral candidate at the university of Bonn and President of the Young European Federalists in Bonn. We, the Young European Federalists, are the main pro-European organisation for young people in Bonn.

I want to give a short impression on how Brexit is viewed by young people in Germany based on the Brexit cafe we organised in collaboration with the “My Life My Say” initiative and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Bonn this summer. The Brexit Cafe took place at the University of Bonn and obtained a huge response among students from various subjects and nationalities as well as pupils from local schools.

On the day of the Brexit referendum we, as the Young European Federalists, had an event in the European Commission Representation in Bonn about Eastern Europe and its countries’ perspective of becoming EU member states. When we were talking about the European Union it was only about integration, never about disintegration. On that day, it was only worth a side note by the European Commission’s representative that the Brexit referendum was even happening. No one in Germany had expected the implications of that decision. Some even felt betrayed with regard to the founding principles of peace and reconciliation, which were so pressing after World War II.

Each and every one of us knows the facts – we now hear them several times a day. We saw that the turnout amongst young people, who overwhelmingly voted for remaining in the EU, was not as high as we had hoped for. Each and every one of us knows that 1.4 million young Brits were not entitled to vote at the Brexit referendum. If the Brexit referendum took place today, the result would most probably not be “Leave” but “Remain”.

The Brexit Cafe we had in Bonn was not about reversing the Brexit referendum as such, or asking for a second referendum. It was about how to best handle a decision we don’t agree with. It was also about taking responsibility for an outcome that we caused by underestimating the dissatisfaction with the EU.

The day after the referendum, Brexit was the world’s most googled term on the internet. My Life My Say wants to inform about Brexit and steer Brexit for the benefit of young people. We, as young Germans, are really happy to connect and create a lifeline between Europe and the United Kingdom.

The question is which conclusion, we as individuals but also the EU as a whole, can draw from the Brexit referendum. That was to my mind the key question we debated among each other and with MEP Tiemo Wölken during the Brexit Cafe in Bonn. The German member of the European Parliament pointed out that young people are now getting involved in Brexit because they can see that their opinion matters, and they can actually make a difference.

Tiemo Wölken is right. We have a say and we should say it out loud. As Mete mentioned in Bonn, young people will live with the consequences of Brexit the longest. And it might be our task to have a European Re-Union with Britain.

Your comments

  • On 1 December 2018 at 15:20, by Anne Maria Jenkins Replying to: Letter to Europe: Brexit viewed from Bonn

    You should be helping us find a way to stop Brexit not talking about Brexit. I am not a young person, but I am someone who cares about being a Part of the EU.

    So help us find ways to black Brexit and stop this nonsense once and for all.

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