THE BLOG

In Our More Globalised and Connected World, We Should Remain in Europe

14/06/2016 16:55
YUI MOK via Getty Images

young voter

"Stay in the EU permanently?" or "Vote Leave and take back control". Again I woke up to find another referendum leaflet posted through my letterbox. "THE UK AND THE EUROPEAN UNION: THE FACTS" boldly stated at the top, followed by a compilation of statements and supporting evidence for the "safer option to Vote Leave".

This entire debate has escalated into a riot of 'he said, she said' and deteriorated into a total shambles of politicians throwing conflicting figures at each other. Throughout the campaign we have been bombarded with overwhelming numbers and elusive facts about the EU, so tremendous in scale that they are impossible to relate to our daily lives. Quite frankly, politicians are 'putting the people off politics'.

I've had enough of trying to make sense of intangible migration statistics and arguments over the prospects of striking fabulous trade deals versus forecasts of a severe economic downturn. I don't want to get caught up in a Tory civil war, scaremongering and shouting matches.

As a young voter I am one of thousands who, if turn up on polling day, could reportedly 'hold the key' to sway the nation's ultimate decision. Now I feel even more pressure to get the vote right, and truly understand what leaving the EU could mean.

For me the EU Referendum is about defining what this generation wants from the 21st Century. This century is ours more than anyone else's, we'll be the ones who see it through and these potentially radical changes in policies will shape our future. For better, for worse- who knows? Only time will tell.

What's best for Britain? Of course there's a great element of uncertainty. Nobody can predict the full extent of consequences, liberation or reclaiming independence, because no country has ever left before. It sparks an endless stream of thoughts and raises points I'd never even considered.

Why are we favouring some over others with the right to live, work and settle here, purely because of their geographical proximity? What about those outside the EU? How can we be certain that the government will successfully find a solution to reform the migration system? Do we trust our politicians to implement changes that reflect our society's wants and needs?

After feeling a mixture of doubt, hope and confusion about the choice Britain faces, I ask myself, what does it mean to be a European citizen? In fact, what does it even mean to be a British citizen?

We live in a global society, with global competition, global challenges, international politics, and sharing diversity and cultures. Perhaps being a Global citizen is more appropriate.

I recently participated in the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme with Restless Development, and returned from working in rural India, living and volunteering in a village called Alangayam that lacked access to basic services..

Alongside local Indian volunteers, we delivered sessions engaging young people to address the most urgent issues they face within their communities and country such as sanitation, health and employment.

In a sense, the EU Referendum holds an element of similarity to our sessions. British people are addressing the issues they face with Europe, their country and community such as the NHS, wages and jobs. Yet, these 'issues' are put into perspective when reliving the stark poverty I saw in an area where 75% of households do not have toilets and 54% of people live on less than 68p a day.

So what's this got to do with the Referendum? Learning about a different reality, so far removed from my own, has shaped my outlook on things. I developed a greater worldview. It undoubtedly taught me the importance of young people in our society today, and as the world's future and current leaders we deserve the right to choose our own paths and challenge the issues affecting our lives.

By all means, the EU certainly has its flaws and there are many things I disagree with. However, I feel that with the heightened threat of global issues we face, international cooperation is vital now more than ever. Whether this is in response to security, the migration crisis, human rights, conflict or climate change, global issues are something a young person in particular has to think about. We will grow up and witness how these international crises unfold and how such challenges are dealt with. For sure, they cannot be resolved by any one country acting alone. We will still have to address these matters, regardless of remaining in the EU or not, and look beyond Britain's borders.

Trying to shut out these issues only aggravates the situation, right up until the impact of war, poverty or mass migration (whatever it may be) arrives quite literally on our doorstep. The effects will undoubtedly influence our living conditions, work, spending, and daily life in general. It is in our interest how we respond with our allies, working together, and it concerns every individual.

So I believe, that in our current, ever increasing globalised and connected world, we should remain in.

Flo Savage has recently returned from a volunteering programme in India with Restless Development. An enthusiast for international development, community action and the arts, she will begin studying at Edinburgh University this Autumn in Social & Political Sciences

HuffPost UK Young Voices is running a month-long focus on the EU Referendum, examining what is at stake for Britain's young people on 23 June and why it's imperative you register to vote and have your say. If you want to have your say and blog on our platform around this topic, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com. Register to vote here.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS