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Who are Wales for Europe?

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Valerie Evans

Who are Wales for Europe? People like me, who will discreetly wear some blue for EU on 31st Jan, be hurt if Big Ben chimes to ring us out, be curious about what to expect at border control when I next drive to see my grandchildren in France, be sad that, unlike friends in Poland, it is I who am now the EU outsider?

All of us have a list of what we will miss. Maybe the first thing we need to do is agree that for us, there should be a day of acknowledgment of loss. Jan 31st is a mourning of the dream and reality we shared with the EU for 47 years since 1973.

But we have to move on. Democracy has spoken, not once but twice. We have to regroup and be positive.

Reasons to be positive. If Wales for Europe means anything it must mean that Wales is for Europe, whether we are in the EU or not. Even if W4E was started as a single-issue group, it can get down to defining new goals.

The EU is a trade community – that’s all – set up to promote free trade, the other community links came later. The EU was not set up to foster communication and sharing of culture, but it could be. A new EU – a cultural EU – is possible, a community that shares and engages through cross-cultural links. Many of these are already in place and have been for decades, but we can learn from them, plus increase and enhance.

I see four areas we could start on, believing that we have the potential to make something massive, so big, that Brexit becomes very, very small.

SHARE CULTURE

One goal could be this. Why not audit, highlight and create current cultural links. There are already masses of them. Those interested can use our data to join ongoing activities or create their own. They would have a resource where they can learn from current successful cultural links about process and good practice. We can produce some modelling or structure for new projects, even create a few trial projects.  We don’t need funding, just a will and volunteer s to research and share findings and even create new links, small is good. We could make a start, secure in the knowledge that we are going to serve ongoing cultural activities through highlighting them and encouraging and support the creation of new ones.

HIGHLIGHT STRENGTH OF CULTURE

Not enough people in the EU know enough about Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland have higher profiles and stronger views against Brexit. On two occasions they have voted to remain. This is not true for Wales. For historical reasons, Wales starts from a different position. If too few other EU countries know enough about us, or us about them we can change that. Wales is the cultural repository of the Celtic culture – language, faith, customs. It had a huge legacy to share, as well as its current cultural strengths, think music, song, comedy, drama, green tourism, green technologies, conservation, and more. It should share and share again. Wales for Europe could take on a role in highlighting awareness of Welsh history and cultural identity. Highlighting Welsh culture in itself, historic and current, could raise awareness of our strengths and our confidence as a nation.

YOUTH DISCOVERY

The under 35’s have most to lose by our exit from the EU. Where are they, who are they, what do they think, what do they want to do?  We should be seeking them out, questioning, listening, reporting and learning what they think, want, and are prepared to do and reporting back.

 CAMPAIGN FOR ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP.

In the early days after the referendum, there was talk of Associate EU citizenship for Brits who chose to opt for it. We could find out more and support campaigning for this.  The most recent news of this came from The New European on 19th December 2019 – just after the election result, so this is important to follow this up. https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/petition-for-brits-to-receive-associate-eu-citizenship-1-6432703

So, willing workers to make the W4E site and organisation a sharing, strengthening, researching and campaigning organisation. All it needs is people willing to chip in with effort.