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Europe: where homemade cheese disappears

Published on

Story by

Jane Mery

Translation by:

Sarah Gray


As do passport stamps...but peace, diversity and change prevail. readers choose their three terms which best define the Europe we’re still dreaming of. Anthology.

When the European Union pops up on our TV screens, more often than not we seen only images of pessimism, fears about an anxious globalised future, the fear of losing control … Turning the European dream into an economic and social reality for an entire continent is of course a difficult task. There will be treaties to discuss, elections to be held, debate to be encouraged. To refresh our memories on the meaning of our commitment to Europe, readers give us three words which best represent this utopia.

‘Home Sweet Home’

(Image: guesus/ Flickr)The people who responded to our call were mostly girls, aged between nineteen and thirty. Amongst the numerous linguistic offerings there were, of course, some repetitions. The word peace was the most popular. By way of comparison, the same word was chosen by Europeans in a 2005 survey by French research group TNS Sofres, on Europe as seen by its inhabitants. However, on that occasion German, French, Spanish, Polish and British citizens only put ‘peace’ in third position, after the ‘euro’ and ‘freedom to travel, study and work’ with the Schengen zone.

‘European Citizens on the Future of Europe’, a study carried out by the European Union in 2006, also gave ‘peace’ as the winning word for evoking the ideal of Europe: ‘Europe seems to be factor in stability, peace and security,’ the text states. But does it feel like home?

‘Pretext for Change’

To get back to the revelations of our own humble hand-made survey, Babelians were equally fond of several other terms, including hope and future. ‘For me Europe is a magnificent excuse to question oneself. As a person first of all, with the discovery of a country, a language, a music or another person. Then as a country, to be in competition with each other, given that the solutions to the challenges of our times will be much more effective if we find them together,’ explains one of our more talkative Babelians.

‘We belong together’

Unity and solidarity. Good result, as these words also came up in investigations carried out by the EU. The European brotherhood! as Victor Hugo put it. ‘Positive notions of unification and solidarity are often given in participants,’ answers as a factor in integration (despite the inflationary effect), and 'freedom of movement is particularly important for the new members states,’ the same study notes.

‘Handmade cheese disappearing’

Next come the words diversity and sharing. And the opposite effect, in the form of a loss of our cultural identity, brings us to the expression ‘handmade cheese disappearing’. The paradise of ‘living together’ and cultural diversity does have a negative side, and there is a fear of seeing traditional values and local knowledge disappear, local dishes for example.

‘Fewer passport stamps’

But above all dreaming of Europe means crossing it, walking upon it and striding over its borders. We end with a brief anthology of words which were suggested only once by free-spirited readers: ‘movement’, ‘bridges’, ‘travel’, ‘spring’, ‘variety’. Not forgetting ‘indefinable’, ‘vision’, ‘ideal’, ‘necessity’, ‘words’, ‘change’, ‘deepening’, ‘identity’, ‘complex’, and to finish, a touch of the ‘eternal’.

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Translated from L’Europe : un « idéal » « complexe » et « indéfinissable »