Although Europe Day was indicated as “optional” in our EU study abroad itinerary, I did not want to miss this wonderful opportunity. This event was held on May 28 this year to celebrate peace and unity in Europe. On this day, EU institutions (such as the European Commission and the European Parliament) are open to the public to visit various stands and activities, so this is a great day for EU citizens as well as international visitors to understand more about the European Union.
Since we have not yet explored the European Commission building, I decided to go there. The building was packed with people, especially kids. People learn about the European Commission as they stop by different stations inside the building. I had a chance to take a look at many different European Commission bodies such as Eurostat, the European Court of Auditors, TTIP, EU policy towards migration, EU competition policy, EU budget, climate and energy, EU guaranteed quality on food, etc.
Europe Day has really opened my eyes to see how important Europeans think it is to educate children, the next generation of European citizens. The interesting part was that each station has a quiz or game that helps players understand more about the functionality of a particular body or policy as they play. There was always a big playground section at each station specifically designed for kids. To many people, the idea of European unity and diversity is something Europeans are proud of, and they want to pass it on to future generations.
One of the most fascinating topics to me was the EU maritime and fisheries policy. Understanding the importance of aquaculture production as the main source of seafood in the future, the European Union applies strict rules to protect the consumers as well as the fish and to promote sustainable aquaculture. During the conversation with the staff, I learned some interesting facts. In terms of aquaculture production, the European Union is the eighth biggest producer. An estimated forty-three percent of aquaculture consumption is from the European Union. When eating fish, it is surprising to realize that the size does matter. For example, for sea bass, the minimum size to be considered legal is 25 cm and 18 cm for mackerels. This was something I did not know before.
Another thing that really caught my attention was the station for migration. There were many stands dedicated to significant topics such as legal migration, asylum information, and EU migration policy. In front of those stands was a big pillar posing one engaging question “what would make you leave your home country?”. It was an astonishing moment for me to see the answers on stickers and to witness how much Europeans care about the migration issue. Furthermore, interacting with the staff helped me have a better understanding of the main European Union legislation and initiatives towards migration policy. By implementing many directives and regulations such as the students and researcher’s directive, blue card directive, intra-corporate transferees directive, global approach to migration and mobility (GAMM), Dublin regulation, etc., the EU has been working hard to address irregular flows of migration while ensuring a proactive policy of sustainable and accessible process.
In conclusion, I thought it was a productive day for me, and I was glad that I took advantage of this opportunity. To be honest, I am pro-EU, and I think this is definitely a very good way for the European Union to inspire their own citizens.