Cllr Kieran McCarthy (Cork City Council, Ireland) President of the European Alliance Group, pointed out that the European identity had been silently built for centuries among people who live both inside and outside the present-day European Union. “But we have to connect that feeling of cultural belonging to Europe to the European Union and we cannot do so by presenting the EU as purely a project which creates economic benefits. We need a strong emotional component,” he stressed. “To feel a common identity we need to have a sense of a common belonging.”
Cllr McCarthy further highlighted the need to teach children and young adults about the European Union and its added value, but also about the challenges it is facing. Mobility and peer-to-peer programmes, such as Erasmus+ had done more for European unity than hundreds of communication campaigns.
“We need to promote and enable contacts between people at all levels and every generation will be more European than the previous one,” Cllr McCarthy concluded.