Tonight, what seemed so far away for so long, will turn into reality. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will definitely leave the European Union, and along with it the EU customs union, the Erasmus+ Programme, as well as other agreements, be it completely or partially. It is still unclear what the totality of its consequences will be, both for the EU and for the UK.
What remains clear is that Brexit is a step in the wrong direction. Only 35 years ago, when the Schengen Agreement was not even yet signed, the mere thought of crossing most of Europe without any border control would have been labelled as nonsense. The same applies to the 10 million young people that have benefitted from an exchange abroad thanks to the Erasmus+ Programme and its predecessors. Or to the visa-free agreements signed with several non-EU countries, such as Ukraine, Moldova or Georgia.
It has been so few years yet so much has happened in between. The same Europe that had always been characterised by conflicts has clearly grown a tendency to break borders, and while before it seemed extremely exotic for a Portuguese to meet someone from Sweden, today such happenings are becoming increasingly common, thanks to youth organisations as AEGEE-Europe promoting youth mobility and intercultural exchange. We are starting to realise that behind the curtains of our nationalities we remain exactly the same: humans.
As an association that strives for a democratic, diverse, and borderless Europe, AEGEE-Europe deeply regrets the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. While the decision cannot be changed, we do hope for a future reconsideration of the UK into joining back the Union, which will be undoubtedly lead by the British youth that unquestionably voted in favour for the Remain.
The European Union is certainly far from perfect, and it has flaws that need to be addressed. However, in AEGEE we believe that this is the best attempt so far into reaching our vision of a Europe truly united in diversity. AEGEE will keep welcoming young citizens from the UK to join our network and to keep up our journey for a truly borderless Europe.