The EU and its branding problem

Last week on Friday I was in Sweden to celebrate Midsummer, one of the most important events in the Swedish calendar. I woke up early to check the referendum result. I almost fainted because of the pain I felt when I read the outcome.

The EU is not perfect. It has many problems and it’s hard to fully articulate its pros and cons.

The EU has a branding problem because it’s hard to say what it does. When people who were supporting Brexit asked me what the EU is good for I found it hard to give them just three strong arguments.

Last year I was at a large party and I spoke to a Swedish politician who was working on EU relationships. According to him the EU is about peace and helping create better living standards in the countries that are members. Hmm, has he ever visited a deprived area where people feel little hope for the future? How is the EU helping them?

There is a lot of tension around European borders and why they are there. It’s borders that create suffering and people die to get into Europe.

All countries that are members of the EU have national political problems and they’re not the EU’s fault. They are caused by other factors and if we are going to blame someone it has to be the local and national politicians who are not making big and brave plans for the future.

All countries need to look at:

  • Do people have somewhere to live? In Sweden and the UK there are not enough cheap housing options.
  • The school system: are we educating our children so they are prepared for the world we live in? Well, there is a lot to be done here isn’t there?
  • Social care and helping people who, for whatever reason, are outside ‘normal’ society. There will always be people who for different reasons can’t support themselves. How the country you live in looks after them and makes life bearable for them is crucial. Does your country do a good job here?
  • Infrastructure: how is your country investing in infrastructure and things like faster broadband?
  • Security: do the police help you feel safe? There are improvements to be made here in most countries I believe.
  • The healthcare system needs to be better managed everywhere, and we need to strive for a society of health habits. To stop the food industry making money on selling crap sugary food would be a good start.
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All governments ask their citizens to pay taxes to support the country and its systems. Who are the big villains here, and who is not paying taxes? It seems a bit strange to me that large corporations are allowed to avoid paying any taxes at all when they have a huge presence in a country. By making it harder for them to slip through the system you can get a lot of money you can invest into the society.

There are lots more things that our national politicians are working on and looking at for their country, these are just a few issues. That a country has problems like these above has nothing to do with the EU.

I think it’s going to be hard for the politicians who support Brexit to make the UK leave the EU. When I counted last week 479 members of the parliament out of 650 were against leaving the EU.

The world is global. We move and work wherever we can. The internet is a blessing for business and connectivity.

If we are going to look for a scapegoat to blame it can’t be the EU. The UK’s problems are local and national, they were not created by the EU.

The branding problem is that the EU needs to look at what they do and whether it is in line with their purpose. And I have an important question to the EU:

Is there anywhere you can go to read a simple account of what the EU has achieved and is working on? I need to sharpen my three arguments for why the EU should exist.

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Thank you. Tack. Merci. Vielen Dank!