Happy Birthday EU! – 60 years after the Treaties of Rome

60 years ago the foundation for today’s EU was laid when Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany signed the Treaties of Rome.

60 years of development, successes, crises and backdrops, but most important of all: 60 years of peace in Europe and 60 years of growing together to one Union.
The EU’s development until today was never easy or without backdrops and problems: France didn’t want Great Britain to join, the Empty Chair Crisis and the non-completion of a European Constitution. However, the EU always found an answer, a solution to the problem and developed further, came back stronger.
The Common European Market was established, inner-EU border-controls abolished and the Euro invented.

And today? Where is Europe heading?
Of course there are problems and crises the EU has to face, maybe more challenging than ever before, or just different?
Migration from Northern Africa, terrorism, and still some outliers of the financial crisis are challenging, however the EU is strong enough to combat these challenges, if it stays together, if we stay together.
Anti-EU movements within some Nation-States, such as political organizations or Brexit as the ultimate are developments within the nations and among the people of Europe. Nevertheless, the reaction to Brexit as well as the recent outcomes of the election in the Netherlands show that the people still believe in the EU, and we should do so! The EU offers a lot: we can travel through the EU as we like, without a passport, for most of the countries we do not even have to change money. Without the EU every of our countries would be alone, would be a minor player (if so at all) at the world scene, between America, China and Russia.

Therefore, we should March For Europe, we should celebrate and we should thank what it brought already and what it offers us.

By Ann-Kristin Gross

Another kind of integration: participating in Carnival

Its coming closer again – every year between early-February and mid-March there is no other topic as highly discussed and dividing as Karneval or Fasching or Fasnet.

First, it divides German society in those going jeck (mad, crazy) during Karneval and those fleeing from the country to either go skiing or enjoying sun in a far-away Karneval-escape. Next, this season divides those who love Karneval into different groups, calling it Karneval, Fasching or Fasnet, depending on where they live.
While North-Rhine-Westphalia is a carnivals stronghold where it draws serious consequences to call this week of drinking alcohol and running around in crazy outfits Fasching. In the south however, it is opposite: do not say Karneval in Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg! It is at least Fasching, however a true Swabian would never say Fasching but Fasnet!

And of course every carnival stronghold is the best, in their eyes. The title of being THE carnival stronghold is highly contested, especially Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mainz are competing against each other and make fun of the others’ attempts of celebrating.
A quick tip:
When you participate in Cologne’s Karneval: Never say HELAU, shout ALAAF whenever possible 😉
When participating in Düsseldorf’s or Mainz’s celebrations use HELAU and do not try out what happens if you shout ALAAF.