In Or Out? The EU Referendum and Global Citizenship

Author/Editor: Lily Parsey

Global citizenship is a broader understanding of our responsibility towards other people across the world. It means that we place our identity within a global community rather than within the nation state. And it is about sharing and pursuing common goals that only the global community as a whole can fulfill.

In the increasingly globalised and intertwined world we live in, facing global challenges that need transnational initiative and cooperation, global citizenship has become more relevant than ever. And it is so especially currently in the face of the upcoming EU referendum on the 23rd June.

With the increasing pressure on the global community to find solutions to issues such as global warming, global health and wealth distribution and a countering force of rising nationalism across the world, the membership to an international institution such as the EU is more important than ever.

While there are many issues of democracy, transparency and representability within the EU institutions, problems which are also heavily faced on the UK level, the most important issues at hand seem to be that the EU is a platform for discussion, organisation, agreement and international joint action. More importantly, it protects certain rights across the complex territory of the EU.

Membership to the EU also involves many undeniable economic benefits for UK workers and the service sector. But most importantly in view of the current international situation, I believe that the EU is an important counter force to growing nationalism and extremism. Set up in the aftermath of the Second World War, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) as it was then called was part of the “Never Again” movement that followed the “greatest catastrophe of the 20th century”. Having witnessed the horrific consequences of nationalism driven to its extreme in the previous decades, there was a mutual attempt at overcoming national rivalries by collective unity and interdependence. The ECSC was set up in order to tie European nations together to prevent the outbreak of another continental war. Indeed, Robert Schuman, the founder of the ECSC, claimed that the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community would not only decrease the risk of a European war but actually completely annihilate it.

This is due to the fact that the states within the EU benefit so much from mutual cooperation and can so drastically lose out economically and diplomatically by disrupting peaceful cooperation. Accepting the fact that the EU needs reform, I thus believe it is still fundamental to international peace to pursue this close cooperation to solve the global issues at hand in a coordinated manner, setting an example to other nations and thus promoting international cooperation globally, as well as maintaining a strong economy and peaceful relations. As a global citizen, I believe it is important to create stronger ties rather than breaking them.

In the context of the Global Citizenship Programme, we thus found it important to shed some further light on the question of “In Or Out”. On the way to our interview with Bella Kerridge we crossed paths with a group of Leave campaigners who we asked for an interview. We spoke to two campaigners, however one of them “did not feel comfortable participating in an interview for UCL”, as he is suspicious of “what [UCL] gets up to”. When we asked him what exactly he was referring to, however he preferred not to answer as he thought we were probably “in on it” too.

Find below a short video of the interview with a Leave campaigner in his fourth year at UCL and please remember to vote on 23rd June!