Three linked events over the last couple of weeks. First my daughter Sophie returned safely after a year’s back packing round the world. She went on the well worn trail to Australia new Zealand via lots of other Asian countries.
Second was the 50th anniversary of the EU, celebrated in style in Berlin but few other places in Europe as far as I can see; and finally my own quick trip recently to Croatia and Sweden.
What links them then? Well it struck me that my daughter has been all over the world but never to Germany or many other EU states. She, like so many of her peers, hot foot around the world at the first opportunity and explore the far reaches of the globe but rarely make one step into continental Europe apart from a cheap beach holiday in the sun.
When I was her age I, like all my friends, back packed as well, but that was exclusively in mainland Europe. I hitched and went by train and even drove across the great expanse of continental europe and loved every moment of it. It was a revelation of diversity. That was the only travel possible or affordable. But it gave me a lasting appreciation of the vibrancy and complexity of Europe and I realised what a privilege it was to be part of such a remarkable political experiment which is now celebrating its 50th birthday. It made me into a European and that love of the various corners of the EC has stayed with me for life.
My daughter and her friends have no such bonding. They know more about a small beaches in Laos than they do about Berlin or Dubrovnik and they don’t see the EU as their homeland or feel that sense of bonding to France or Italy or even Estonia.
I wonder what an impact that will make on their commitment to the European Union in 20 or 30 years?