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WorldWhat does it mean to be European in the Brexit era? We asked millennials

13:16  07 april  2019
13:16  07 april  2019 Source:   nbcnews.com

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European millennials were born with the privilege of few borders, easy travel and free trade, thanks in part to the European Union. One thing Europeans as a whole tend to agree on is that the Brexit turmoil in the U.K. has put them off leaving the 28-country bloc.

News What does it mean to be European in the Brexit era ? Some Europe analysts argued that the rise of euroskeptic parties in the region had emboldened anti-E.U. lawmakers to believe it was possible to change the bloc from within — prompting them to change positions on exiting.

A Danish student pops down to Germany for candy and soda. A Spanish web developer travels around Europe in his van. A German farmer looks forward to living and working in another country on the continent.

European millennials were born with the privilege of few borders, easy travel and free trade, thanks in part to the European Union. But although E.U. law underpins the realities of their daily lives, many young people admit they know relatively little about the organization and how it works.

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World news What does it mean to be European in the Brexit era ? We asked millennials . It 's not just the U.K. that would be impacted by a "no-deal" Brexit . Netherlands, Belgium, and France would likely see immediate effects such as loss of trade and delays at their ports. And no member state will want

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One thing Europeans as a whole tend to agree on is that the Brexit turmoil in the U.K. has put them off leaving the 28-country bloc. In the latest E.U. survey from October, the proportion of people who believe that their country’s membership is a good thing reached its highest level since 1992.

This burst of positivity comes as more than 373 million voters across E.U. member states prepare to elect new representatives to the 705-seat Parliament, which is based in three different countries.

In the last election in 2014, turnout among the young was particularly low, with only 28 percent of people 18 to 24 casting a ballot, compared to some 51 percent of those over 55. This year's elections are scheduled for May 23-26.

With E.U. leaders set to decide Wednesday whether to grant Britain another Brexit extension, and seven weeks the before E.U. elections, NBC News spoke with young people in six countries to better understand what it means to be European in 2019.

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The Brexit transition period is due to end on December 31 of this year. That means the UK has to negotiate its future relationship with Europe in just Formal negotiations will begin on March 3. In the meantime, both sides will outline their priorities and draw their red lines. If history tells us anything, the

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Here are some of their stories.

Spain: Gonzalo Ahijado, 28

Gonzalo Ahijado describes himself as a digital nomad. He works as a freelance web developer and travels around in a van and on his bike.

Seven years ago, he left the small Spanish town where he grew up and moved to London to learn English and see the world. He ended up staying in the British capital for two years, working as a waiter, before returning to Spain.

Spain’s membership in the E.U. has given him the freedom to live and work anywhere across its 28 member states. Yet Ahijado said he knows little about the E.U. and how it affects life in Spain.

“I don’t know if it’s something cultural, or maybe something related to the news, but we don’t have too much information about the European role here in Spain," Ahijado said. "I think we should know more about it, because in the end it’s something very important to Spanish people, to young people."

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While a disorderly Brexit would hurt the EU, several top European officials warned that no delay would be Coburn added that he is hopeful for his party’s success in the European election, considering the frustration of Britons with "I think people do not like the way that Britain has been treated by the EU."

So, what does ' Brexit ' mean , and what do young people need from politicians right now? Suella Braverman: “Lots of people in the UK have benefited from cheap flights to Europe , as have Europeans flying here — so we 're working hard to make sure that after Brexit , you still have access to lots of

Despite his self-professed lack of knowledge, he feels fortunate that he has the opportunity to live and work across the E.U.

Ahijado is now preparing to set off on a world tour.

“I like the E.U.,” he said. “For me to travel is to feel free. For me traveling is freedom.”

Croatia: Sabina Stipanec, 29

Unlike many other young Croats, Sabina Stipanec decided to remain in her homeland instead of moving to another European country.

Croatia is one of the newest members of the E.U., having joined in 2013.

Since then, migration out of the country has skyrocketed, especially among young people looking for work.

The country has a youth unemployment rate of 31 percent. In 2017, 48 percent of those who migrated were 20 to 39. In comparison, youth unemployment in the U.S. stands at 9.2 percent.

Stipanec decided to stay, thanks to the job she found as a project manager at a youth association.

“In general I don’t have very strong feelings for the European Union. I think it has some benefits for Croatia and Croatian people. I don’t hate it, I don’t love it,” said Stipanec, who lives in a small town 40 miles southeast of the capital, Zagreb.

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Theresa May has written to the EU to request a further delay to Brexit until 30 June. The UK is currently due to leave the EU on 12 April and, as yet, no wit But she said the UK would prepare to field candidates in those elections, in case they do not reach agreement.

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“We do have much more opportunities now that we are a part of the European Union so we can go work abroad more easily, which is also a good thing and a bad thing for Croatia. Also a lot of programs for youth in particular are now open to us, and I think that’s really great.”

Though the country’s membership in the bloc has caused a brain drain of sorts, she thinks it would be “crazy” for Croatia to consider leaving.

“A lot of the reasons why Croatian people voted for the European Union revolved around the corruption in Croatia and not trusting our politicians,” she said. “We have some kind of security when we are in the E.U. and some kind of protection.”

Germany: Hannes Bumann, 23

Hannes Bumann is part of a rapidly disappearing breed: He’s a farmer whose family has owned their farm in a small village in the north of Germany for a century.

His future as a farmer, however, is now up in the air after his family was forced to rent their land to a larger company last summer during a prolonged drought.

They have kept some of their livestock, and Bumann is currently caring for them as he waits for his master’s program in agricultural studies to begin.

“We used to have a range of livestock: cows, pigs and even chickens. But the E.U. came along with so many regulations that we had to let them go one by one,” said Bumann, who hopes to get a job at a large agriculture company when he finishes his degree.

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“Now we’re down to only six bulls. It’s really the hardest part," he said. "You have a connection with them.”

Fifteen years ago, his small village was home to five small farms. They have all closed or rented out their land to larger concerns.

Though he blames E.U. regulations for complicating the lives of farmers, he also acknowledges that many farmers are dependent on E.U. subsidies for survival.

“All of the systems that are tied to the E.U. are very complex and that system is difficult to understand. I do not get it 100 percent and maybe there needs to be more explaining,” he said.

But he personally feels that being in the E.U. offers him opportunities he wouldn’t have otherwise.

“The E.U. has a positive impact on our lives,” he said. “I am free to decide where I want to work and where I want to live, and that is possible without a large effort within the E.U.”

Denmark: Lærke Løvendal Kristensen, 22

The small town where Lærke Løvendal Kristensen lives is closer to the German border than it is to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark.

In just over an hour she can pop down from Lunderskov to Germany to shop, or drive through three countries — and zero border checkpoints — for a vacation on the coast of Croatia.

The E.U. has in part made that possible, but Kristensen said that she has little knowledge about how the organization works.

“We don’t learn in Denmark about the E.U. very much. You have to seek the knowledge yourself, and I don’t think people do that,” said Kristensen, who is studying for a university degree in Danish. “We have open borders, and we can go to Germany and buy candy and sodas, and that’s it. People don’t know what the consequences will be if we’re not a part of the E.U. anymore.”

Despite her lack of understanding, she has no doubt that Denmark should stay in the bloc, and thinks that it acts as a protection for Denmark.

“In the E.U., we actually have a voice in the world perspective, which we don’t have if we’re just little Denmark in the north,” she said.

Immigration is a hot topic around the E.U. and especially in Denmark. Nearly 50 percent of Danes say it's the most important issue facing the E.U. today, according to a recent Eurobarometer survey.

Kristensen credits her strong Christian faith for making her feel more open to immigrants. And she sees Danish culture as a way of uniting people of different backgrounds, from sports to the beloved brun sovs, a smooth gravy Danes put on potatoes.

“We can’t live without it. It’s a part of being Danish I think,” she said. “It’s something we all can agree to in Denmark. Even though it’s a very weird thing to be agreeing on.”

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