23rd June 2017
It has been a good twelve months. A change from the morning of 24th June 2016, when I went to sleep (in Spain), head spinning from the EU referendum results.
Since then, I’ve been to six Spanish cities, to Frankfurt briefly (twice); I learned some Italian in Bologna (where I was told to leave the EU passport queue); I went to Slovakia, Hungary and Romania for the first time(s); I popped to Dublin for a communion and Turin for a wedding (posts to come).
Meanwhile, the EU have been preparing for our exit negotiations. With a mandate laid out and agreed by 27 EU leaders and a crack team, they are ready for the minutiae of the coming talks.
Alongside these preparations, the UK has denied reality, repeated meaningless catchphrases and become further divided with a botched general election.
In contrast, support for the EU is increasing (even in the UK) and the EU27 look set to form a closer, more effective union. Macron’s election – on a staunchly pro-EU campaign – has given the union new life. (The UK, on the other hand, has talked about a new Scottish referendum, installing a sea border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and seems to have completely forgotten Gibraltan).
While the UK ended 2016 as the fastest growing G7 country, it began 2017 as the slowest growing (with lower GDP growth than any EU country). Early signs suggest this continues in the second quarter.
The EU by contrast is enjoying strong growth that looks set to continue too.
Twelve months after the UK voted to leave the EU, it is looking stronger, more unified, more confident and as beautiful as ever. I’m as proud as ever to be European.