The Future of Europe is now
In one week's time, more than 400 million Europeans are invited go to the polls to elect 705 members of parliament in an election that is probably the most decisive for the future of Europe since 1979, the first time we voted for a transnational parliament.
Prior to these elections, a major debate on the future of Europe had been planned: On 9 May, following Commission President Juncker's 2017 challenge, EU and national leaders gathered at a summit in Sibiu to mark the culmination of this process with a renewed commitment to an EU that delivers on the issues that really matter to people.
But how could the Summit have produced any more conclusive results? Much of this debate leading up to the summit was hijacked by eurosceptics and marred by growing destructive populism.
Even only a year ago, many would have not believed it possible that the shadow of Brexit would still loom over these decisive talks. But Brexit is only a manifestation of the populist poison spreading everywhere in Europe.
Under the mantle of patriotism, populists promise to defend the interests of the majority against immigrant minorities and "out-of-touch elites". This poison risks posing a serious health risk to our democracy, as populism attacks not merely real and imagined elites and the establishment but also the very fundamental idea of political pluralism.
Many politicians have been at a loss when it comes to countering populism. Increasingly, they have adopted a stance that some call destruction through imitation, meaning outflanking far-right competitors with tough talk on refugees and immigration in order to regain consensus.
Instead of presenting positive solutions to the huge economic, social and ecological transformations we are facing, we stagnate in populist rhetoric on closing borders and throwing out globalization.
Which in turn strengthens the accusations that Europe is in a deadlock and not delivering on the needs of its citizens.
Following the worthy discussions in Sibiu, we as citizens must now do our part to ensure the "future of Europe" by inciting people to go and vote for a democratic, open and diverse European Union. By choosing candidates which are ready to fight for a sustainable and fair Europe.
The Future of Europe depends on it.