FIONA H. JOYCE
Amid all the chattering, and screaming, and the Remain and Leave camps, I couldn't help but shed a tear when I came across my old European Law books, lying dusty and forgotten at the bottom of my bookshelf.
It was around 1993 or 4, and I was studying for my law degree at the University of Sussex. We were all full of hope, optimism and excitement. For ourselves and the future, and not least for our world, which was at that time thought to be Europe.
I remember carrying in my ruck-sack, back-breaking, heavy books all about EEC Law (EEC, who remembers that quaint term now?) and then EC Law.
I also remember sitting in a lecture theatre and a seminar room with a keen young French lawyer, who told us all about this wonderful concept and how it would shape our future - our lives, how we lived, where we lived, where we worked. About how it would open up a world for us that would be a mere hop, skip and a jump away.
No borders, no passports, no barriers.
Just free movement. Of everything.
And that lecture theatre, full of young, idealistic, hopeful, undergraduate lawyers, all sitting there, in rapt attention, eager to devour every last snippet of the new laws that would herald the brave new European world. Eager to get going and live in that new world.
And how we all sat in seminars afterwards, debating, agreeing, disagreeing, thrashing it all out, from all corners of Europe, and some further afield.
And then in the pub afterwards, still discussing, still in awe of the changes, but still excited.
Debating and discussing but never, not for a moment, doubting that it would change everything for the better.
And then it happened. The EEC became the EC, and then the EU, and then we were just Europe.
And now, 23 years later - we are here. And it's all gone, or going. Just like that.
And I look back at these law books and I turn to one page that I had highlighted (it was something I never usually did in books and so it stands out now) - ironic really, the one Article that I chose to highlight all those years ago....
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