Richard Jones and Ian Jones - no relation - of Herefordshire for Europe went to Hereford Sixth Form College on 12 May to talk to members of the College's debating society about the European Union. Richard opened by quoting President Zelensky at a joint press conference with Ursula von der Leyen in Kyiv on Tuesday, Europe Day: “Our efforts for a united Europe, for security and peace, need to be as strong as Russia’s desire to destroy our security, our freedom, our Europe”. Last week's New European had an article about protests in Georgia against the foreign agent draft law: "The protests were so extensive that the law was withdrawn, but the threat has not gone away. Georgia is meant to be on a path to EU integration, and that would involve moving towards a more open, western-oriented political culture. But that process faces powerful resistance." Both showed the political emphasis of the European project on peace and stability: Greece, Spain and Portugal weren't allowed to join the then EEC until they had replaced their military regimes with democratically elected governments in the 1970s.
Richard gave an account of the development of the EU, with reference to his own work on EU issues at various times in the FCO from 1978-2013. Ian added his own perspective as an economist during questions, which included the negative economic effect of Brexit; how to deal with anti-democratic tendencies in countries such as Hungary and Poland; and how the UK should position itself now.
It was a scramble to cover all of that in 50 minutes and we could have said much more. But it was a good opener and we are invited again. We also encouraged them to join YEM.