Today is Europe Day where we can celebrate the fact that our once divided continent has enjoyed the longest period of peace it has ever known under the banner of the European Union. And, this Friday the Cardiff Blues will be taking on Gloucester in the final of the European Challenge Cup in Bilbao, Spain. As a fan and a member of the CF10 Supporters Trust I’m looking forward to cheering on the Blues from our fanzone in the Arms Park as they try and win their second European trophy in a decade.
Away from sport as thousands of Blues fans make their way to the north of Spain for that final, they’ll enjoy lots of benefits from that European Union co-operation I mentioned earlier. The flights will be cheaper, as the Shared European Sky has ironed out competing national regulations making it safer and easier to operate flights between European cities. Fans won’t need to fill out any visa forms and once they enter the Schengen zone they’ll only need to get their passport checked once. If anything goes wrong with their hotel or their flights they’ll have their consumer rights guaranteed by a Europe-wide body of law.
Today on Europe Day we should salute these achievements, they don’t have the grand swashbuckling narrative of “global Britain” or declaring that we’ll go it alone. But, they show that by working together we can make things a little better, make everyone’s life a bit easier and improve our world. It’s wonderful to see that the European Union will now be offering a free month of inter-railing to EU citizens when they’re 18 and it emphasises to me why it’s so important that we work as closely as possible with the European Union (if we leave) to preserve the little wins as well as the big ones.
So on Friday night, as Cardiff Blues make their tilt at the trophy I will reflect on an already great 2018 for sport in Cardiff. I have to admit, I shed a few tears after the final whistle at the City stadium on Sunday when we secured promotion to the Premier League. There was a really positive feeling and a real solidarity between the fans, players, staff and directors all partying in the May sunshine celebrating an incredible feat that nobody at the start of the season thought Cardiff could pull off.
I’ve tabled a parliamentary motion saluting that achievement which you can read here. City are not the only Cardiff team exceeding expectations though. The Cardiff Devils have won Ice Hockey’s Elite League for the first time in the League’s history this season, going one better than their final day defeat last year. So, here’s hoping that Cardiff Blues can match that success with their second European title on Friday.
I also spoke in Parliament this week, praising the achievement of our Cardiff sports teams.
You can watch the question here: