"The European project, which was born after the Second World War to reconcile people and transform the historical rivalries between the countries of Europe in an ever closer union, is now being challenged. Never before has the European idea been so threatened. The integration process has never seemed so reversible. Europe has never seemed so distant from the concerns of its citizens." These were the words of Georges Dassis, President of the European Economic and Social Committee, speaking at the round table held in Strasbourg on 23 June as part of the celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the League of Education.
Founded in 1866 by Jean Mace, the League of Education comprises 30 000 member associations in France and is the country's largest and most popular education movement. The League brings together men and women who work day in, day out to support citizenship by promoting access for all to education, culture, leisure and sport. Taking part in the round table alongside Georges Dassis were Conny Reuter, Secretary-General of Solidar, and Jean-Marie Cavada, Member of the European Parliament and President of the Mouvement Européen. Other speakers included Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, and the French president, François Hollande.
The EESC President spoke of the major challenges that Europe's citizens are facing today: economic uncertainty, financial crisis, unemployment, the migration and refugee crises and the threat of terrorism. He insisted now is the time to act, rethink and relaunch the European project to bring Europe closer to its citizens and stand united against the current challenges.
President Dassis concluded by stating: "Our common challenge is to reconnect with Europe's citizens, to recreate an influential Europe as bearer of a project for the future that will bring hope for everyone."