On 14 March, Georges Dassis gave his opening speech at the conference "From Messina to Rome: project, method and agenda for an ever closer union". The conference was part of the SMILE project (Sharing Messina Ideal a Lesson for Europe). It was organised in cooperation with the European Movement in Italy and was held at the European Economic and Social Committee.. This project is part of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome and its aim is to promote this historic moment and turn it into an opportunity for debate, with the participation of citizens from EU Member States, about the relaunch of European integration based on the original values.
During his speech, the EESC President spoke in particular in support of the European integration process, highlighting the importance of the Messina Conference back in 1955. But he also expressed his concern regarding the risks this process is facing nowadays, by referring to the Schengen Agreement and the fact that some Member States have questioned its necessity. Finally, Mr Dassis stated that is vital to inform young people about European Integration and explain to them that the benefits and achievements of the European Union, such as free movement and the Erasmus programme, did not happen by chance.