Cillian Lohan: The Robert Schuman declaration re-read

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This month, we celebrate Europe Day to mark the anniversary of the historic Schuman declaration of 9 May 1950, widely regarded as the first real step towards European integration.

The declaration was driven by the vision of a common project and a desire to promote peace and a united Europe. It outlined the fundamental values that continue to be part of our shared heritage to this day.

I would normally take this day as an opportunity for reflection on what peace, cooperation and solidarity have accomplished and what they can achieve in the future.

This year, however, 9 May is primarily a day of unity and solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

The brutality of the war reminds me how relevant the founding narrative of the European Union still is. Solidarity, responsibility, unity, and generosity are the building blocks of our Union. The European project had been inspired from the beginning by the determination to make war on the European continent "not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible" as famously proclaimed in Robert Schuman's speech.

In February, the Russian aggression against Ukraine has brought the war to the borders of the European Union once again. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, peace and unity are now at stake in Europe. In this context, the importance of working for peace in our continent is all the more evident. In fact, the future of our union is currently being decided through our condemnation and strong response to this war.

Our common European values have been translated into rapid and concrete actions in order to address the humanitarian crisis produced by the war. In recent weeks, we have all witnessed the impressive display of solidarity and generosity shown by the European civil society in assisting the Ukrainian refugees in every possible way.

The EESC has dedicated a special webpage dedicated to Ukraine, will provide more information on the work and initiatives being carried out by our members and their organisations.

These examples of altruistic mobilization, in my opinion, fully embody those ideals and hopes outlined in the Schuman Declaration on May 9 1950.

Cillian Lohan, EESC Vice-President for communication