The responses to the multiple crises that the European Union has been confronted with have increasingly led European citizens to become disenchanted not only with the European Union itself but also with democratic institutions in general – both at the European and national level. There is a serious risk of EU citizens no longer seeing the added value of the EU for their living and working conditions as well as for their future perspectives and those of their children and for losing a common sense of belonging.
Speeches & Statements
Anniversaries are a time for celebration. For togetherness and joy. A moment to pause, to look back and take stock of achievements which will drive our future. We are here to dare the future of Europe.
The subject of Culture is close to my heart– it is one of the four priorities of my presidency alongside peace, sustainable development and youth. These are the pillars of the new European Renaissance we must urgently strive for. Culture is not only a driver of economic growth and social cohesion, it has been one of the drivers of European identity for many centuries.
The EESC is hosting today its first high-level conference to discuss the proposal for the next “Multiannual Financial Framework” (MFF), covering the period 2021-2027, on the basis of the European Commission's proposal of 2 May. We are only at the beginning of a process, with the ball now being with the Council and the European Parliament that will, hopefully, in early 2019, adopt an MFF that will allow the EU to move forward. The EESC will thoroughly analyse the Commission´s proposals and will draw up an opinion on this important package by September.
The European Union and the Western Balkans have a shared interest in working more closely together to guarantee all our citizens economic and social development, as well as security. The future of the region is a European future. The EU and the Western Balkans economies have benefited from closer integration as trade doubled in the last 10 years. The EU is today the first trading partner of the region, the biggest investor and the most credible and reliable political and geostrategic partner.
As we celebrate Europe today, we should remember the promise of peace and unity that our founding fathers made to future generations. But in some corners of the Union, these generations are today questioning the value of the European project. There is no other alternative than a Union that is strong, fair and cohesive.
There are too many people who feel that their opinions are not taken on board. If this feeling persists or even grows, our democratic system will risk collapsing, and so will our project of peace, prosperity, growth and cohesion in which I believe from the very bottom of my heart. We must get to work now, have a fresh start and be prepared to re-energise change for what I call 'rEUnaissance' – a new renaissance for the European Union.
In the EU as well as in neighbouring countries, representative democracy is experiencing a crisis of legitimacy. One manner of addressing this challenge which puts at risk our democratic societies is to promote participation. Involvement in local democratic processes builds trust, generates an understanding of the complexity of democratic processes and empowers citizens.
I welcome today's proposal on the Multi-Annual Financial Framework and the Commission's significant effort to come up with an EU budget fit for the future. The proposal contains many constructive elements for a Europe that protects, empowers and defends, yet, on one crucial point, I would have preferred a more daring and ambitious plan. I remain convinced that the current ceiling for EU expenditure has to be increased to 1.3% of GNI to face the growing EU agenda.