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Thank you for granting the Aquí Europa-Vocento Award to the European Economic and Social Committee for its contribution to European integration. In the year in which the EESC celebrates its sixtieth anniversary, this award encourages us even more to continue our work of making the voices and interests of civil society heard in decision-making at European Union level.
On 25 November the EU Heads of State signed the Withdrawal Agreement after nearly two years of exhausting and complex negotiations. They agreed on a compromise based on a balance of rights and obligations, and close cooperation, that takes due account of the unique relation between the United Kingdom and the European Union after over 45 years of integration.
Taking office in April 2018, President Luca Jahier has launched an agenda for change based on three priorities: sustainable development, peace and culture. Articulating his workprogramme on those priorities, Jahier called for a new Renaissance, a vast and powerful humanistic movement that would allow the EU to bring to fruition the new transformative revolutions of the 21st century.
L'Europe est malade. Le pape François, il y a deux ans, nous a interpellés, nous les européens: "que vous est-il arrivé à vous, l'Europe de l'humanisme, la championne des droits de l'homme, de la démocratie et de la liberté?" Parce que le monde, mais aussi l'Europe, bascule dans le repli sur soi, les discours simples, sans nuances, qui divisent; le nationalisme se répand, les solidarités s'érodent; la raison, l'humanisme, et même la science et le progrès, sont remis en cause. Dans ce contexte, l'Europe, ses institutions, la société civile semblent être des remparts dérisoires.
The "LEONARDO: rEUnaissance today" project will be launched on 16 and 17 November in Rome. The project is a concrete expression of the slogan of the Presidency of Luca Jahier: "rEUnaissance" which is closely linked to one of the Presidency priorities: Culture. In a challenging time in European politics, and before the crucial European elections of May 2019, the EESC President looks to the Renaissance era for an inspiration for a positive narrative for the European Union of today.
Who would dispute that memory and commemoration are not part of the journey towards crafting stronger national identities? No historian, no anthropologist, no ethnographer would argue against that. However, as we prepare to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, there is a risk of limiting our commemoration to representing the past through lengthy speeches, exhibits in historical museums, and brief visits to historic sites.
The EESC has been and will continue to advocate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda at a European level and beyond, transitioning to a society that is sustainable in economic, social and environmental terms. It is essential that organised civil society is fully involved and mobilised in relation to a future EU Sustainable Development Strategy.
This week, I exchanged views with representatives of national parliaments and Members of the European Parliament on the future of Europe as we have a co-responsibility in carving the narrative on the European Union. I presented what the Committee has done on the future of Europe and our plans ahead of Sibiu and the EU elections. Drawing conclusions from the wealth of activities, it is clear that whatever the Future of Europe will be, it will have to be citizens-driven.
The future is today – it is becoming reality faster than we can track and predict it. Just as people get to grips with one new technology, another one comes along. Our workers find it hard to keep up with the latest developments in tech. For some this is exciting, but others feel frightened.
Today, the EESC has adopted, with an overwhelming majority (140 votes for, 3 votes against and 7 abstentions) its opinion on the Multiannual Financial Framework, proposed by the Commission on 2 May. With less than 8 months to go before the European elections, this file is a crucial one as it measures the scale of our ambition for the future of our European Union.
I salute President Jean-Claude Juncker for today's State of the Union in the European Parliament. At the start of a difficult period, culminating with Brexit and the European elections of 23-26 May, the European Commission President has shown that it is essential for pro-Europeans to speak out, loudly and strongly, shouting that Europe is worth fighting for. His speech was not a farewell, despite being his last State of the Union address, but a comprehensive programme for the year ahead. There is no time to waste.
Last week will remain engraved in our memories. TV channels around the world broadcast images of children separated from their parents at Texas borders and here in Europe the conflict over migrants and refugees has reached the highest possible level of confrontation. Have we lost our humanity? Have we forgotten our values?
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.
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.
In an inspiring speech, delivered on 18 April at the EESC plenary, which marked the end of the presidency of Georges Dassis and welcomed the new presidency of Mr Jahier, the new president set out the four priorities of his programme: sustainable development, promotion of peace, strengthening the role of culture and giving a voice to Europe’s young people.
Wystąpienia i oświadczenia