Today's event, in the presence of the Italian president Sergio Mattarella and Minister for Foreign Affairs Enzo Moavero Milanesi, gives us, representatives of European civil society, a unique opportunity to clearly set out our vision of the European project.
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Less than two weeks ago, the citizens of Europe expressed their democratic right and voted in the European elections. For the first time in the EU elections' history, the turnout was higher than in the previous round and higher than in any European election since 1994. Clearly, the legitimate concerns over climate change and environment were on top of the agenda of voters in many European countries and also in all the four main political forces.
Recent events are showing us that we must not let down our guard and believe that the 60 years of peace in Europe are to be taken for granted. Our Fundamental Rights, which are enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union are not to be taken for granted. It is inadmissible that last year saw the largest number of anti-semitic acts in decades, leading to an increasing sense of emergency among Jewish communities worldwide.
The process of making decisions on the future of Europe will be clarified during the informal summit of heads of state and government in Sibiu on 9 May. In the run up to this summit and the upcoming European Parliament elections, on 20 March 2019 the Committee adopted an exhaustive opinion entitled Listening to the citizens of Europe for a sustainable future, which sets out the EESC’s vision for the future of Europe from the point of view of European civil society.
Culture is a powerful tool to build bridges between people and reinforce mutual understanding. Artistic freedom, enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU as well as the Treaty of the EU, is essential for development of our open democracies and our European values and identity. I, therefore, welcome the Council conclusions on an EU strategic approach to international cultural relations and a framework for action of 8 April.
Today, once again, we stand together in solidarity to remember the innocent victims and their families, who were struck by the devastating terrorist attacks in Brussels three years ago. It is with great sadness and grievance that we prepare to mark the anniversary of this barbarous attack.
Today, on the European Day of Remembrance for the victims of terrorism, we stand together in solidarity. It is with great emotion and compassion for the victims and their families of terrorist attacks that I write those lines. We remember all those who have lost their lives and those who have lost their loved ones in a terrorist attack. The EESC firmly supports the fight against crime and terrorism and emphasises that progress in fighting terrorism and crime in the EU must be consolidated. There must be effective cooperation and coordination between Member States with regard to law enforcement, intelligence and judicial matters.
On the occasion of Women's Day, a beautiful date to celebrate as it marks the victories of long battles fought by the generations of women who came before us, we should renew the commitment to walk the walk on gender equality.
The creation and emergence of Industry4Europe in the European political arena shows the strong capacity we have when we need to deliver. You have done it well! I refer to your extremely concrete joint call to the candidates for the 2019 European elections. In it, you are rightly calling the future Parliament and the future European Commission to put industry at the top of the European political agenda. The manufacturing sector weighs for more than 20% of the European GDP and it is an essential driver of employment.