Your Royal Highnesses
Honourable Prime Minister
Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me begin by thanking you for giving me the opportunity and the privilege of addressing you during the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Treaty Rome here in Brussels. A city which is the symbol of European integration, the 'capital of Europe'. A city that receives European institutions in such a warm way and which has become the home to hundreds of thousands of Europeans. I am sure I speak for many Europeans when I say that we feel truly at home in Brussels.
Let me tell you today, when we celebrate 50 years of the great experience of European integration, that we should be very proud of our past achievements. We have built a permanent peace in Europe, based on reconciliation among former enemies. This is a historical example for the world. It is indeed an immense privilege to fully trust our neighbours, to face together our common problems and to share our successes. We have also achieved a peaceful reunification of Europe: a remarkable achievement which only twenty years ago seemed impossible. The European Union has helped to promote democracy, political freedom and human rights throughout Europe. We have also helped European citizens to live in prosperous and socially just societies. During the last fifty years, economic solidarity and social justice have proved themselves to be fundamentally European principles – part of what makes Europe special. This is what leads me to say that Europe means freedom and solidarity. Without any doubt, our Union has been a force for good in our continent.
Building on our great past, we must reaffirm that the Union is the best answer to 21st challenges such as globalization, sustainable economic growth and competitiveness, political solidarity, energy supply, climate change, and security. We need to prepare European societies to successfully face the economic and social challenges of globalization. We need to protect the climate in order to have a sustainable development, and to offer Europeans a good and safe quality of life. In the face of new threats, we need to guarantee the security of Europeans, an indispensable condition for the full fruition of our liberty and rights. In sum, we must address the concerns and provide results to European citizens.
However, we should not separate the successes of the past from the challenges of the future. We are in good shape to deal with globalization, to boost economic growth, to create more and better jobs, to offer political solidarity, to ensure sustainable development, to address threats to our security, because we live in peace with each other, because we are legitimate democracies, because we live in prosperous and just societies, and because we decide and act together. It is our common past that gives us strength to face our common challenges. But let me very frank here: to preserve our achievements we need to succeed in the future. In Europe, 2007 is the year when the past and the future meet. This gives us, European politicians, a major responsibility: to invest political capital to build a better Europe. This is the kind of historical test that a generation of political leaders face once in their lifetime. If we succeed, Europe shall have a great future.
Before I finish, dear audience, allow me on the behalf of the European Commission, and I think also interpreting the sentiments of other European institutions, to thank Belgium for your friendship towards Europe. As a founding member, you have been since the very beginning a great supporter of European integration and a committed partner. You are an example for Europe. An example of a country that pursues, to use the memorable title of Paul-Henri Spaak's Memories, our "combats inachevés" with strong enthusiasm and convictions.
VIVE L'EUROPE, LEVE EUROPA