Today is the day to celebrate Europe. Sixty-three years ago the Schumann Declaration marked the beginning of European integration, which represented the beginning of a period of peace, freedom, democracy, prosperity and human rights in the countries part of the European Union.
Today, we celebrate stability and unity in Europe and we have the opportunity to look at what we have achieved. Countries that were enemies during the Second World War have become partners and allies. Confrontation has been replaced with cooperation; and national egoism has been replaced with more and more solidarity. Nowadays European citizens can study anywhere in the continent, can travel freely across Europe, can work freely on the whole continent, and the largest free trade area of the world has been created as we see the European Union’s GDP as the biggest in the world, which also represents a great sum of opportunities for business.
The European Union, after the great achievement of bringing peace to the continent among the Member States since the end of World War II, has well deserved to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Maintaining peace is a complex job that has been founded on the economic integration and political cooperation which make of Europe a unique model of supranational governance that has ensured peace during the last six decades, providing an overall good quality of life for its 495 million citizens.Despite the fact that nowadays the EU is facing serious challenges with the economic and financial crisis, we can still say that many people in Europe have a reasonably good quality of life. I would like to attribute this to the success of the continuous process of integration as well as to the innovation and the hard working Europeans whom, with their hearts and minds, have contributed to the Europe that we have today.
I like how the European Union strives to improve living standards of its citizens by protecting the environment, creating new job opportunities for youth, developing cross-border infrastructure or connecting former isolated areas as well as reducing disparities. Cooperation among the Member States in the field of health, such as creating the European Health Card, and in the domain of education, with the Erasmus exchange programme; all these have contributed to making a better Europe for all and eventually a better world.
Moreover, I think that having the same currency is an advantage among the 17 different countries of the Eurozone that facilitates daily life and trade without having to exchange currency (despite the fact that some people criticize it due to the financial and economic crisis, which by the way, I think will be solved when Europe will move forward with a true economic and fiscal union instead of simply a monetary union). The debate on which solutions should be implemented is on the table of discussions of the European Institutions and I invite you to comment on that for a constructive debate; in the meantime, we will keep accumulating years of peace in the, so called, old continent which actually is already a success.
I would like to end with a quote by Jean Monnet:
“Europe will be forged in crises, and it will be the sum of the solutions adopted for those crises”.