A Europe for all the people
Malta’s presidency of the Council of the European Union is an opportunity for us to reassert a common vision for Europe. It is a vision of equity, of unity and, most importantly, the inclusive participation of all people to build peace within and across our societies.
We must believe in the foundations of the European project. In the words of one of the founding architects of the EU, Jean Monnet, the underlying strength of our Union is that it has made us recognise the fact that we are connected by one common interest. One single purpose. One united vision of peace and prosperity.
To achieve this European vision, I believe the economic strengthening of our Union must be equalled by more attention to inclusive strategies that improve people’s daily lives. The growing gap between the Union and its people needs to be bridged.
Our vision must be one of respectful connection, reaching beyond the fears and doubts that constrain us. We must be brave.
Our vision must be outward looking, upward going and forward moving.
The European Union must combine its goals for continued economic growth with the need to safeguard everybody’s prosperity, both within and outside the labour force. We must strive to realise the potential of all people, including those who require additional support.
The societies of Europe are characterised by their diversity of circumstances, of heritage and of identity. At the same time, we are united in a common pursuit of opportunity. We must be united in a single understanding of the need for resilient and inclusive societies, afforded by effective systems of social protection and open labour markets.
We must take action to address what is being indicated by Eurostat’s statistics, that almost every fourth person in the EU lives at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
We must continue to prioritise the safeguarding of our nations and our Union by promoting democratic dialogue among different cultural groups, social sectors and communities of faith. We must resist division and demagoguery wherever they occur by keeping true to our convictions in one harmonious vision of peace for Europe and all Europeans.
This commitment to nurturing meaningful relationships between individuals and communities must be at the heart of our security and success. We must remember that the strength of our European Union lies in the spirit of solidarity, which we must all embrace.
I believe that now is a particular moment for us, as citizens of the EU, to stand shoulder to shoulder. Institutions must enhance their work by collaborating with civil society. Communities and authorities must come together to improve communication among the various stakeholders that are active throughout our societies.
You and I, as active citizens of the EU, have the opportunity to make a difference. We should take every chance to make our voices heard and to highlight the kind of Europe in which we want to live, the kind of world we want to develop and the legacy we want to pass down to our children.
Nobody has a better understanding of the changes that need to take place within society, to encourage equity, social justice and prosperity, than the people of Europe themselves. We must also include those who have direct experience of poverty, exclusion and discrimination.
We must all be active participants. We must create and sustain spaces, across the Union, where people who have been pushed to the margins of society are welcomed with respect, as valued collaborators.
The centre of our EU cannot be institutional, from which policies and protocols radiate in ever-widening but ever-less-connected circles of influence. Rather, the centre of our Union must be the individual, the family, the community, through whom and by whom the life of Europe is lived, in the fullness of dignity and freedom.
The challenges facing the EU will undoubtedly be a topic of conversation during Malta’s presidency. The revitalisation of the EU, through reassessment and reappraisal, should be part of a process of maturation. This is because we are a living Union, and, therefore, it should be natural for us to evolve, to grow and to change.
The life cycle of the EU is characterised by challenges as well as triumphs. There is no daybreak without a journey through darkness, and yet we must remain confident of the coming dawn.
There are challenges we must face, and some people will try to have us believe that things cannot, or will not, change. We must resist such attitudes of despair and complacency. Institutions can change. Structures can change. We too can change.
During Malta’s presidency of the EU we must do all that we can to ensure that we allow our truth, as a people of Malta, of the Mediterranean, of Europe, to shine. We must do all that we can to share the best of ourselves and our heritage of resilience, of solidarity and of peace.
Let Malta’s presidency of the Council be an opportunity to make a contribution, of lasting value, to our peace and prosperity and the peace and prosperity of our neighbours.
Let us work together to guide Europe on a path of peace. Let us strive to ensure sustainable and meaningful change, of lasting benefit in the lives of every individual and every family across our communities, our societies, our nations and throughout the EU.