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Europe Day 2019 - Statement by President Michael D. Higgins

Date: Wed 8th May, 2019 | 21:00

Marking Europe Day on May 9th in 2019 takes on a special significance in the atmosphere of European elections in which, by participating in discussions on current policies, and through their votes, European citizens can engage in a new and necessary debate on the future of the European Union – the achievement of a European Union to which they and their countries would wish to belong.

On Europe Day, we are invited annually, not only to celebrate the EU’s achievements and note the unfinished tasks of European cooperation, but we are also called upon to renew the vision of a Europe inspired by imagination and hope, and based on practical solidarity. 

We are reminded, too, of the hopes and strength of vision held by those who had the courage to propose a new future for Europe. From the ashes of a war-torn continent came those who sought to make war an impossibility, in an ever closer union that values peace and is willing to share possibilities.

Our European Union today faces new, serious challenges and we must seize the opportunities that exist – including the European elections – to debate with energy, and with respect, the future shape of the European Union. 

In the shadow of Brexit and of some negative social forces which seek to exploit real concerns, much uncertainty has been created across Europe. We Europeans are now invited in this election year to define, through deliberation and a values-driven debate, the forms of Union and the outlines of the European Union that we seek. 

The future of the European Union needs this vibrant political debate as to the best path forward – a debate which is creative, courageous, cohesive and above all inclusive. 

In particular, the voices of young people, and of all those who feel marginalised or excluded, must be heard. Europe can use its potential to address the major challenges of our world, including achieving sustainability, making a real and urgent commitment to addressing the issues of climate change and global poverty.

Today, as they are deciding on how to vote, I call on all Europeans to engage actively in respectful debate in the pursuit of the great idea of a peaceful, integrated and inclusive Europe; one that will seek to be an exemplary region in the world, for other regions to follow. 

On Europe Day 2019, let us resolve to rediscover, deepen, re-define and build on the founding values of the European Union. Let us use our voices and our votes to reconnect the Union to the hopes of millions of Europeans.