Published on 26th November 2014 by A Soul for Europe
The president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz gave the fifth State of Europe speech at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin on 9 November 2014 in front of 500 invited guests. At the center of this year’s speech have been challenges Europe is facing in regard to its borders and how those may influence the understanding of European values.
Farid Tabarki, member of the A Soul for Europe strategy group, introduced the speech by indicating the relationship of borders and European values. Farid Tabarki concluded that “now that Europe and its neighbors are again, just like 25 years ago, facing a moment of fundamental change it’s crucial that we keep on investing in our values, democracy and citizenship. Not only because it’s the only way to keep the greatest peace project on this planet called the European Union floating. But also because our friends from the east and the south have recently stood up for exactly these values”.
After this introduction, Martin Schulz started his speech by referring to the events of the 9 November 1989 and how civil rights campaigner back then fought for the freedom of movement we have today. Martin Schulz pointed out the importance of not reacting to Europe's challenges by building new inner and outer walls and in this way put our freedom of movement at stake. Moreover he made clear that drawing new borders would imply disregarding important European values such as human rights. He further, declared that it is a shame for Europe to let thousands of people die in front of its borders. Even though he respected challenges, fears and tasks communities across Europe share in regard to those seeking for protection and help in Europe, he exhorted that Europe needs new rules to reach out for refugees. In this regard, Schulze reminded the audience how important it is, that all 28 Member States work together in order to help those who need protection. In his opinion more financial and administrative help is needed to support Member States at the external borders. Otherwise, Schulze fears, populist parties may gain a greater popularity. He stressed the importance of freedom as a great European heritage. Even though there are numerous problems Martin Schulz concluded that solutions cannot be found in drawing new borders within Europe and shutting down external borders.
Benedict Schofield, also member of the A Soul for Europe strategy group, closed the event by acknowledging the cultural and civic engagement of the initiative A Soul for Europe for rising European awareness. He linked his words to Martin Schulz’ speech by emphasizing “I am deeply encouraged to hear that these are still the values that guide Europe, and that Europe will, with the continued support of culture and civil society – and initiatives like “A Soul for Europe” – be able to speak to, and inspire, a younger generation” .
Another highlight was the musical performance of the European Youth Orchestra (EUYO) with the support of the Federal Government Commissioner of Culture and Media Affairs. Since 1976, the EUYO is acting as cultural ambassador of the European Union representing its own interpretation of European heritage.
You can listen to Martin Schulz speech in German and to the performance of the European Youth Orchestra here.
The “State of Europe” is a regular annual statement on the idea and current state of Europe by its most senior representatives. It is given at a place closely tied up with Europe’s destiny – in Berlin, where 25 years before the fall of the Wall on 9 November 1989 paved the way for a great, no longer divided Europe.
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