Written by Maria Cristina Coccoluto
Traduced by Raiyan AZMI – Italian course B1 – College of Europe
Bruges, 10 October 2018. «I am proud to be Italian because I am European». The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, opens his speech with this message at the commencement of the academic year at the College of Europe, at its campus in Bruges. Introduced by Angela O’Neil, head of the Language Service, the ceremony saw warm welcomes from the president of the administrative council of the College, Íñigo Mendez de Vigo, and from the principal Jorg Monar, who presented the Patron of Promotion 2018-2019, the Spaniard Manuel Marin.
«In the College you will learn how the gears of the Institutions that represent 500 million citizens work; how it was possible to create the most powerful single market in the world; how the euro prevented the failure of the welfare state; how we managed to reach the first global climate agreement. Above all, you will learn that the Union is a project of the future. And that it needs a strategic agenda». The President addresses the students first in French, then in English, in Spanish and finally in his mother tongue. But even the students of the basic Italian course follow him without the headphones of the interpretation: his tone is warm and decisive, his language clear and direct.
«But do not forget the main thing: when you become a European official, you will be at the service of the citizens».
The challenges of the coming years for the Union are many:
to make the project more resistant to the threat posed by democracy;
to guarantee prosperity and security, with it clear that this means defending our culture and the system of values that we share;
a modern single market, able to exploit the technological, energetic and digital
revolution that is transforming the planet;
a European budget which is up to the challenges, which counts on own resources;
more transparent economic governance based on productive investment and the fight against unemployment, which supports the economic and social convergence of the poorest and most disadvantaged regions;
the threat of terrorism, which requires us to better coordinate security forces and intelligence activities;
responsibilities at the global level.
Tajani has no doubts: «The first reform to be done is the return to a politics that has the courage to decide and make choices. Discontent in Europe is growing because the Union has not given our citizens the answers they were waiting for. We must change and return to a political Europe, where the bureaucracy has its natural role as an administrative machine that carries out the directions of those elected by the people».
Not only that: it is also necessary to give the European Parliament the power of legislative initiative. «It is no longer acceptable that the only representatives elected by citizens cannot submit a bill. This reinforces the mistaken impression that in Europe a few people without democratic legitimacy make decisions for everyone».
«The European elections in May offer a unique opportunity to indicate a new route. Let’s take it!», urges the President. And to the 468 students of Promotion Marin, who interrupt him several times with applause, he gave encouragement, «from a father of children of your age»:
«Courage comes not only from the head, from knowledge, but above all from the heart. If each of us believes in European values and principles, we can overcome obstacles that seem impossible. Nobody, if you are on the right side, can make you retreat».
«The common thread of our Europe is the freedom for which great women and men have given their lives. Today, fortunately, you are not called to defend it with yours, but it remains a value to be protected with commitment and dedication. If each of us firmly believes in the founding values of Europe, he will allow himself and those close to him to be free».
«Embrace the changes!»
«Find strength in your heart!».