Europe Day: "Europe is our common future"
SAN FRANCISCO - By Pierre Franck (Consul General of Luxembourg), Philip Grant (Consul General of Ireland), Søren Juul Jørgensen (CEO of Innovation Centre Denmark Silicon Valley), Gerbert Kunst (Consul General of the Netherlands), Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens (Consul General of France), Nuno Mathias (Consul General of Portugal), Diego Muñiz Lovelace (Consul General of Spain), Lorenzo Ortona (Consul General of Italy), Barbro Osher (Consul General of Sweden), Stefan Schlüter (Consul General of Germany) and Dimitris Xenitellis (Consul General of Greece).
Today, May 9, is Europe Day – the day that marks the anniversary of the 1950 Schuman Declaration. In his address, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs laid out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, based on concrete measures to foster solidarity. The goal was to make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable. By sharing their sovereignty, the nations of Europe ushered in the longest period of peace in their history and set themselves up to have real influence in the world.
Europe has been on the front page many times in recent years. Its difficulties tend to overshadow its successes. On this day of celebration, we would like to point out Europe’s contributions to three values that are close to the hearts of Californians: the environment, inclusiveness, and solidarity.
The EU has some of the world’s highest environmental standards. We consider that the current changes in our climate are magnifying the potential for instability in all forms. We cannot tell future generations that we did not know about the situation. We are aware of the threats, we are aware of the risks, and we can prevent them. The EU shares with California the same ambitious target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. As a global actor, Europe also plays a key role in international efforts to promote sustainable development globally. The European Union is the only non-state entity that ratified the first-ever legally binding global climate deal: the Paris Agreement. The EU and its Member States are also the biggest contributors of public climate financing to developing countries, accounting for one-third of global efforts.
The EU is the largest market and greatest commercial power on the planet. It is one of the largest areas of freedom, with the free circulation of people, goods, services and capital. Our economy benefited from the transformation of national markets into a single market of 500 million consumers where regulatory barriers that once limited business horizons were brought down. At the same time, it is the region in which wealth is the most shared. Huge transfers take place to allow less developed parts of Europe to catch up. EU regional policy accounts for the single largest chunk of the EU budget and is therefore the Union’s main investment arm.
The EU also shows the same solidarity toward the rest of the world. Development assistance has been part of the European integration process from the beginning. The EU is the world’s largest aid donor, with contributions representing more than half of overseas development assistance. We believe the world has the technology and the resources to eradicate extreme poverty in our lifetime, and that by doing so, we are eliminating the roots of many future conflicts fueled by the competition for resources.
Throughout its history and in the 60 years since the Treaties of Rome were signed, the EU has made each one of its members stronger, while always acting for the common good in its contribution to progress on political, social, and environmental norms. On March 25, European leaders again met in Rome and reiterated their full commitment to the European project, pledging to work for a safe and secure Europe, a prosperous and sustainable Europe, a socially responsible Europe, and a stronger Europe on the global scene. There are so many reasons to look back with pride and look forward with hope.
Europe is our common future.