Most of the recent comments we have gotten on our Dear Citizen website are about the European Union itself. About the direction it is going and what it means for ordinary citizens. Indeed, this is one of the most important issues Europe is facing: a question over Europe’s identity itself and just what it means to be European.
Raymond, for example, born in 1942, wrote to us to tell us of the painful experiences his family endured during the Second World War in Belgium, recounting how, first for his father and then for him, the post-war European project offered new life to a continent destroyed:
He was amazed by the fact that Germans and French talked together and became really excited by the fact of the creation of the European Economic Union. Until his death he was a convinced European just because it gave him hope for a new kind of Europe. And I followed and for me Europe was the Europe of peace and hope. . . [I] hope that new initiatives will make Europe stronger and more convinced about its future: a peaceful Europe with a home and a job for every citizen, offering good education and culture, a Europe of equality and brotherhood. Let us not forget the messages we received from statesman like Schumann, Monnet, Spaak and many other strong Europeans . . .
In another example, Riccardo, from Italy, focussed on the richness of a common European heritage:
European Union is something extraordinary the world has never seen before. Sharing resources, ideas and helping each other economically is the very best goal of our great continent. Our history gives us an enormous richness as well as the mutual respect for the peculiar traditions of each country. I feel hopeful about the future and I think that the more Europe remains united and shares skills, the best future will have EU citizens: brothers and members of a great family.
EPP President Joseph Daul emphasised these themes in his statement earlier this year to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties. He spoke of his own upbringing in Alsace, a region which France and Germany had fought over for decades, and of the peace and prosperity which the European project has since brought both to his region and beyond. And he made the very important point that the success of the European Union — the reconciliation, cooperation and integration which have allowed so many Europeans now to work and study and travel so easily all around the continent — have never been inevitable; rather, they are the result of many years of hard work and vision. This work, this vision, is ongoing of course. It is at the heart of the European project so essential to the legacy of the European People’s Party.
But the story of the EU is not only about rebuilding the continent after war. It remains a story of hope; and it goes on. It is about protecting citizens from the threats of terrorism and economic hardship, about preserving what is best of Europe’s traditions and cultures, about preparing for a future full of both challenges and opportunities — all in a world changing faster than at any other time in history.
This is why, for example, our 2017 EPP Malta Congress document is entitled "Europe secures our Future"; why we titled our Malta Congress resolution on trade "Traditional values in tomorrow's economy"; and why the European Commission, and Commission President Juncker, has lately focussed on metaphors like “Catching the wind in our sails“. These images all suggests an optimism born of hard-won experience and responsible leadership. An optimism which understands the enduring value of the heritage shared by European citizens, and which understands how to put on the table real-world solutions for real-world problems.
The EPP family continues to deliver on its promise to lead Europe responsibly, compassionately and creatively. Whether in fighting for stronger external borders and counterterrorism measures; in countering Islamic extremism; in calling for innovative new measures to improve farming while preserving both high-quality food and the environment in which it grows; in putting forward ideas for how to train and re-train European workers for the economy of tomorrow; in supporting Western Balkan and Eastern Partnership countries as they pursue their paths of Euro-Atlantic integration; or in spearheading the EU’s negotiations for a fair and timely Brexit: in all these areas and more, the EPP is delivering on Europe. We stand grounded in the stories of the past but look forward with seriousness and hope towards the future, as we continue working for a safer and more prosperous Europe.