I have just come back from a trip to Moldavia. It is there, on the periphery of Europe, that you suddenly understand what Europe is about. The most important thing is the rule of law. Not money, power, the media, but the rule of law. That something that can only exist in a democracy – and you can only have a democracy if you have the rule of law. They are essential to the functioning of the economy, too.
The prime minister of Moldavia speaks six languages and is totally pro-European. But his country is bitterly poor. The average wage is EUR 300 a month, but there are many pensioners who have to live on as little as EUR 35 a month. Moldavians look at Europe with wide open eyes of hope.
It is in those moments that you understand the extraordinary radiance of Europe. Europe is a beacon of freedom, rule of law and solidarity. This was perfectly expressed in the declaration adopted for the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome : “We, the citizens of the European Union, have united for the better.”