Today is the last and decisive day of the European elections. Citizens of 21 EU countries now have it in their hands how the EU will move forward in the future. The Dutch and the British – unless they were denied access to the ballot boxes – already voted on Thursday; Ireland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Malta and Latvia on Friday and Saturday. According to recent polls, right-wing populist and nationalist parties are showing signs of growth across Europe in the elections to the European Parliament. First projections for all 28 countries are expected tonight. Hence a final appeal: Go vote, vote for a free, democratic, competitive Europe! This can only be achieved by working together, not by relapsing into a nation-state past.
This also emphasised EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger when he delivered the laudatory speech on United Europe on Friday evening at the presentation of the SignsAwards at the Ritz Carlton in Berlin. United Europe was awarded in the category “Integration in Communication” for its “impressive commitment to European cohesion“.
Oettinger said that if United Europe did not already exist, it would have to be founded today. And he is grateful that United Europe recommends the united European team by name. Because: “We are 28 dwarves. Dwarves are set up in the front garden and the dogs pee on them. But together in a team we can tame giants.” Only the federation can remain sovereign, world-political and competitive. “Internally solidary”, says Oettinger, “and sufficient strength on the outside to be taken seriously in peacekeeping and the defence of human rights”. He stressed the particular role how United Europe is involved in this, for example through seminars for young Europeans. “Even if the UK should not be in the Union for a few years”, Oettinger ended his speech, “Britons can still be good on the board and as partners of United Europe in the future”. Their participation is a strong sign “that the Kingdom can become a member of a united European continent again for at least within a decade”.
Margaret Jay, Baroness Jay of Paddington, who accepted the prize on behalf of United Europe, also stressed the importance of a united Europe. Baroness Jay is a member of the Labour Party, a member of the House of Lord, a former Lord Privy Seal Keeper, Minister of Women’s Affairs and leader of the House of Lords, and a founding and board member of United Europe.
She began her speech with the ironic circumstance that on the day when the British Prime Minister has resigned because she could not deliver Brexit, a member of the House of Lords accepts this award for United Europe and a united Europe. Jay stressed that there are many people in the UK who are prepared to continue the work for a united Europe and fight for the common values of the EU. Baroness Jay is the daughter of former British Prime Minister James Callaghan (1976 – 1979), who was also a Labour Party member. Prior to his appointment as Prime Minister, he had been elected Foreign Minister under Harold Wilson in 1974 and was mainly involved in renegotiating the terms of Britain’s membership of the European Community (later the European Union). These conditions, and Britain’s retention in the EC, were adopted on 5 June 1975 in the first nationwide referendum in the country’s history.
Their grandchildren, Baroness Jay says, would fully understand the European idea and want to continue to be part of the wider European community. Therefore, she emphasizes, the Young Professionals Seminars, which United Europe organises several times a year in addition to CEO roundtables, lectures, panel discussions and intensive information meetings in small groups, are for her one of the most inspiring formats of United Europe.
“To listen to a coming generation of young leaders and to hear their collective vision of Europe and the way problems can be solved in the future is to give credence to the possible success of a new generation”, Jay said. “That is one of the most significant and encouraging pieces of work which UE is done.”
Subsequently, Düzen Tekkal, publicist, filmmaker, woman of Europe 2018 and member of United Europe, gave a blazing speech on “Europe as a place of longing“. This plea, entitled “More Courage”, is also included in the book “Europe’s Future. 40 Visions for the World of Tomorrow”, which was published by the Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen on the occasion of the Future Day. You can read the entire text here.
We are very pleased for receiving this award and thank the jury as well as all members, sponsors and partners of United Europe for their support!
Go vote! #Vote4Europe