Celebrating Europe Day And What It Stands For
SCHUMAN DECLARATION: UNITE AND RENDER WAR IN CONTINENT UNTHINKABLE ‘Sixty-six years later, Robert Schuman’s message of peace and unity is as relevant as ever’
Today is May 9 and the European Union is celebrating Europe Day worldwide. On this day in 1950 French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, one of the founding fathers of the EU, made the famous ‘Schuman Declaration’, in which he called on the nations of Europe to unite and render war on our continent unthinkable. Robert Schuman’s appeal to overcome age-old divisions just five years after the World War II laid the foundations of what has become the European Union.
Sixty-six years later, Robert Schuman’s message of peace and unity is as relevant as ever.
For the first time in our history, the European Union faces an existential threat. This is not simply about terrorism: we have the tools to defeat the terrorist threat and prevent radicalisation.
This is certainly not about migration: a Union of 500 million people can manage the current flows, protect lives and build strong partnerships with other countries, in our region and beyond. The European Union is at risk when we build walls, instead of tearing them down. It is at risk when we behave as parttime Europeans – we call for help when we need it, but we are not ready to help. In this tough moment in the history of the world, the world needs a strong Europe more than ever. We have a responsibility to our own citizens, and also to the Pacific. Indeed, the European Union has a long-standing relationship and friendship with Fiji and other Pacific countries which we cherish. Since Europe Day last year, the partnership between Fiji and the European Union has further strengthened. European Commissioner for Development and International Cooperation Neven Mimica visited Fiji and signed an agreement with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama on a major new development co-operation programme.
The first high-level Fiji-EU political dialogue for many years took place in Suva, and Fiji hosted a very successful assembly involving parliamentarians from the European Union and a large number of countries in African, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. In addition the European Union opened a large new office in Suva, from which it manages development co-operation projects all over the Pacific. Our partnership with Fiji and the Pacific is based on our shared values, on common concerns and on common aspirations. In the Pacific we are an important trading partner, a reliable investor, a generous donor of humanitarian and development aid, and a loyal ally in a fight against climate change. The European Union reacted quickly to the needs of Fijian people following the devastation of Cyclone Winston, and will continue to provide considerable support for recovery. I offer again our deepest sympathy to those who lost loved ones and whose lives and livelihoods were shattered. Three weeks ago, 175 countries signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the UN High-Level Signing Ceremony in New York.
15 countries deposited their instruments of ratification on the same day sending a signal to the international community on the paramount importance of this Agreement.
Remarkably, six out of these 15 inspiring countries were Pacific Island States, including Fiji. The Pacific has done its share, now it is for the developed countries to deliver.
A key objective of the EU for 2016 is to maintain this political momentum and alliance with the Pacific nations as we start moving towards the implementation of the Paris deal.
Despite the voices calling for the closure of the European borders as an answer to waves of refugees and migrants, we continue to open our doors to the Pacific nations. Recently the EU signed short-stay visa waiver Agreements with Samoa, Tonga and Palau allowing their nationals to visit Schengen Area visa free. Several other Pacific island States will join this group later this year. On Europe Day we celebrate not only Europe and all the achievements we must preserve, but also our strong partnerships around the world, including with our friends in the Pacific. The people of the European Union and the Pacific share challenges, ideals and ambitions. Working together we can help make the world a better place for our children. Happy Europe Day.
Our partnership with Fiji and the Pacific is based on our shared values, on common concerns and on common aspirations.
European Union ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific
One of the founding members of the the European Union, French Foreign Minister then, Robert Schuman.