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EP President Speech at the Opening of the House of European History


European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, delivered the opening speech at the Opening of the House of European History this afternoon in Brussels in the presence of former European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering and the Chairman of the Academic Committee Prof. Włodzimierz Borodziej and other distinguished guests.

The President’s speech (check against delivery):

“ Ladies and Gentleman,

It is a huge pleasure to be here today in this house of European History.

A pleasure to be amongst many friends and a pleasure to see the work and efforts that has been put into this project, now finally achieved.

This house is a reflection of our common history, with its bad times and good times.

It reflects the tragedy of war and the injustice of the separation between our nations and peoples, but also the promise of European peace of the founding fathers and our common toil to reunite the continent. 

Every single object that has been gathered in this projects is a piece of our history. 

A mark in our collective memory. A symbol of the compromise of many Europeans before us, in their daily lives, have contributed to create the most ambitious and successful project of European history. 

These artefacts and their stories also allow us to reflect on who we are today.

This is indeed not only the House of European History, it is also the Home of European Identity.

Some say there is no clear European identity.

I say our common identity lies in our shared values.

Our unity for human rights and against the death penalty.

Our defence of democracy and the rule of law.

Our promotion of freedom and solidarity.

This identity was forged through our shared history.

There were times where we had freedom in Brussels and Paris and oppression in Budapest and Prague.

In those times we worked to extend our freedom to the east. Our shared values finally allowed us to defeat oppression and reunite under one European Union.

Europe’s history points the way forward to a shared future for us all.

Our civilisation has been built on a constant interchange of ideas and opinions, a blending of schools of thought, of artistic traditions and scientific knowledge.

Our Renaissance drew on that ancient knowledge of the abbeys to create a European cultural area in which artists and scientists could learn and draw inspiration from each other.

Caravaggio and Rembrandt, Liszt, Shakespeare, Enescu and Mickiewicz all experienced a border-free Europe long before our own Union came into being.

Today, Europe can once again be seen as a continent of opportunity.

It is a Europe for students, for workers, for entrepreneurs, for artists, for researchers, for tourists, for consumers.

There are opportunities for everyone.

Colleagues and friends, I should like to commend the commitment displayed by my predecessor, Hans‑Gert Pöttering, in bringing this very worthwhile project to fruition.

I should also like to express my appreciation for the work of all those who played a part in creating this House: our colleagues in the Bureau, in its successive incarnations, Secretary-General Klaus Welle, and all our colleagues in the Administration, the conservators, the historians, the architects, the designers – all the specialists who have worked on the project.

I wish to thank you all for the energy and commitment that you have put into this project.

I shall ask you to put your energy to further use in ensuring that this wondrous cornucopia of knowledge is visited by thousands and millions of our fellow citizens, who will come here to learn about Europe’s history.

The latest Eurobarometer poll clearly shows that our citizens want us to build a strong Europe that makes its presence known and can provide the answers they are looking for in a globalised world that so many fear.

We need to reassure our citizens by showing them that Europe is very much there and that it is united and ready to take up the challenges facing us all.

Our citizens need to understand our project better. Where we come from, how we arrived here, and the concrete benefits of this project to their lives.

We have a clear obligation – a duty – to tell the truth about Europe to everybody, from the most rabid Eurosceptic to the keenest Europhile; to schoolchildren; to students and young people, to workers in every sector of the economy, and to pensioners.

The thirst for Europe needs to be slaked with more information and an open debate.

I was elected President of the European Parliament with a clear, stated aim: to bring Europe closer to its citizens.

We need to solve the problems that matter to them, from security to immigration and employment.

Today I am proud of being here with you. I can just imagine the families, students, citizens of all ages, nationalities and languages, looking at the exhibits, watching the videos, using the tablets, and feeling inspired to ask questions about our common history.

This House of European History will make thousands of citizens discover better who we are and how we are bound together with a shared history. 

We need to emphasise our shared history because this teaches us that, although we are so different in our languages, in our customs, in our food and drink, we are so clearly linked in a common destiny, with common memories and a shared destination.

When we look back at Europe after the war we can see our founding fathers united in a vision for Europe in peace.

Our fathers and mothers have forged our common identity though a common vision bringing about more prosperity by promoting our values of unity and solidarity.

This may be, my friends, our shared vision for the next chapter in European history - A Europe close to its citizens, strong in its identity and in its values promoting peace and freedom in the world.

Let us be confident of our European identity and confident in our shared destiny. Let’s proceed to write the next pages in history together!

Thank you for your attention.”

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