Speech by Professor Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament: "The 25th Anniversary of Spain's Accession to the EU"
Dear Prime Ministers,
Today we are celebrating a great anniversary. Twenty five years ago Portugal and Spain decided to join us in building the European Union.
You came as partners, bringing with you your relationship to Latin America and your strong ties across the Mediterranean, opening Europe to new possibilities, and helping to create peace and stability in our neighbourhood.
You brought your culture, your traditions, and your proud history, making them part of our common heritage.
When Enrique Baron Crespo was elected President of the European Parliament in 1989, it was a strong signal that Europe believed in Spain and in Spanish Democracy. It was also a strong signal for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to start their transformations and transitions to democracy.
You proved that reforms serve a purpose and if we stick to the path, we too can enter the European Union. Your work inspired us, and last year I was the first member from Central and Eastern Europe elected to the post of President of the European Parliament.
Twenty five years ago this country made a choice to continue reforms after the dictatorship of Franco, to stabilise its democracy, and be a functioning market economy. That choice led to unprecedented growth, stability, and prosperity.
Today Spain is also faced with a choice. A choice which will affect the next twenty five years of your history, but will also affect your partners in the EU.
As I said this morning in Portugal, the economic crisis we are all facing is a challenge, but it is also an opportunity, an opportunity to change, and an opportunity to continue the reforms we need to make our Union fit for the 21st century.
In times of crisis we have to remember to do the right thing, and not the convenient thing. We have to remember that we have a responsibility to the next generation, as the last generation had to us.
I was in Greece and Romania in the past ten days, countries which are also facing tough decisions. Their governments will have to make difficult cuts and implement deep reforms. I will tell you what I told them - you are not alone. Europe will stand by you, no matter how long the road is, and how difficult these reforms are.
The European Union is not just a single market and a single currency. The European Union is much more than that. It is first of all a community, a community where the value of "solidarity" is the glue which keeps us together.
The past twenty-five years were a success story for Spain. I am convinced that Spain will be a success story in the next twenty-five years.