Speech by President Jerzy Buzek at the ceremony of the 25th anniversary of the Schengen agreement
Your Royal Highnesses,
Dear Minister Asselborn,
Dear MEP Goebbels,
Dear Mrs Lalumière,
Dear Mayor Weber,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is the most important anniversary for the European citizens. The anniversary of the Schengen agreement for me personally has a double meaning. As a President of the European Parliament I feel proud that for twenty five years Europe, step by step, has been abolishing its internal frontiers. This way a promise made by our founding fathers becomes a reality.
But the agreement has also special meaning for me as a Pole. In 1985 Poland was not a free country. People from Solidarność were being arrested or prohibited to leave the country. Those in exile were not allowed to return. Citizen's passports were not in their drawers, but in the drawers of the police.
At the same time here in Schengen five countries from the free part of our continent decided to abolish border controls and let their citizens travel freely.
We in Central and Eastern Europe didn't even dare to dream about it then. Now most of us are part of this free area.
But what I strongly hope for is that the Schengen zone will gradually expand for all the EU countries that wish to join it. This agreement is also of a great value for other non-EU counties and four of them are now part of the system (Iceland, Monaco, Norway, Switzerland).
Today, it is important to remember that Schengen agreement provides us more than just the abolition of internal frontiers for our citizens. It gave us common rules concerning our external borders, harmonized visa rules and enhanced legal and police cooperation. As well as the Schengen Information System which lets us fill more secure in our common home called the European Union.
This newly re-opened museum will educate future generations, so that we never forget that the freedom of movement we have today was not always such an obvious thing.
It is also the first museum on European integration and I am glad that it is placed in world's best known village.
It is remarkable that the small community of Schengen attracts some 10.000 visitors every year.
Now the European Museum will be able to better present to visitors an important part of our European history. But also to better inform them about the present and future of Union's frontier and neighbourhood policy.
We must also remember to educate our young citizens who are our future. I welcome the fact that this museum offers them special material and services. I am also delighted to be able to welcome young students from the Schengen Lyzeum in Perl. A school which brings Luxemburgish, German, French and exchange students together.
They are a living proof of the European motto: 'United in diversity'.