Extracts from the speech of the European Parliament President at the opening of the Femmes exhibition
European Parliament President David Sassoli used his speech at the opening of an exhibition organised by the NGO Samusocial, to call for national governments and institutions to focus on tackling poverty, marginalisation and inequality.
The exhibition, which tells the story of homeless women who were hosted in the European Parliament during the height of the COVID pandemic, will be on display in the Parlamentarium in Brussels until February 2021.
In his speech, the Parliament President said:
“We are not only opening a photo exhibition here. We, here and now, affirm a principle: public institutions must be close to citizens, especially to the weakest and most vulnerable. In this spirit, we opened the Kohl building to homeless women in collaboration with Samusocial and built a strong network of support in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg.
“Covid has revealed many truths: it revealed our fragility, the importance of public health, and the importance of working together for the common good. But after years of silence, a reality that many have denied has come to light: the extent of poverty and marginalisation in our societies.”
“The truth is that in recent years "growth" has been only for the few. Only the markets have grown, where people play the role of consumers or spectators. This is why poverty has been hidden. We instead want to talk about it. Poverty must be fought and defeated. This must be our way of dealing with reconstruction after the socio-economic devastation caused by the pandemic.
“This is our obsession in the negotiation underway with the European Council for the multi-annual budget of the EU. We must use the lever of the enormous economic resources that the European Union will make available to all, to change our way of life, not to go back to the models of the past. We must finally have an ecologically sustainable economy, which enhances the planet's resources and does not impoverish them, which has the good of all at its centre and not just the profit of a few.
“We will have to fight. Together. Even more than before. Beginning by denouncing as an outrage the fact that your organisations are often denied even small amounts of money for your initiatives, while others circulate billions of euros for financial investments that enrich only a privileged few. We need you - as only together can we change Europe, bring it closer to people, make it is more just, and make it capable of overcoming poverty and inequality. We do not want a world designed for the privileged few.”