Twenty one leaders of all the EU member states including the President of Greece Prokopis Pavlopoulos, issued a joint statement on Thursday celebrating Europe Day and the 74th anniversary of the end of World War II.
"Only a strong community will be able to face up to the global challenges of our time," the 21 European Presidents of Republics note. "The effects of climate change, terrorism, economic globalisation, and migration do not stop at national borders. We will only meet these challenges successfully and continue on the road to economic and social cohesion and development by working together as equal partners at the institutional level," they say, calling on EU citizens to exercise their right to vote at the European Parliament elections on May 26.
The joint statement comes ahead of the European elections in May 2019 follows.
The full statement follows:
Europe is the best idea we have ever had
European integration has helped to realise a centuries-old hope for peace in Europe after unbridled nationalism and other extreme ideologies led Europe to the barbarity of two world wars. To this day, we cannot and should not take peace and freedom, prosperity and well-being for granted. It is necessary that we all engage actively for the great idea of a peaceful and integrated Europe.
The 2019 elections are of special importance: It is you, the European citizens who decide which path the European Union shall follow. We, the Heads of State of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Republic of Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland therefore call on all European citizens who are entitled to vote to take part in the elections to the European Parliament at the end of May 2019.
The peoples of Europe have united out of their own free will in the European Union, which is founded on the principles of liberty, equality, solidarity, democracy, justice and loyalty within and between its members. A Union which is unprecedented in the history of Europe. In our European Union, the elected Members of the European Parliament, along with the Council of the European Union, that is, the Governments of all Member States, decide which rules should apply in Europe and how Europe’s budget should be spent.
We are all Europeans
For many people in Europe, particularly among the young generation, their European citizenship has become second nature to them. It is not a contradiction for them to love their village, town, region or nation and to be committed Europeans.
Our Europe is able to meet challenges together
In these months, more than ever before, the European Union is facing profound challenges. For the first time since European integration began, people are talking about rolling back one or more integration steps, such as freedom of movement or abolishing joint institutions. For the first time a Member State intends to leave the Union. At the same time, others call for more integration in the EU or the Eurozone or for a multi-speed Europe.
Views on these matters differ among the citizens and governments of the Member States, as well as between us Heads of State. However, we all agree that European integration and unity is essential and that we want to continue Europe as a Union. Only a strong community will be able to face up to the global challenges of our time. The effects of climate change, terrorism, economic globalisation, and migration do not stop at national borders. We will only meet these challenges successfully and continue on the road to economic and social cohesion and development by working together as equal partners at the institutional level.
We want a strong and integrated Europe
We thus need a strong European Union, a Union that has joint institutions, a Union that constantly reviews its work with a critical eye and is able to reform itself, a Union that is built on its citizens and on its Member States as a vital base.
This Europe needs a vibrant political debate on the best path forward into the future starting from the Rome Declaration of 25th March 2017 as a basis. Europe is able to withstand a very wide range of opinions and ideas. But there definitely must not be a return to a Europe in which countries are no longer equal partners but opponents.
Our united Europe needs a strong vote by the peoples. This is why we call on you to exercise your right to vote. It is our common European future that is on the ballot.