European Youth Parliament Congress
02.09.2012 Speech by Mr. Georgios Markopouliotis, Head of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus, on Sunday, 2 September 2012, 09:00 at Ayiou Athanasiou Municipality Theater, Limassol.
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be here today addressing this group of young and motivated students and even more so for me, as a European Union official, it is exciting to see all of these enthusiastic young people who from early on in their lives, like myself, seek to become actively involved in the European Union.
It is this kind of interest and involvement in the European Union by the next generation, that will work to shape the European Union of tomorrow and it is in you and other youths like you around Europe that I place my hopes for the future of the European Union.
EYPs all around Europe gather bright students from schools who wish to debate European Union issues, learn about the institutions and share their experiences with other students in EU countries. These young people of Europe represent the embodiment of the common hope that the next generation keeps alive and the common consciousness that we as European states, share a united future.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Europe today is going through a crisis, which from an economic crisis has evolved into a discussion around Europe's very "raison d'etre". Without exaggerating, we can say that this is one of the most severe crises that Europe has had to face since its inception more than half a century ago. With increased economic hardship brought by the crisis to many regions of Europe, nationalistic rhetoric is once again sadly taking hold and dangerously becoming louder.
However, the crisis has also brought core European values to the forefront of the discussion. These values are solidarity and responsibility. We should always bear in mind that Europe's success throughout the years was from the very start founded on the ideas of solidarity and responsibility. Europe's prosperity as today's largest economy in the world has been achieved thanks to the solidarity between member states and the continuous will to expand the area of shared benefits from European integration.
From the outset, solidarity has been the strongest building block of the Union and again today, in times of crisis, I remain thoroughly convinced that it is this shared sense of solidarity that will be conducive to the adoption of the right set of policies which will pave the way out of the current hardships that so many European citizens are going through.
At the same time, it is the responsibility of the Member States vis-a-vis their obligations towards the Union that keeps Europe strong and credible towards its international counterparts and its citizens.
Cyprus has for the first time since becoming a member of the Union taken the relay in July of the Presidency of the European Council. Cyprus will be working to achieve its priorities under the conceptual banner "Towards a better Europe". This idea of a better Europe, closer and more relevant to its citizens could not be more appropriate in today's difficult context.
Rekindling the warm relationship of the Union to its citizens is the first step before moving forward in anything else. Despite achievements of the past, we must today remind the European Union's citizens that we can serve to build the bright future for our youths around Europe, the future they have a right to hope for.
The Cyprus Presidency is working hard to achieve a final agreement on the Multiannual Financial Framework, the EU's budget for 2014-2020, by year's end. We are confident that Cyprus with its skilful diplomacy, will manage to close the deal on the MFF. The MFF is of crucial importance to the functioning of the European Union and it must be allowed to be the European stimulus package it can be. Cohesion and structural funds have been for years the concrete expression of European solidarity and of the will to extend prosperity and economic vitality to all areas of Europe.
The newly announced project bonds will constitute an additional effort to make things better in the regions that the economic crisis has hit hard, too hard. Let me just quote a great literary figure that all of you will know, Albert Camus: "Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present."
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The realization that together we are stronger, together we are better, and together we are safer must continue to push us forward towards one united destiny, despite the difficulties that may lie ahead of us on this path. The young people of Europe know this.