Ispra, 24 January 2019
[check against delivery]
Your excellency, Ambassador Bologan,
Dear Director-General Šucha,
My fellow Romanians on the semester committee, and to all of you, my fellow Europeans,
I am pleased and honoured to be at this ceremony.
My thanks to the Romanian Organising Committee for inviting me, for making me a part of this tradition.
My thanks also to Mr Šucha for hosting me, you are a gracious and informative host.
Dear friends and colleagues, today we mark the first Romanian EU Presidency.
We also promote Romanian culture.
But most of all, we promote the Europe that we all love.
The sculpture we will unveil today represents a tragedy.
The pain of war.
The pain of loss.
The pain of innocent lives, wasted.
This terrible, terrible loss calls us to silence it calls us to reflection.
And it reminds us of how far we have come as Europeans.
Dear friends, let us not forget the privilege we have today.
Of being together.
Of working together.
Of standing together, not as enemies, but as colleagues, and as friends.
Europeans working together.
This is a wonderful privilege, let us always appreciate it.
And working with you, is something I truly appreciate.
This has been an impressive visit!
A reminder of how much the JRC has to offer, and how essential you are to our work.
So thank you, first, for your work on Smart Specialisation.
This is a key element of cohesion policy today.
One of our flagships, moving into the future.
And you are essential to its success!
We could not have done it without you.
Second, the Global Human Settlement layer.
I was truly impressed by Martino’s presentation of this.
It is excellent and innovative.
We rely heavily on this work.
You have provided us with a tool to focus on cities, to track progress in development, and even monitor poverty and inequality.
I remember with pleasure the launch of this work, together with the OECD and World Bank, at the Habitat III conference in Quito.
The work has come a long way since then:
We expect the definition will be approved by the United Nations in 2020.
Without your support in the JRC, we would never have made such progress.
Third, thank you for the knowledge centre for territorial policies.
We asked for this, you did it!
This single entry point for regional and urban analysis, makes it easier to find relevant research.
It also creates opportunities for more synergies with other EU and national policies.
Finally, my thanks for the urban data platform
Again, we asked for this, and you did it!
We now have urban indicators from Eurostat, from the JRC, from REGIO and others in a single attractive platform.
Cities and citizens can now find and use this information.
So in conclusion, let me thank you again for your work.
It is truly a pleasure to work with you.
You have provided us with scientific support, expert knowledge, analytical depth.
Your support has been crucial to our work.
I started by remembering Europe’s painful past.
And how far we have come in working together.
Your work is an excellent example of the very best of Europe.
Of what we can achieve when we work together.
My thanks too to the Romanian Semester Committee.
Over the next six months you will help Europeans know each other a little better.
Do not underestimate the importance of Europeans understanding each other.
I encourage everyone here to take the opportunity to experience my part of Europe.
So here’s to the Romanians, to the Italians, most of all, to all of us, the Europeans,
Thank you for all you have done.
Long may we do such excellent work together!