On Europe Day, 21 European heads of state made a joint call, encouraging everybody to vote in the European Parliament election, saying it’s the European citizens who decide which path the bloc will follow.
Europe is the best idea we have ever had
European integration has helped 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 election is 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, the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, France, Croatia, Italy, 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 election 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 25 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.
President of the Republic of Bulgaria
President of the Czech Republic
President of the Federal Republic of Germany
President of the Republic of Estonia
Michael D. Higgins
President of Ireland
President of the Hellenic Republic
President of the French Republic
President of the Republic of Croatia
President of the Italian Republic
President of the Republic of Cyprus
President of the Republic Latvia
President of the Republic of Lithuania
President of the Republic of Hungary
President of the Republic of Malta
Alexander Van der Bellen
President of the Republic of Austria
President of the Republic of Poland
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
President of the Portuguese Republic
President of Romania
President of the Republic Slovenia
President of the Slovak Republic
President of the Republic of Finland
The opinions in this article are those of the author. The “Europe Day” of the EU was introduced in 1985. The date commemorates the Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950. The declaration proposed the pooling of French and West German coal and steel industries, leading to the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, established in 1952. The cover image is illustrative. Read also: 15 years of Estonia’s EU membership – victories, challenges and future developments.