European heads of state: European citizens decide which path the EU shall follow

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.

Rumen Radev

President of the Republic of Bulgaria

Miloš Zeman

President of the Czech Republic

Frank-Walter Steinmeier

President of the Federal Republic of Germany

Kersti Kaljulaid

President of the Republic of Estonia

Michael D. Higgins

President of Ireland

Prokopios Pavlopoulos

President of the Hellenic Republic

Emmanuel Macron

President of the French Republic

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović

President of the Republic of Croatia

Sergio Mattarella

President of the Italian Republic

Nicos Anastasiades

President of the Republic of Cyprus

Raimonds Vējonis

President of the Republic Latvia

Dalia Grybauskaitė

President of the Republic of Lithuania

János Áder

President of the Republic of Hungary

George Vella

President of the Republic of Malta

Alexander Van der Bellen

President of the Republic of Austria

Andrzej Duda

President of the Republic of Poland

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

President of the Portuguese Republic

Klaus Iohannis

President of Romania

Borut Pahor

President of the Republic Slovenia

Andrej Kiska

President of the Slovak Republic

Sauli Niinistö

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.

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