Europe Day is an occasion for celebration, but also for reflection. In 1950, the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, set out his idea for a new form of political and economic cooperation in Europe, which would make war in Europe unthinkable. This was the decisive step for the creation of a united Europe, and the first chapter in our European success story.
In times of financial crisis and turmoil at our borders, we sometimes tend to forget what Europe brought - not only to its growing number of Member States, but in particular to its citizens: lasting peace, political stability, and increasing prosperity.
The objective now for the European Union is to extend this success beyond its borders, to make war in its neighbourhood unthinkable and to support its partner countries in their political and economic transformation.
To make this objective a reality we are, firstly, working very closely with those countries that have the perspective of joining the European Union, through our enlargement policy. Their perspective is real, but fulfilling the strict but fair conditions for accession is a demanding process. Their citizens have a legitimate aspiration to share the benefits of EU membership like open borders and a single market as EU citizens do today, and we all remain strongly committed to supporting them on their European path.
Secondly, we have agreed on a close partnership with our eastern and southern neighbours with whom we share interests and want to make most of the opportunities arising from closer cooperation. This is an ambitious goal, but a vital one. In both the south and the east, there are human tragedies in the making, from armed conflict to the desperation of migrants gambling their lives against the smallest hope of a better future.
The situation in our neighbourhood requires efficient and well-coordinated common action. The European Union is part of the solution but needs to do more and do better. This is why we have launched a broad review of the European Neighbourhood Policy, to make it more robust and efficient.
Europe has a responsibility towards its neighbours, and a clear self-interest to engage: by supporting people in need, by helping them in their reform agendas, and by standing firm on our ideas and values. A committed enlargement policy and a more active European neighbourhood policy are a natural continuation of the process our founding fathers launched 65 years ago.