It's a pleasure to join you in celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Treaty of Lisbon. This commemoration builds a bridge between Europe's past and Europe's future. And what better place to mark this historic event than the European Parliament, a shining symbol of democracy.
Institutions matter. “They give legitimacy and ensure continuity,” as Jean Monnet rightly said. They matter because they expand our capacity to act. They are a reflection of what we stand for.
Let's look back a moment. The Treaty of Rome “confirmed the solidarity which binds Europe”. It linked our fates forever. The Treaty of Maastricht recalled “the historic importance of the ending of the division of the European continent”. It helped heal our wounds. The Treaty of Lisbon made our Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding. It anchored our Union in a bedrock of shared values. And set the stage for the Europe we know today, founded on values and democratic institutions; respected in global affairs and committed to improving the lives of its citizens.
We all feel a deep attachment to the fundamental freedoms of liberty, democracy, and the rule of law. The Lisbon Treaty shines a light on these core beliefs.
The Lisbon Treaty reinforced our democracy, by strengthening the Parliament's ability to steer a course for our Union.
The Lisbon Treaty also gave Europe a more powerful voice in global affairs by synchronising Europe's foreign and security policy. Today we can present a more unified face to the rest of the world and to paraphrase former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, I want Europe to be a player, not a plaything.
We are eager to move ahead now. There are so many challenges facing us: the climate, the digital agenda, peace, security, defence, being able to speak together with a strong voice on the international stage...
More than ever, I share with you the conviction that we have reasons to be confident, to be optimistic. A new institutional cycle is beginning, with a Parliament in place which is mobilised, looking to the future, ready to debate, ready to take on its full responsibility.
We know what the shared objectives are: the European Commission’s programme, broadly in line with the European Council’s strategic agenda. This perspective, and the conference on the future of Europe, will guide us as to how we can together, with our sleeves rolled up, shoulder to shoulder, move forward and progress with a view to giving the EU a new impetus.
Ten years after the Treaty of Rome, which has not yet revealed its full potential, let us turn towards the next ten years with confidence, optimism and hope, without ever forgetting that we must carry forward this dream, this ideal of Europe with realism and pragmatism, but above all with great determination in the service of all European citizens, wherever they are from, whatever their nationality, whatever their beliefs, on the basis of these very strong values which we hold and which drive us - these values which are the soul, the vital spark, of the European project.