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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Quadriga prize acceptance speech
Quadriga Prize ceremony
Berlin, 3 October 2009
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,
heute ist ein guter Tag für Deutschland, denn wir feiern heute den Tag der deutschen Einheit.
Und heute ist ein guter Tag für Europa, denn Irland hat "Ja" gesagt zum Reformvertrag von Lissabon. Danke Irland! Ich hoffe, dass der Vertrag jetzt sehr schnell in Kraft treten wird. Denn er wird Europa stärker machen.
Heute aber haben wir erst einmal Grund zu feiern und deshalb ist heute auch ein guter Tag für die Quadriga.
Let thank first of all Prime Minister Tusk for his extremely kind words. The President of the European Commission, receiving the prestigious Quadriga award presented by the Prime Minister of Poland, in Berlin on the anniversary day of Germany's reunification nineteen years ago – this is not only a great honour for me personally, it is also a wonderful symbol of how far Europe has come.
‘ Falling walls – Building bridges ’ perfectly captures what is happening in today's world. Faced with challenges that respect no borders, we are bound to find new ways of working together.
There is no wall high enough that a single nation can build to protect itself from climate change. Or global pandemics. Or new types of security threats. Or a financial crisis. And even the challenge of migration cannot be solved with walls.
We simply have no choice but to reach out to each other, to build bridges and work together in partnerships across nations.
This is what we Europeans have been doing over the past sixty years, with the most outstanding success. And this is what we are now, more than ever, striving for on the world stage as well.
To reform the world’s financial institutions and to better regulate the markets. To restore confidence in our economic and welfare systems. To get our economies back on track and create sustainable jobs.
To bring our fight against climate change to the next stage of ambition, to the world stage. To do everything we can to ensure a good result at the forthcoming Copenhagen conference on climate change in December.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Quadriga, impassive atop the Brandenburg Gate, has seen it all:
Berlin divided by a Wall for twenty-eight years. This year, a few weeks from now, we celebrate twenty years since the fall of the Iron Curtain. Five years since the historic accession of EU Member States in central and eastern Europe. German Unity Day. Walls fallen, bridges built.
Indeed, the Quadriga is a symbol of it all.
Many of us instinctively recall images of the Brandenburg Gate, looming above scenes of jubilation, with people dancing on top of the hated Berlin Wall, every time we cast our minds back to the incredible events of 1989.
So I am very grateful to be associated with that moment of intense joy and freedom through this award.
And I will end with a promise: the work to pull down walls and build bridges will continue. Across a united Europe. And now throughout the world.