José Manuel Dur ã o Barroso
P resident of the European Commission
European values in the new global governance
Opening of the Brussels office of the European Jewish Congress
Brussels , 14 October 2009
President of the European Parliament,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank the European Jewish Congress for inviting me to the opening of their Brussels office. This invitation reflects the relationship between the Congress and the European Commission, based on exchange and trust as part of our dialogue with religions and civil society. I welcome the Congress's commitment to inter-faith dialogue and the important work it is achieving in this field, under the leadership of its president Moshe Kantor.
A few weeks ago Europe solemnly commemorated the 70th anniversary of the start of the Second World War. To pay tribute to those who fought for freedom. And to honour the memory of millions of victims of barbarism.
A few days ago saw the death of Marek Edelman, a Polish Jewish hero of the Second World War, who led the desperate uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto, and was its last survivor. After emerging from the hell of the Shoah he played an active part in the restoration of democracy in Poland.
For me these two aspects of our history, the collective and the individual, must serve to remind the younger generations what the European Union stands for: freedom. Our political union represents the victory of law over arms, solidarity over nationalism and justice over all forms of oppression. Europe must never forget its origins. The Jewish communities of Europe have played a full part in building Europe because they have been able to bring their ideal of justice and peace to the European project.
This European political miracle carries with it duties. Firstly, our civic duty of vigilance. We must firmly reject all attempts to rewrite history or to deny the dignity of fellow human beings, and all displays of intolerance and racism. Reactionary regimes and forces keep citizens in ignorance, in particular the young. They feed fanaticism and stir up ethnic and religious hatred. We cannot and must not lower our guard.
We must all contribute to promoting European values – freedom, human rights, the rule of law, and first and foremost, peace. The European Jewish Congress is fully committed to the resumption of the Peace Process in the Near East and the whole of the Middle East. As you know, the European Union shares the same concern and the same hope.
The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama a few days ago has shone the spotlight on the will to bring a new dynamic into international relations, with the focus on putting multilateralism back at the centre of international action, fighting the spread of nuclear weapons and creating relations of trust between cultures. These are positions that the European Union supports and to which it is contributing through concrete action on the international stage.
My political guidelines for the Commission's next mandate stress the idea that Europe's actions must be based on its values , the cornerstone of which is solidarity. Solidarity within the Union, naturally, but also outside it. For I believe that our values have an important contribution to make to the global governance that is currently taking shape.
This is why Europe has proposed joint solutions for addressing the major world challenges.
For example in the global fight against climate change, in which Europe is acting as a pioneer and driving force, while not forgetting the support that must be given to developing countries.
Or in the coordinated management of the economic and financial crisis. I am very proud that the Union initiated, and has been central to, the G20 process from the beginning. This coordination has prevented financial systems worldwide from going bankrupt and economies from going into freefall. At Pittsburgh, all the G20 players stated their commitment to this process.
The facts are there: to address the major global challenges facing us today, we need a strong political will and a united front in Europe. And the global consensus must be as broad as possible if we are all to move forward in the same direction.
Yes, global governance needs Europe. Because as the ideal testing ground for globalisation, with its supranational rules and institutions, Europe has a unique political experience and a particular legitimacy.
In the difficult times of crisis we are going through, we need a strong and determined Europe. A political Europe. A Europe that affirms its values and defends its interests, without arrogance but without naivety. An open and supportive Europe.
The Irish people have understood this. By their resounding "yes" in the referendum, they have recognised not only that of course their country has benefited from European solidarity, but that Europe is key to managing the crisis. Not to mention the increased powers to act and address world challenges, particularly on the international stage that will, I trust, very soon be conferred on us by the Lisbon Treaty. The Polish President has just ratified the Treaty. I have confidence that the Czech Republic will do the same once its constitutional process has been completed.
Friends, I have set out to you the Europe I believe in. It is this Europe that I will strive to strengthen.