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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Speech by President Barroso on the occasion of the Steiger Award Ceremony 2011

Steiger Award Ceremony 2011

Bochum, 12 March 2011

Herr Bundestagspräsident Lammert,

Frau stellvertretende Ministerpräsidentin Löhrmann,

Frau Oberbürgermeisterin Scholz,

lieber Herr Rüttgers,

lieber Herr Hellen,

meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren,

Sie wissen gar nicht, wie erleichtert ich bin heute Abend, hier in der Bochumer Jahrhundert-Halle. Als ich das letzte Mal im Ruhrgebiet war, musste ich meine Rede im Freien und bei starkem Schneefall halten. Das war am 9. Januar 2010 in der Zeche Zollverein in Essen, bei der Eröffnung der Kulturhauptstadt "Essen für das Ruhrgebiet". Wie gerne wäre ich bei dem Wetter damals "Unter Tage" gefahren. Aber Fritz Pleitgen - ich glaube, er ist heute auch hier - war ohne Gnade: "Dem Barroso zeigen wir, was richtige Kumpels aus dem Pott sind. Wir machen das an der frischen Luft!"

Ich habe seit diesem Tag eine sehr authentische Idee vom Ruhrgebiet, von seinen Menschen und von der Symbolik des "Steiger". Und die Kulturhauptstadt war wahrlich ein großer Erfolg für die ganze Region.

Sie haben heute schon viele Preisträger und Laudatoren gehört. Ich bin sicher, langsam haben Sie alle Hunger. Deshalb erlauben Sie bitte, dass ich nun auf Englisch fortfahre. Das fällt mir etwas leichter.

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Mr Hellen,

I want to thank you wholeheartedly for awarding me today the "Steiger" Award in the category "Europe". I just need to see the list of awardees this year and of the previous years to feel very proud and deeply honoured.

As you know, I am now serving as the President of the European Commission for more than six years. It has never been an easy job, I can assure you. This is not a complaint. I love what I am doing.

But this is a particularly serious moment in the history of European integration for all of us, and especially for everyone who bears responsibility in our societies.

This is true for our national leaders. Only yesterday, as you know, we had a very important summit meeting with all the Heads of State and Government from the EU, to find stable and solid solutions for our economic problems.

If am proud to report to you that at 2 a.m. in the morning we were able to reach agreement on some important points. This happened because it is now evident that only together we can face these important challenges.

When I just referred to the national leaders and their responsibility for our European project, then I also want to explicitly include the national parliaments. Their role, their input and their scrutiny are today more important than ever including on European matters. Norbert Lammert, a citizen of this town and the President of the German Bundestag, will confirm this. Let me thank you very sincerely for your very kind words in your laudation.

But it is not just a matter for the national parliaments, but also for the regional and local levels. The EU would be just an empty shell without the manifold activities of its citizens in the regions, cities and municipalities. Europe is not just Brussels. Europe is also Bochum and Nordrhein-Westfalen.

Europe needs commitment, solidarity and responsibility.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thus Europe needs Germany, as much as Germany needs Europe. I want to thank the German people for the solidarity in these times and during the process of European integration as a whole.

But indeed, Europe is more than a Gesellschaft, it is a Gemeinschaft, a true community of peace, freedom and justice.

This is why we should remind of the fact that these are the values that the people, men and women, in the Southern Mediterranean are fighting for at the risk of their life.

It is important that Europe stands by them and supports the democratic transitions.

This is why I want to conclude not only by thanking you, Mr Hellen, again for this wonderful award. I also want to congratulate you for the success of your initiative for Bochum, and that Europe features prominently among the categories of this award. There can never be enough activists for Europe.

Meine Damen und Herren,

"Glück Auf", und herzlichen Dank.

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