Ralitsa Kovacheva, 8 May 2011
“May 9th is Europe's birthday! Our great European adventure began 61 years ago today. In the wake of World War II, on the ruins of a vast battlefield, Europe reinvented itself and became a byword for peace and prosperity.” With these words the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, addressed Europeans on the occasion of the 9th of May – Europe Day.
According to him, Europe is facing two major challenges: “ensuring our citizens' well-being and spreading stability through the rest of the world, starting with our neighbours in the south and in the east”. Mr Van Rompuy noted that in economic terms the EU was going through a difficult period, but recovery was already underway. “Unfortunately, in some countries, the errors of the past have to be corrected, but the measures adopted should help bring about prosperity and sustainable employment.”
The President of the European Council underlined that the "awakening of the Arab world" had reminded us that "we ourselves have to defend our values more".“Europe has the means to fulfill the hopes of our southern neighbours. We want the countries of North Africa and the Middle East to become an area of prosperity”, President Van Rompuy said, noting that the European Council with the 27 member-states leaders is working on this.
In her statement on the occasion of Europe Day Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, also paid special attention to North Africa and the Middle East. She noted that the EU had a greater ability to respond to the situation thanks to the newly created European External Action Service (EEAS). “For the first time, we are able to bring together all the tools that the EU has: diplomacy, political engagement, development assistance, humanitarian aid, economic cooperation, and civil and military crisis management.” Apparently in response to the criticism that so far the High Representative had not met the expectations to be Europe’s “single voice” to the outside world, Ms Ashton said: “The service will act as a single platform to project European values and interests around the world. And it will act as a one-stop shop for our partners.”
This week, six months after the start of the EEAS, HR Catherine Ashton will hold her first general debate on foreign, security and defence issues with MEPs. The European Parliament held a serious battle last year to ensure its right to democratic control over the diplomatic service.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also highlighted the economic recovery and the relations with the southern neighbours as the biggest challenges for the EU. Mr Barroso stressed that, as before, the EU would emerge stronger from the crisis, because:
“We are completely changing the way we coordinate economic and budgetary policies. We are complementing monetary union with further steps towards a genuine economic union. We are re-launching the Single Market in view of its 20th anniversary to fully exploit its potential for growth and jobs. We are committed to support democratic transitions in the Arab world in a spirit of partnership for democracy and shared prosperity. We are adjusting the way in which we ensure border-less travelling within the Schengen area and better migration management, while neither going back on the Schengen principles nor on the underlying values of freedom and human rights.”
On 9 May, at 9 am President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek will deliver a formal speech on the occasion of Europe Day. The Information Office of the European Parliament in Sofia will organise a celebration under the motto "Europe is my home." In front of the National Theatre "Ivan Vazov" an exhibition is arranged, named “Bulgarian MEPs: Brussels - Strasbourg – Bulgaria”, which represents the work of the Bulgarian MEPs. At the City Hall Library an exhibition of cartoons, named “Bulgaria and Europe”, is presented.
“Are the European values threatened by the economic and financial crisis?” is the topic of a public discussion, organised by the European Movement, the Union of European Federalists and the Information Center of the Ministry of Defence. Hungarian Ambassador in Sofia Ms Judith Lang, Finnish Ambassador in Sofia Ms Tarja Laytiaynen, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence Dobroslav Dimitrov, Deputy Minister of Defence Avgustina Tsvetkova and Dr Andrei Kovachev, MEP and Chairman of the Union of European Federalists in Bulgaria, are invited to share their views.
euinside will also take part in the discussion because we have repeatedly commented on issues, such as whether the ideals of EU's founding fathers are still valid, what is the future of the Economic and Monetary Union and how to strengthen the moral authority and political weight of the EU globally. Exactly with the analysis of these issues, in the article "Germany for all, all against Germany", euinside has won for a second consecutive year the national stage of the competition for the European Parliament Journalism Prize in the category "Internet".