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September 7 2014 | ANTWERP, BELGIUM

Herman Van Rompuy: peace is the very essence of the European project

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Peace is “the authentic essence of the European project” which we have been working on since the end of World War II and has “never ceased to grow”, aiming today to be more “caring and protective” of all Europeans and to “get the balance right” so as “not to be seen as only benefiting businesses but also employees”. Europe “very much needs more economic growth and a fairer distribution of income”. In his speech to the opening ceremony of the XXVIII edition of the Comunity of Sant’Egidio’s International Conference on “Peace is the Future”, the president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy praised the European project of which he has been one of the foremost leaders while at the same time appealing to the Union to continue the battle in order to meet the challenges posed by the modern world.

Of these challenges, the first and foremost is the challenge of peace which, in order to achieve, must “be able to count on a profound sense of common destiny and shared values” and requires – Van Rompuy added – “a constant battle which we must fight on a daily basis”. It starts with “reconciliation, which draws on forgiveness”. It “does not result from forgetting, because nothing lasting is ever built on denial of the past”. To be reconciled “is to accept the past … not in order to understand it or excuse it but to go beyond it”. 

Van Rompuy cited the example of the processes of reconciliation underway in the Balkans, which led to Serbia’s candidacy for EU membership, the challenges of the “new Europe” in Ukraine and the evidence of it in the election of Polish Premier Donald Tusk as the next president of the Council (he takes over from Van Rompuy on November 30). In every stage of its development, a united Europe has sought to adhere to fundamental values for which it stands: human rights, peace, justice, freedom, tolerance, responsibility, solidarity and friendship.

Quoting Pope Francis, the European Union Council president reminded the audience that “peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare”, adding that “living in peace means living with others in solidarity and with responsibility”, an “interdependence we experienced during the crisis in the Eurozone”.  

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