This year the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) will be joining forces once again with the other European institutions to mark the anniversary on 9th May of the Schuman Declaration, where the EU all began, in spite of recent tragic events writes Cillian Lohan.
The war in Ukraine has literally transformed the European agenda, upending the lives of millions of people and highlighting one key element of European integration: solidarity. This, together with peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of law, are the founding values of our shared house – the European Union – and Europe Day should represent a moment of reflection where we reaffirm – now more than ever – our attachment to what we have built together so far.
The historic speech by the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, exactly 72 years ago on 9 May 1950, must remind us of how far we have come in our Union, making war between Member States unthinkable and working together to build a common project based on unity, diversity and each other’s strengths. And this is precisely the point. We must not forget that our society’s greatest challenges call on us to work together.
At the EESC, home to European civil society, we want to tell the stories of all people working together on the ground; the stories of all civil society organisations working on the front line every day to help the Ukrainian refugees desperately fleeing war in their country, the stories of #CivilsocietyforUkraine. For this, we have created a specific section on our website where our members and their organisations show with words, pictures and videos what they are doing from a practical point of view, and how they are reaching out to help the Ukrainian people.
2022 is also the year dedicated to Europe’s young generations, with plenty of opportunities for young Europeans to make their voices heard and share their vision for the future. It is in this spirit that we are organising the programme for the next Europe Day at the Committee.
This year, the real event will take place on Saturday 7 May, when the EESC opens its virtual doors for a wide range of activities where everybody will have a chance to take a 360° virtual tour of our EU institution and interact with us.
We will find out more about how the EESC works, its advisory function in the EU decision-making process and its members – the representatives of civil society organisations actively engaged at grassroots level from all 27 EU Member States.
We will put names to faces and we will meet personally (even if remotely) to take stock of important issues such as the state of play of our Union and the way forward.
But this is not all. We will also set up a “youth corner”, giving young people the opportunity to engage with us in the context of the European Year of Youth. We will also organise a photo exhibition of our cultural projects and we will give all our visitors the opportunity to send a real “EU postcard” to family and friends.
Last but not least, let’s not forget that all this material will be available in the 24 official EU languages and will be accessible to everyone, at any time.
So now all I have to do is invite you to spread the word and to take a look at our website to get all the relevant information and find out who does what, when and how to connect.
Join us online on Saturday 7 May and learn more about how we are working hard every day to make the EU a better place to live: more sustainable, more resilient and more inclusive, thinking of future generations.
The Author, Cillian Lohan, is the Vice-President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in charge of Communication