Europe Day is celebrated every year on 9 May. The date marks the anniversary of the historic Schuman Declaration of 1950, in which the then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman presented a central idea to set up transnational economic cooperation in Europe. The core motive of this proposal was to create the conditions for lasting peace and enhanced cooperation in Europe. His ideas set into motion the process of European integration and a year later, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was created, the predecessor of the European Economic Community and the European Union.
This year, Slovenians can feel even more a part of the European Union and the European Union know Slovenia better, as Slovenia will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in less than two months. As the last of the 2020–2021 Trio Presidency, Slovenia will give priority to finding solutions in areas that require urgent consideration or are of strategic importance for a better functioning of the Union and its position in the world.
We will pay particular attention to improving the resilience of the European Union to different types of crisis, such as the pandemic. We will focus on economic recovery and activities to strengthen the EU’s strategic autonomy. We will draw attention to the need to consciously preserve the European way of life, respect the rule of law and equal standards for all. We will also focus on strengthening the Union’s position in the world. In this context, we will work to strengthen relations with transatlantic partners and countries in the neighbourhood, particularly in the Western Balkans, where we would like to see more progress on EU enlargement.
We will also work responsibly and actively in the running of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which opens today with the European Parliament’s inauguration ceremony in Strasbourg. In this context, a series of public debates with experts and civil society will be taking place across the entire Union until next spring. The aim is to bring the European integration process closer to citizens of Europe. At the same time, it is an opportunity to come up with new proposals on how to maintain a peaceful, safe, healthy, and social European Union capable of overcoming crises and learning from them. We are convinced that the European Union can offer a range of positive solutions that individual Member States could not achieve on their own, and that its further progress is worth striving for – exactly as envisaged by Robert Schuman 71 years ago.