Friday, 9 May 2008

Europe Day

Today marks the anniversary of the day when the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman presented his proposals calling for European countries to pool together their coal and steel production within a single European Coal and Steel Community.

The Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950 led to the establishment of the first European Communities and became the foundation for what is today the European Union.

The European Union remains an ongoing project and despite its shortcomings it is a remarkable feat when you consider that 500 million people are now part of a single internal market between 27 member states that has become the world’s largest economic trading bloc. Enlargement demonstrates the huge success of the EU than everything else when you think of the number of countries seeking to join.

While war among the EU countries is now unthinkable, there are new challenges confronting today’s Europe of 27, such as climate change, energy, immigration, globalisation, which still require concerted efforts to ensure security and prosperity.

I want to see Scotland very much a part of these efforts, playing a full part as a full member state of the EU, able to influence and shape policies in its own right with a much stronger and more effective voice and working together with its friends and neighbours in a relationship of mutual respect to tackle common problems like energy security, climate change, international development and sustainable economic growth.

It is worth recalling some of the Schuman Declaration:

World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it. The contribution which an organized and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. In taking upon herself for more than 20 years the role of champion of a united Europe, France has always had as her essential aim the service of peace. A united Europe was not achieved and we had war.

Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity. The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany. Any action taken must in the first place concern these two countries”.

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