9 May 2005

Commission declaration

This year we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe. We do so against the backdrop of the first anniversary of our historic enlargement; an enlargement which has reunited the European family and healed the wounds of more than half a century; an enlargement that has consolidated our hard-won democracy and the respect for fundamental values, which so many fought to secure. We honour the many innocent victims of past conflicts and those who paid the highest price in defence of freedom and democracy. We remember as well the many millions for whom the end of the Second World War was not the end of dictatorship, and for whom true freedom was only to come with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Today we also mark a unique, unprecedented endeavour in integration launched by the Declaration of the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, on 9 May 1950. Over the intervening fifty-five years we have grown from a common market to a Union; 450 million people from twenty-five independent nations, in peaceful co-operation, defining together European solutions to common problems.

A process of on-going integration which has spread stability across the continent; a process which has enabled us to develop strong ties with our nearest neighbours and which, even today, is instrumental in resolving the very last border disputes left over from the end of the war.

Our ambitious partnership – delivering peace, freedom and democracy, spreading prosperity, and sharing solidarity and security - has been the inspiration for the peaceful revolutions that brought freedom and democracy to millions of Europeans; it has helped to drive the sometimes challenging reforms that today are stimulating growth, jobs and investment and offering more of Europe’s citizens the chance of a better life. Vital democracies and modern societies bear witness to our capacity to reinvent our continent.

From the internal market to our external borders, from promoting cohesion at home to solidarity and justice around the globe, we, following the method of Jean Monet, have set about building Europe through concrete, practical steps that improve the daily lives of Europe’s citizens around the world. Approval of the Constitution will consolidate these achievements and lay the basis for even greater progress in the future.

European integration has changed the face of Europe. It has been driven by the common wish of European people: freedom and lasting peace instead of war, replacing conflict, mistrust and hate with understanding and respect; and all of this backed up by institutions to support both our shared destiny and our rich diversity. It is our lasting tribute to all those who fought against evil in the Second World War and all those who have turned their back on totalitarianism, narrow nationalism, racism and prejudice. It is our key to a brighter, stronger future for ourselves and our children.

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