The Portuguese government joins the celebration of the 68th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, marking "Europe Day". This is an occasion to remember how much this project of peace, democracy, prosperity and solidarity, founded upon values and principles such as the protection of fundamental rights, the rule of Law, freedom of movement, market economy, social justice and conflict-solving by political and diplomatic means has helped us consolidate our democracy, while making a decisive contribution for the modernization and economic and social development of our country.
Today we also celebrate 32 years of full and committed participation in the European project. Commitment and solidarity have set the tone for our participation in the European Union. We have always been at the forefront of European integration, with a constructive and committed spirit, supporting the “small big steps” of a unique and unparalleled political, economic and social, one that that has resulted in undisputable gains for the citizens of Europe, its ultimate beneficiaries and agents.
These are the benefits we must continue to cherish, by promoting real solidarity between European Institutions and the Member States and, in particular, towards and between European citizens. This was also Robert Schuman’s message 68 years ago, when he stated in his famous declaration that “Europe (…) will be built through achievements which first create a de facto solidarity”.
The support of citizens and the public opinion to the European project is more decisive today than ever before. It is with this goal in mind that Portugal, like other Member States, has launched its "Encontros com os cidadãos" (Meetings with citizens) initiative, aiming to bring civil society into the discussion of the more relevant aspects of the European project, while communicating its benefits to citizens and involving them in its construction and fine-tuning. Only by placing citizens at the center of European policy can we guarantee the solidity and sustainability of the European project.
Economic and social cohesion is also a fundamental value and a political leitmotif of the European Union. Only a cohesive and solidary Europe, capable of reducing asymmetries and countering the fallacy of winner and loser countries will be able to respond with efficacy and consistency to the many challenges it faces today (migratory pressures, Brexit, terrorism, human and drug trafficking, unemployment, inequality, competitiveness, climate change, etc.) These are the principles that must guide us all during the negotiations of the next multiannual financial framework of the European Union.
It is of the utmost importance that the European project, as the most solid political construct ever put in place for the safekeeping and maintaining of peace, the also an effective instrument for the promotion of cohesion and solidarity between peoples and citizens, thus fulfilling its founding purpose.