Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-010"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, after 17 years as a Member of this European Parliament, I am standing here today, on behalf of the Liberal Group, to deliver what is probably my last speech in a plenary debate. I am proud, and at the same time thankful, to be here today in a historic place at a historic time. This is a historic place because the European Parliament is at the heart of democracy in Europe and the only European institution to be elected directly by 450 million European citizens. Very soon, on 13 June, the peoples of 25 European countries will collectively choose their MEPs at the same time. Today, Europe is one, reunited in a voluntary, peaceful and sustainable manner on a footing of equality, parity and solidarity. Eurosceptics say that we are investing in a dream. That may be so, but what is wrong with that? At least, and that is important, we are, to a great extent, managing to realise our dreams and unifying Europe. Today, we are specifically commemorating Jean Monnet, the first thinker, or can I say the first dreamer, of a unified Europe, the architect of the Schuman plan, and the initial founder of the present European Union. With Jean Monnet in mind, we can dream to our heart's content. We can cherish dreams, as long as we know how to translate them into action. Although our great European dream is not complete, we have made a good deal of progress. In addition to Jean Monnet, I should also like to pay tribute to all those thousands of others who have helped pave the way and, not least, to the European citizens themselves. The step we are taking on this journey today should also give renewed impetus to the European integration process, because the lack of a truly political European Union will be even more tangible from today. If the European Union is to play a real role of any significance in the world, it should stop appearing to be a purely economic alliance and grow into political adulthood. Today is about more than just the European Union's enlargement; it is about a mutation, a reunification of Europe and of all Europeans. Indeed, today, we are taking a historic step – a step from division to unity, from threatened conflict to guaranteed peace and stability, a step from socio-economic inequality to sustainable growth and prosperity for all our European citizens. Congratulations to all in this House, because we have not missed this historic opportunity of a European Union. Consequently, it is with confidence that I am passing on the torch to the many new, young, enthusiastic Europeans in the unique assembly that this European Parliament is. I should like to say to these young Members, and to all MEPs: the future of Europe is in your hands. Fare well, Europe. Remain a beacon of peace and quiet in the stormy sea that our world, alas, has all too often become."@en1

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