“People only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognize necessity when a crisis is upon them.”
— Jean Monnet.
On this day 60 years ago, European nation-states, having emerged from the ruins of death and destruction of two world wars, opened a new chapter of history. Six representatives of European states signed the European Economic Community into existence through the Treaties of Rome.
In doing so, the leaders of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands acted with a clear vision — far ahead of their time — and laid the foundations of an “ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe” that has evolved into today’s EU.
A union where business thrives due to the benefits of trading in a single market and using a single currency. A union where students freely exchange ideas and challenge their perspectives by studying in numerous member states. A union in which innovation cuts across state boundaries and contributes to societal advancement. A union in which our guests are welcome to travel and explore unique places that are united in their diversity, and have built a “union among people” rather than merely “cooperation between states.”
The EU, at its heart, is a dream of a peaceful, shared future. It is about guaranteed freedoms and shared growth. It is about the voluntary pooling of sovereignty to serve national and common interests in a more effective way than each member state could on its own.
The remarkable results achieved across the EU and its member states over the past 60 years are in no small part due to its development-driven strengths. Though our future generations will not relate to Europe’s divided history in the same way as our forebears did, it must never be forgotten that today the EU has seen 70 years of peace after millennia of wars and turmoil.
Due to the four freedoms of goods, services, labor and capital, we also stand stronger together economically, as the world’s largest single market and trading power.
We are Taiwan’s largest investor and one of its most important trading partners. The euro is also the world’s second-most-used currency. Our commitment to peace and sustainable development extends beyond our own borders, as the world’s largest donor of development and humanitarian aid.
Globally, we seek to innovate and contribute to the international community as a whole and vow to work closely with like-minded partners who share our values. We count Taiwan amongst them, as an open and democratic society with respect for human rights and large potential for continued cooperation and increased bilateral trade.
The EU continues to be a unique project. It is, after all, still a relatively young institution when compared to most of its member states and is a “work in progress.” Those who seek to innovate and break new ground are presented with unique challenges.
Additionally, the EU faces regional and global challenges: The ramifications of an aging society, a destabilized neighborhood, terrorism, a refugee crisis and significant migration, as well as socioeconomic challenges and effects of climate change.
However, in a globalized world, these challenges are neither surprising nor should they be limiting.
The EU is built on common values and a common vision. Ever since the signing of the Treaties of Rome, this unique project continues to show great resilience and upholds the conviction that by joining forces, each member state will be better off. Considering the uncertain times in which we live, the need for a united EU voice and collective action will only become greater.
Europe is stronger with a strong EU. Whether as 28 or 27, the project will and must continue. Change in all things might be inevitable, but what we want from our lives and the European values that we hold dear remain the same: peace, freedom, tolerance and solidarity above everything else, and democratic societies which respect a diversity of views, ensure equality for all citizens and provide our children with a better life than earlier generations.
The EU will go forward and engage in an honest and wide-ranging debate with citizens on how Europe should evolve in the years to come through a series of “Future of Europe Debates.” The ideas, will and determination of the hundreds of millions of EU citizens will give renewed momentum to the European project, and will be the basis of a process for the EU to decide the future of our union together.
As Robert Schuman said: “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.”
Madeleine Majorenko, head of the European Economic and Trade Office.
Albin Mauritz, director of the Austrian Office Taipei.
Rik Van Droogenbroeck, director of the Belgian Office Taipei.
Vaclav Jilek, representative of the Czech Economic and Cultural Office.
Nicholas Enersen, director of the Trade Council of Denmark, Taipei.
Jari Seilonen, representative of FinPro Taiwan, Finland’s Trade and Innovation Office.
Benoit Guidee, director of the French Office in Taipei.
Martin Eberts, director general of the German Institute Taipei.
Janos Albert, representative of the Hungarian Trade Office.
Donato Scioscioli, representative of the Italian Economic, Trade and Investment Office, Taipei.
Hugues Mignot, director of the Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office, Taipei.
Guy Wittich, representative of the Netherlands Trade and Investment Office.
Maciej Gaca, director-general of the Warsaw Trade Office.
Michal Kovac, representative of the Slovak Economic and Cultural Office, Taipei.
Jose Luis Echaniz Cobas, director-general of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce.
Henrik Persson, representative of Business Sweden’s Swedish Trade and Invest Council.
Catherine Nettleton, representative of the British Office.
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