Thursday

2nd Feb 2023

Van Rompuy: Europe is 'Fatherland of peace'

EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy has issued a robust defence of the European Union in the face of growing "suspicion and fear", arguing that the bloc must not be seen as a new "Moscow", but instead, the "Fatherland of peace."

"Sometimes, in the heat of the debate, the image of 'Brussels' is linked to the role of 'Moscow' in the Cold War. One should not accept this comparison," he declared in a speech to students at the University of Warsaw.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Warsaw - Mr Van Rompuy's trip is to help prepare for Poland's EU presidency (Photo: European Commission)

The president, in the Polish capital for a meeting with Prime Minister Donald Tusk ahead of the country taking over the reins of the six-month rotating EU presidency, said that the EU was responsible for hastening the demise of the Soviet Union and that its enduring purpose is to be a bringer of peace.

"The union's force of attraction accelerated the collapse of Communism and the end of the Cold War. That is a victory," he continued. "Europe is the best guarantee for peace. It was and is a work of peace. That's why I am so strongly in favour of a European perspective for the western Balkans, the last remnant of the Cold War and the last place where a war was waged."

"Europe has to be the fatherland of peace. We owe this to our history ... The bloody battlefields from our history have been replaced by Brussels negotiating rooms," he added.

The president has in recent months made a series of public speeches strongly defending the idea of the European project against all critics, whether markets or sceptical citizens.

On Wednesday, the leader told a group of students at the European College of Parma, that the eurozone "poses no risk to global economic growth." The next day, in London, he complained how eurozone members Spain and Portugal were not being given a chance by investors.

While in Berlin last November, he issued a stark warning against the forces of nationalism, euro-scepticism and populism: "We have together to fight the danger of a new euro-scepticism," he said at the time. "Fear leads to egoism, egoism leads to nationalism, and nationalism leads to war ... It is a feeling all over Europe, not of a majority, but everywhere present."

In Poland, again acknowledging the growth of euroscepticism, he returned to the theme, noting that "suspicion and fear" are growing in new member states as well.

"I sometimes explain that the enlargement of the European Union with the countries of Eastern and Central Europe in and after 2004 is not a bureaucratic process, driven by 'Brussels', but that enlargement should rather be seen as a deeply political enterprise, driven by a great historic event: the end of the Cold War and the unification of the European continent," he said.

"There is a perception that the single market is less popular than in the past and that it is seen by many Europeans with suspicion and fear. We have to reconcile both the citizens - citizens as consumers and as employees - and the entrepreneurs with Europe."

Mr Van Rompuy used the Warsaw event to outline the three policy themes he said the bloc should focus on in 2011 in order to combat both dissastisfaction amongst citizens and to return the EU to growth.

He said the coming year must see a deepening of the single market, a renewed emphasis on energy liberalisation and investment in research and development.

Complaining that research spending in the EU is 1.84 percent of GDP compared to 2.6 percent in the US and 3.4 percent in Japan, he called on "European heads of state and government to take more ownership of innovation and research."

EU lobby register still riddled with errors

The EU's lobby register remains riddled with errors, with pro-transparency campaigners demanding better data and mandatory rules. The latest findings come amid a raft of proposals by the European Parliament president to weed out corruption in the wake of Qatargate.

EU lobby register still riddled with errors

The EU's lobby register remains riddled with errors, with pro-transparency campaigners demanding better data and mandatory rules. The latest findings come amid a raft of proposals by the European Parliament president to weed out corruption in the wake of Qatargate.

Latest News

  1. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  2. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  3. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  4. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  5. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU
  6. EU green industry plan could spark 'dangerous subsidy race'
  7. Wolves should be defended, EU ministers urge
  8. EU Commission wants drones for Bulgaria on Turkey border

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  4. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  6. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us