Values to unite 'divided' Europeans
7 September 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Asking if people still dare to believe in a European dream, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said on Tuesday that the EU should work towards common European values to truly unite the community.
7 September 2004
AMSTERDAM — Asking if people still dare to believe in a European dream, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said on Tuesday that the EU should work towards common European values to truly unite the community.
Speaking at the start of the conference "The Politics of European Values" in The Hague, the Dutch leader said EU member states should not only co-operate economically, but also disseminate European values.
Lamenting that "we have achieved a united Europe without uniting Europeans", Balkenende called on European nations to search together for values that will link communities together and inject new zeal into the EU.
This was one of the main reasons why the Netherlands organised a conference on European values. Balkenende hopes "to prevent Europe from becoming a spiritless machine that, in the end, grinds to a halt".
He said a search for uniting values was necessary to tackle large social issues such as human rights, liberty and solidarity. Furthermore, joint action is necessary to combat terrorism.
"Values must be the road which leads to what we cannot reach by way of the economy and institutions alone — the accession of European citizens to the European Union," the Christian Democrat CDA leader said.
Balkenende — who is currently EU President — also said common European values were at threat from indifference, scepticism and the increasing pressure of self-interest, Dutch public news service NOS reported.
Furthermore, voter indifference stole headlines at the European Parliament elections in June and concerns have been expressed in the past that the public feels too far removed from the central organs of European power.
But Balkenende is confident the European Constitution will help unite Europeans. He said the constitution would make Europe more democratic and provide further guarantees that decisions will be taken by those closest to the citizens.
"And it acknowledges the significance of Europe as a community of values," he said.
Queen Beatrix was also attending part of the conference and other dignitaries such as former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing and Latvia's President Vaira Vike-Freiberga will also address the conference.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news