Press releases

Herman Van Rompuy gives speech on State of the Union at official opening of new EPC offices

10 September 2015

To mark the official opening of the European Policy Centre’s new offices at 14-16 Rue du Trône, 1000 Brussels, Herman Van Rompuy, President Emeritus of the European Council and President of the EPC, gave a speech on the State of the Union, addressing the many challenges the EU is facing at the moment and the role he envisions for the EPC in current and future EU policy making.

From Grexit to Brexit, eurozone economic governance to the upcoming Climate Conference in Paris, the conflict in Ukraine to the enduring migration crisis; President Van Rompuy’s speech at the official opening of the EPC’s new offices touched upon all the major issues currently troubling the EU.  

Despite this ‘perfect storm’, and the EU’s tendency to act only when its back is against the wall, he said he hoped this would not mean the EU will shy away from structural reforms, especially when it comes to the eurozone’s economic governance. Otherwise, he warned, “we will fall into the trap of short-termism, the disease of modern politics.” If the EU wants to effectively address these challenges, what is needed is more responsibility, more solidarity and more shared sovereignty, he noted.

In line with the Commission’s and President Juncker’s earlier calls for a new broader proposal on migration, Van Rompuy said if the EU wants to stay true to its own rules and values, it will have to develop more common policies on asylum and migration, not less. He called the lack of political energy in dealing with the refugee crisis “shameful”, and stressed that, now more than ever, the EU needs a common foreign and defence policy so that the root causes of the current crisis can be tackled: “As long as the war lasts, people will flee to Europe… Only peace can stop war refugees.”

On becoming EPC’s new President, he said that he considers it “an honour to have been asked to assume this role”, adding that “the EPC will continue to deliver its mission: to foster European integration through analysis and debate” and that he was “looking forward to being involved in this important endeavour in the coming years.”

After his speech, Herman Van Rompuy also officially inaugurated the Max Kohnstamm Room, in honour of one of the founding fathers of the EPC. A great advocate of European integration throughout his career, Max Kohnstamm played an instrumental role in the early development of the European Union, collaborating closely with Jean Monnet. In his speech, Herman Van Rompuy applauded Max’s life-long promotion of reconciliation and cooperation in Europe, saying that “his commitment to European integration should serve as an example to us in today’s uncertain world.”

You can find the full version of the speech here.


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