Dear European Democrat Students,
It is a pleasure for me to contribute to this special edition of BullsEye, which marks both the 60th anniversary of EDS and the 30th anniversary of your magazine.
This last year was difficult for all of us, but it was particularly difficult for students all across Europe. With schools and universities closed for months, you were deprived of the most precious occasions of socialising, human contact, and personal growth. It must have taken a heavy toll on you, I am well-aware of that.
Even now, as we slowly – and cautiously – emerge from this crisis, we are faced with a situation that is completely new to us all. The past months have shaken our beliefs and certainties. The only thing we can be sure of is that we are embarking on a new journey, full of challenges but also of opportunities: it is up to us to decide whether we will allow ourselves to be dominated by the fear of challenges, or if we seize with hope the opportunities we are offered.
Like our Founding Fathers after WWII, we also need to put aside all divisions and hesitancies, and resolutely turn our eyes towards the future, to build – from the ashes of the pandemic – a new Europe, one that will promote sustainable and inclusive growth, one that will fight climate change without letting our industries and the most vulnerable of our citizens pay the highest price, one that will lead the digital transformation in a humane manner, and one that will fight to preserve its values against all those who seek to undermine them.
When we support our Belarusian friends and all those who fight for their freedom, when we stand up to Russia’s aggressive policies, when we counter China’s attempts to expand its authoritarian rule across the world, then we are truly ourselves. Because Europe as we know it will not exist without democracy, without the rule of law, without a vibrant civil society, without respect for others, without the freedom for people to choose their own destiny.
All this can be achieved only if our European Union is led by a strong, determined and a united centre-right. It is therefore with hope that I address you. Because you are the future of our political family. And I believe that – wherever your paths may lead you – you will carry on our tradition of authenticity, of responsibility, of good governance, of respect for your opponents and of pursuit of the common good.