Sassoli: The EU is not a frozen system - we have shown we can challenge taboos 

Extracts of the speech by EP President Sassoli at the European Youth Event in Strasbourg

“I am very moved to see so many young people in this hemicycle, our plenary, once again full of citizens from all over Europe, gathered here to exchange ideas, debate and vote, to talk about our future, and to bet on the challenges that our future holds for us. This is our Europe. It is not a frozen system. Europe is a mechanism that forges itself through crisis. We have seen – particularly in this year and a half of the pandemic - how far we have come, challenging many taboos, that before the pandemic were untouchable, inviolable rules. We saw that it was convenient for our Member States to put those rules aside. Europe needs rules, but new rules that can allow the younger generations to be protagonists and not simply burdened with the debts of the past.

“I am very moved to see so many young people in our plenary for this event. It is incredibly important in the current situation, as the European Union is slowly emerging from this pandemic and is beginning a new chapter by looking to the future. We all know that there will be no going back.

“You all have had to reinvent yourselves, through distance learning. You have been deprived of human relationships at such an important time in your lives and you have had to change your plans for your future and for your career. We have discovered new ways to preserve human and working relationships.

“The European Parliament is very aware of the difficulties that young people in particular are facing. Young people, women, vulnerable groups in our societies are today particularly threatened by the economic and social crisis. We have asked, and will continue to ask , Member States to mobilise all necessary funds to support youth employment, education, mobility and sport.”

Regarding the threat to EU values in certain member states, the President added:

“I know that some countries are undermining the EU at the moment, and we hope and wish that they will reconsider their positions. We cannot allow any country in our Europe to violate fundamental laws and our treaties, and we will be unyielding in this.

The President finished by speaking about the Conference on the Future of Europe:

“We want this conference to open up a new phase, a phase of participation, but also of change. To change the rules, because we have seen in this year and a half that there cannot be taboos. European democracy must be more efficient and effective.

The European Parliament is very ambitious on this. We believe that today it is urgent to look at where we are, and where we want to go. This is an unprecedented exercise, because you, young people, the citizens of the Union, and all of us are called upon to contribute to this debate and to find ways forward together.”

The full speech is available here