Šefčovič announces bid for Commission President candidacy

Šefčovič announces bid for Commission President candidacy


Ladies and gentlemen, just 30 years
ago, being a young student in Bratislava, I was looking through the barbed
wire fence, the infamous Iron Curtain. I was wondering how people on the
other side of the river Danube lived like. How our Austrian neighbours were doing? At that time, I couldn’t have imagined that
Europe would be united one day and I personally would be able to work for her. Today, I am standing in front of you ready
to serve Europe in yet another capacity. Nine members of the Party of European Socialists
from across Europe, as required by our internal rules set in June, have granted me their support. I am truly honoured by this trust. It allows me to confirm that I want to be
in the lead and energise our collective efforts within the Social Democratic family to push
forward concrete, convincing, inspiring solutions for the people of Europe. Every time-period has its own challenges. And this also applies to our current days. We are going through several societal changes
that many people find threatening. I am talking about a sense of inequality because
the benefits of globalisation are not distributed fairly and the gap between rich and poor is widening. I am talking about a sense of uncertainty
because of digitalisation or automation. And I am talking about migration, demography
as well as certain nostalgia for the past. And it’s all happening in the world where
the rule-based international order and institutions are being challenged and where our progressive
values are under pressure. But what I find most of all
threatening are false promises. Across Europe we hear about simplistic solutions
built on populist, anti-European or xenophobic views. They exploit people’s fears,
legitimate disappointments or anger. They steal, twist and misuse
the sense of patriotism. They thrive on divisions. And they often play with fire, eager to destroy
our European cooperation, our European dream. Our responsibility as politicians is to understand
why some of our citizens are responding to them tempted to turn democratic tables upside down. Building the future by re-creating the past
never works. My vision is therefore clear. We need our people, from all walks of life
and every corner of Europe to be and to feel fit for the future. I want to increase their sense of stability
and security as well as their sense of belonging to our common European project. Our Europe must have everyone’s back. Ladies and gentlemen, during my almost 10-year
service for the European Commission, I have seen what we can achieve together. It is clear that in many areas, Europe
will have to lead by example. In others, we simply have to rise to the challenge
and strengthen or build our own resources because we cannot rely on anyone else. Our destiny is clearly in our own hands. We need to make sure that
this century will be European. And it can be. This is why I stand for Europe’s autonomy
in key breakthrough technologies. It goes hand in hand with assertive
trade and competition policies. Because we need to make sure that Europe
will perform well amidst fierce competition and be ready to deal on par with other great
powers such as the United States or China. That is why I stand for strong European
industrial policy in strategic sectors through public-private partnerships. It is also vital for our ability to
innovate and have our brightest minds working on their dreams here, not overseas. That is why I stand for constant up-skilling
of people from childhood to retirement, especially in green, digital, and financial skills. It is another must because the top ten professions
of today didn’t exist just five years ago and the pace is just accelerating. All this will define whether modern businesses
and high-quality jobs are created here, in Europe, and whether we become
frontrunners of the 4th industrial revolution. While doing so, the EU must remain the strongest
advocate of our democratic values, freedom, justice and fairness. We must fight against discrimination. Strive to eradicate poverty in
Europe and in the developing world. And we must lead global climate action
to protect the planet for our children. In my programme, you will find more ideas
and solutions that, I believe, will make the EU stronger. I am convinced that this vision
stands on strong feet and is relevant to all our Member States. All in all, I see our Europe as confident
and proud, smart and green, socially fair and showing solidarity. Our values can and should be our main assets. Ladies and gentlemen, in the last ten years,
I criss-crossed Europe many times and spoke to hundreds of Europeans
in every single Member State. This personal experience is a source
of my vision and my drive to serve. I have learned that we need our actions to
prove to our people that we truly care; that we are inspired by their work, determination,
wisdom, but also by their idealism and hope. There is one more lesson I take from
my engagements around Europe. To restart the integration engine, we must
stop talking about west, east, north, south. The bridges between the centre and the periphery,
cities and rural areas, but also between citizens and their representatives must be solid,
built on mutual trust and understanding. We have to get rid of barbed
wire fences in our minds. It is the responsibility of us,
politicians, to set the right example. Otherwise, we are silently sowing seeds of
animosity that some will not hesitate to reap. Mesdames et messieurs, l’issue de ces élections
définira les contours et le visage de l’Europe de demain. Pour rallier tous les coins du continent, nous
aurons besoin d’une équipe de personnalités forte et diverse, qui soit soudée
autour du Spitzencandidat. C’est à cette condition seulement que nous
pourrons éveiller à nouveau l’imagination de nos concitoyens, et leurs
espoirs, partout en Europe. Ca ne sera pas une mince affaire. Mais ce moment démocratique est une opportunité
unique pour renouer le dialogue avec nos électeurs, et rétablir leur confiance dans
nos institutions démocratiques. I am proud to belong to the European
social democratic and progressive forces who are well placed to meet
people’s aspirations and hopes. Thank you very much.

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