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9 May: looking to the future

It is by looking to the future that we discover the way forward! For the nations of Europe this is the lesson of 72 years of integration.

Bringing peace, rebuilding societies ruined by dictatorships and war, these were the tasks of the second half of the 20th century. They were achieved by the European project.

Commemorating the then unlikely launch of the unification of the continent on 9 May 1950 with the Schuman Declaration is justified and appropriate. But it only makes sense to look resolutely to the future.

What it teaches us is, firstly, that Europeans have all the necessary assets to plan their future with confidence. With its imperfections, Europe remains a unique pole of stability, wealth, solidarity and equality in the world. It should not doubt the strength of its achievements and the model it embodies, which are so attractive to its neighbours, such as Ukraine. It should only realise the urgency of completing them by achieving economic and financial integration and, perhaps more arduously, diplomatic and military unity. It can achieve this while respecting national identities.

For the 21st century, in turn, is presenting us with surprises and challenges. They are numerous and immense: pandemics, the emergence of new competitors, new rivalries and now an open conflict coldly intentioned and decided by one of the last remaining dictatorships in Europe.

Let us not underestimate the stakes of recent events: Democracies are once again fighting to defend their model, which places the human being at the heart of society. Their enemies are numerous, and they no longer hesitate to use force to try to subdue them. The Russian war of aggression is the most disturbing, disgusting and recent illustration of this.

It is for this reason that it must end with the defeat of the aggressor and that the whole of Europe, with all its nuances, is already contributing and will contribute decisively to that end. The lesson will go beyond the European or Western framework.

In the face of peril and after many disasters, Europe has been able to unite. This is the real message of 9 May, which few took seriously at the time and which many criticised, with the exception of the populations who accepted it from the outset.

It remains more relevant than ever. It is in unity that our future is shaped. It is European. This is a reason for optimism.