It is Europe that will enable us to acquire the means to protect us from these great global shifts, and from new migrations, but above all to prevent them. It is Europe that will allow us to generate ambition for development with Africa and with the Middle East, so as to be present, and to help them develop and build a future.
It is through a Europe of new, greater cooperation that we will prevent terrorism and manage to eradicate it. And because we must never forget that terrorists want to see just one thing from us: shrinking inwards, withdrawing, fear of others. That is their greatest weapon. So we will cede no ground.
Face with all these risks, I believe, like you, in European sovereignty that will allow us to defend ourselves and to exist, to defend ourselves by applying our rules and preferences. Who will protect respect for your lives and for the data of your businesses in this digital world? Europe, and no other region. Who will protect us in the face of climate change? A Europe that seeks another form of energy production, a Europe that will protect us from dependence on authoritarian powers that sometimes have a grip on us. That is the sovereignty we need to believe in, which we need to find once more, because we have our own European preferences and we must never forget that. Not being sovereign means allowing others to choose in our place.
But are we like them? Is there any other continent with such a commitment to freedom, democracy and the social balances that hold us together, to this reconciliation of justice and freedom which are at last combined? I know regions where they like the economy and development, but where political authority prevails over freedom, in Asia. I know great powers that love freedom and have succeeded in capitalism, but which do not have the same commitment we have to equality and social justice, on the other side of the Atlantic.
But nowhere else is there such a political and social space where collective preferences – our preferences – are defended as such. That is what European sovereignty is about! If we give it up, the result is simple: we will be subject to the rules of one side or another.
Yes, our choice is to overhaul Europe without repeating the mistakes of the past.
In the early years of the eurozone, we made many mistakes, sometimes based on lies. Here, we need to say that too with humility and determination. Sometimes we have lied to the people, suggesting that life in Athens could be like that in Berlin without reform, and that was not true. But who paid for that? The political leaders who lied? No, the people who believed those lies.
It was the Greek people who paid, after all these years, when the crisis broke out – the financial crisis that became a sovereign debt crisis. The Greek people, after years during which we sought to correct all those mistakes through policies which, born of distrust, created, in one fell swoop, it has to be said, injustices and incomprehension. We lost the zest for social cohesion, which held us together. We lost it because we lost ourselves in a civil war, within Europe, between powers that had lost confidence in one another.