Our fragmentation is only superficial. In fact, it is our greatest opportunity. Instead of deploring our many languages, we should make them an asset. Europe must be a place where all students can speak at least two European languages by 2024. Instead of lamenting the divisions between our countries, let’s step up exchanges. In 2024, half of students in a given age group should have spent at least six months in another European country by the time they are 25, whether they are university students or learning a trade. In this place where pioneers, like those in Bologna, Montpellier, Oxford or Salamanca, believed in the power of learning, critical thinking and culture, I want us to be worthy of this grand design.

I believe we should create European Universities — a network of universities across Europe with programmes that have all their students study abroad and take classes in at least two languages. These European Universities will also be drivers of educational innovation and the quest for excellence. We should set for ourselves the goal of creating at least 20 of them by 2024. However, we must begin setting up the first of these universities as early as the next academic year, with real European semesters and real European diplomas.

We should begin creating these ties from high school. I want us to begin harmonizing and mutually recognizing secondary diplomas. As we have already done for university students through the Bologna Process, let’s launch a Sorbonne Process to create a programme accommodating exchanges, changes and transitions throughout the European secondary-school system.

Because as Mounier said, “that which is universal speaks to people in several languages, each of which reveals its own singularity.” These initiatives are not acts of resistance. They are acts of conquest for future generations. Because what remains at the end is that which unites people! It is this collegiate life together that you will experience in Paris, Milan, Berlin or Gdansk. This is what matters, what makes up this European cement, this unbreakable tie that holds Europe together, so that when governments lock horns, when policies change, there are women and men who can carry these shared histories on.