Below is the text of the speech made by Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, on 31 January 2020.
Indeed, yesterday, when we were at Bazoches, there was a very nice quote from Jean Monnet, who has said: ‘I am not pessimistic, I am not optimistic, I am determined.’
I think it goes very nicely with the three of us joining forces. We are not optimistic, we are not pessimistic, we are determined. It was a very good retreat yesterday at Bazoches. We discussed indeed the matters that have been named, mainly also the digitalisation and the European Green Deal.
We know that digitalisation is happening anyways, so we must harness it and we must shape it. We are convinced that technology sovereignty is consistent with an open market. And it means to build competitiveness with our values embedded in it.
The same goes for the European Green Deal. We have been discussing the European Green Deal as our new growth strategy towards competitive sustainability. Europe is frontrunner in this topic, and it is not only our European mobilising project, but it also requires that Europe leads in this topic as a global authority.
Therefore, we thought that we know very well that as the sun rises tomorrow, a new chapter for our Union of 27 will start. And with it comes a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that Europe leads the way on these two twin ecological and digital transformations.
Indeed, tomorrow, almost half a century of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union is over. When the UK joined – I was still at school –, we were 6 Member States. Tomorrow we will be 27 Member States.
During all these years – 47 plus years –, our Union has gained political impetus and has become a global economic powerhouse. Our experience has taught us that strength does not lie in splendid isolation but in our unique Union.
Nowhere else in the world can you find 27 nations of 440 million people, speaking 24 different languages, relying on each other, working together, living together. This is not by accident or by chance. This is grounded in centuries of shared history, decades of shared experience and a determination and confidence to shape our common future together.
Let there be no doubt: The challenges that Europe faces, and the opportunities that it can grasp, have not changed because of Brexit.
– It is the climate change and the European Green Deal.
– It is being at the forefront of the digital revolution.
– It is managing migration in an effective and humane way.
– It is building strong partnerships across the globe.
And as part of this, we want to have the best possible relationship with the United Kingdom. But it will never be as good as membership.