Did we come too late?

Speech by Maria Pia Di Nonno on the occasion of the European Day of Reflection to coincide with the annual "State of the Union Speech" (Die Europa Rede) at the Allianz Forum in Berlin, 9 November, 2017.

Reproduced with thanks to the Allianz Forum

Today I have received an honor that I could never dream of and I am deeply grateful to the organizers - Berlin Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Stiftung Zukunft Berlin, Stiftung Mercator and Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe - and to "A Soul for Europe" friends for giving me confidence . However, at the same time I feel great responsibility and I would like to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to give voice to some of the most vulnerable actors in our European community. To achieve this, I will share with you some reflections - not like Maria Pia - but as a young European woman.

As a young person in Europe

I am a European town and I was born on September 8, 1989, exactly one day and two months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. This year is the twenty-eighth year since the fall of the Wall, which in turn was cut down after twenty-eight years. Today, too, I am 28 years old and I am an adult, but in 1989 I was too small to understand what was happening, although that day has completely changed my life. Like many other young Europeans, born around or after 1989, I have always benefited (and are still enjoying) the democratic process that that moment involved; even if - to be completely sincere - I often took it for granted.

I believe it was an undeniable right to live in a peaceful and democratic community, to travel around Europe, to have friends of different nationalities and to have the opportunity to find a job in line with my dreams and expectations. However, growing, I realized that all these goals are not obvious and that we must continually strive to improve our society; fighting against those forces that would lead to a previous state of division, increasing inequality and disrespect for others (mostly the most vulnerable).

In this regard, as a young Europe, I would like to appeal to the institutions to invite them to stimulate young people in Europe to reflect on their past and not to take it for granted: our values ​​of freedom, peace and solidarity are at present at risk. Let me quote in this regard Louise Weiss, one of the founding mothers of Europe, who wrote in his memoirs: "... the old and young people who still coexist in space ... do not coexist in time. They walk on the same ground, sleep under the same roof, but because of oblivion they live different worlds. "

What does this imply and implies? It means that young Europeans need to be more aware of their common history and values ​​that share them. If we forget the past, we could easily fall from the scale of European values ​​and rights. At this point, I can not mention the Erasmus Program, which this year is thirty years old, and the role of Sofia Corradi, known as "Mamma Erasmus" in making this dream come true.

Moreover, European history should begin to tell a different perspective: "History can be told differently; not just as a series of winners and losers, kings and queens, battles, wars, and hatred; but also as a concatenation of peace, useful inventions, cooperation and solidarity among peoples. That's the kind of story we should share, especially in times of crisis. "

Robert Schuman, in one of his best speeches (published in the book "Pour l'Europe"), highlighted the need to activate a "detoxification process" from the history manuals. And just following this principle two years ago, I took a courageous choice: I decided to continue research on Europe's Founding Mothers, promoted in 2014, hoping to find a PhD.

As a young woman in Europe

Now, instead, I would like to speak to you as a young woman in Europe. European women should be more aware of the impact of European policies in their lives. An article on the right to equal pay for wage and salary earners was included in the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community. I am referring to art. 119, which has completely changed the perspective of women's rights in Europe:

In fact, I have just mentioned some of the most important historical moments that have marked the evolution of the rights of European citizens in the workplace and the institutions simply to show how Europe has changed the lives of women; but also how women have changed Europe. I hope, in the future, that the European institutions will continue to recognize the role played by women (and still coated by them) in support of the European integration process. A democracy can not be defined as if it is forgotten that its population is composed of more than half of women.

Finally, once again, to remember Maria Fabrizia Baduel Glorioso and Simone Veil, both disappeared this year, which is a source of inspiration for me and many of my friends / friends.


I would like to conclude, after this brief overview of a young woman in Europe, with an alarm message and a hope - especially for young Europeans - and to do so I propose two stories.

The first is a personal anecdote often recounted by Alexandre Marc, promoter of the Center for International Formation Européenne (CIFE) founded in 1954. In 1931, Alexandre Marc was in Germany (precisely in Frankfurt) to attend as a speaker at a conference. The event hall was full of young Germans who listened carefully to his speech, though their minds and hearts had already been captured and fascinated by national-socialism. And so, to forget all those negative thoughts, Alexandre Marc decided at the end of the conference to take a walk. At some point she stopped to rest in a park and sat on a bench, near a poor man who asked him:

"Are not you out of here?" "No," I said, "I'm French." "Are you a businessman on a business trip?" 

"Yes, in a way," I said. 

"What do you sell?" 

"I sell an idea that is not bought, the idea of ​​peace, justice and fraternity among men, and the union of all Europeans."

Looking at me in a great silence he said, "It's a good idea"

"And what a shame that you come too late."

Too late: these words I never forgot. 

We avoided the opportunity to avoid humanity a terrible disaster because we arrived too late. 

I hope you will never say "Too late". 




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