It is a great pleasure to welcome you to this event dedicated to “The Sound of Europe”.
Music and the visual arts are two of the many things that unite the countries and peoples of Europe and touch the essence of the European soul. Remembering these ties is all the more important now, in the midst of a pan-European debate about the course and future of Europe that was partly sparked by the European elections.
The aim of this debate must be to win back the hearts and souls of the European people.
That is why, during its Council presidency in the first half of 2014, Greece tried to focus on subjects that are highly relevant to our everyday lives. Even though the legislative period was shorter due to the European elections, we managed to get a great deal of legislative work done. This was not limited to high-profile initiatives (such as the Single Resolution Mechanism), but also included less spectacular areas of work, such as adopting directives that might sound highly technical and dull, but which nonetheless touch upon important aspects of our lives.
At the same time, Greece has been experiencing its most serious crisis of the post-war period. The country has completed a massive adjustment programme amounting to more than 30 per cent of its GDP, which will ultimately result in a primary surplus. We have implemented a remarkable number of reforms based on OECD and World Bank criteria. However, this was only achieved at a high socio-economic cost. We must not forget that the crisis mainly affects young people. We need to make sure that these young people do not become “lost generations”.
Recent developments in Europe show that we cannot take anything for granted – in fact, the situation is even more fragile than we had previously thought. The goal of a united Europe is more important now than at any time since the end of the Second World War.
I hope that the sound of Greece – and of Europe – will help us hit the right note with the people of Europe. Perhaps this series will even ring in a phase in which we are able to focus more on our shared history and values.