Quirinale Palace 25/03/2017
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
Messieurs Presidents of the European Institutions,
I am greatly honoured to welcome you here today at the Quirinale Palace at the closing of the solemn ceremony that at the Capitol - the same place that hosted the six Founding Countries sixty years ago - commemorated the anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome.
From Rome, in those early days of spring, rose a sign of confidence in the prospect of Europe. The sign of a new start - as many have recalled - following the first real moment of crisis in the Continent's integration project with the failure of the European Defence Community.
The evolution of those Treaties and the broad vision of the founding fathers, through a common commitment, made it possible to develop a community with an unequalled social model.
In these past few years our project of liberty and democracy has been under attack. Only a few days ago, one year after the Brussels attack, another act of terrorism struck London, one of the capitals of Europe.
Defeating the arrogance of terrorism, which brings its bloody endeavours on the doorstep of our Institutions, requires commitment in giving firm answers anchored in the Rule of Law.
Our unreserved solidarity goes to the people, the Parliament and the Government of Britain. What we need is widespread mobilisation, especially of people's consciences, and an incisive common action by enhancing cooperation among our security and intelligence systems.
The European Union, with its reasons of solidarity and shared commitment towards development and peace, must shoulder a fundamental role in reasserting the value of life against the peddlers of death.
The Union, over these past sixty years, has gradually become stronger, acquiring growing competences and turning into a multidimensional Union, built on sound and continuously developing Institutions.
This Europe of ours has gone through periods of impasse - as in the seventies - which alternated with periods of intense activity - as in the time that elapsed between the Single European Act and Maastricht and the Eastern enlargement of Europe - and with others of great disappointment, such as with the failed ratification of the Constitutional Treaty.
But we mainly have in mind the great moments of hope, as on the first day of circulation of the Euro, the progressive assertion of that extraordinary free space that goes by the name of "Schengen" or the continuous expansion of the Erasmus Programme: hopes confirmed through their development.
However, we are well aware of the difficulties we face today.
A short while ago, at the Capitol, you adopted a challenging Declaration that plots the road to undertake in order to give new momentum to our Union.
A Declaration that reaffirms, without any pretense, that our future identifies with our being, together, Europe and moves in the direction indicated in the most ambitious scenarios recently outlined in the Commission's White Paper, upholding the most authentic values underlying the integration process.
It is these values of openness, solidarity amongst peoples and generations, and tolerance, which assert the principles of liberty and democracy, that will enable the Union to make that "quantum leap" of which we so greatly feel the need today.
Without the prospect of taking further steps forward - which have borne the load in the construction of Europe - we risk a fatal paralysis because of the lack of uplift.
However, the guiding principles of the Declaration are self-evident: a secure Europe emanating stability to its neighbours; internally prosperous and adopting sustainable growth strategies; that develops its social model through the strenuous protection of individual rights; the authoritative promoter of peace and a leading player at international level.
If we want the Union that citizens insistently call for, in fulfilling this endeavour we must wholeheartedly conclude that the present European architecture will have to be redesigned.
The tests that the European Union is already now called on to overcome - the economic and financial crisis, the migration phenomena, and the crises at our Eastern and Mediterranean borders, along with the threat of terrorism - forcefully face us with the need to relaunch the inevitable objective of reforming the Treaties.
The next ten years - as highlighted in the Declaration - will be truly crucial for our common project.
Globalisation, by quickly multiplying the players on the international scene, players who are undoubtedly our friends but also our competitors in the normal flow of market forces, oblige us to follow an ever-faster paced agenda. The speed of change, which occurs at an unprecedented pace, must spur us to close ranks within our Union, also to make it more nimble and competitive.
Our window of opportunity will not remain open forever and we must grasp a hold of it now. We must be capable of governing change before it becomes impossible to do so.
No self-isolation will ever be able to guarantee our citizens the same level of peace, prosperity and liberty that we now have.
It has been said in this respect that European Countries are divided into two categories: the small States and those that have not yet come to realize that they are small. It is undoubtedly an unusual definition but it deserves a moment of reflection.
The essence of the Union's choice consists of promoting an integration process based on the decision to pool together talents, resources and capabilities to enhance the wellbeing of our societies and to foster the continuing development of our democratic institutions.
The discussion over getting to work on the review of the Treaties will not be simple but what emerges from the Declaration is that today marks the beginning of a "constituent phase" which I hope will be fruitful, enriched with the diversity of options and, in any case, with the unity of intents that Member States will be able to contribute to this common construction effort.
It is with this wish, along with the wish for a fruitful day of work, that I invite you all to raise your glasses and join me in a toast to Europe, our Europe, the Union of all our people.