Pat Cox: Enlargement will help to recapture the spirit of 1989

From a speech by the President of the European Parliament at a ceremony to mark the accession of 10 new EU states
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The Independent Online

Fifty years ago, a generation of European leaders, after a devastating war that divided our continent, saw all too clearly what was, but were prepared to dream of what could be. They had the courage of their European convictions. They opened a pathway to reconciliation and progress which none had walked before. We are the beneficiaries of that legacy.

Fifty years ago, a generation of European leaders, after a devastating war that divided our continent, saw all too clearly what was, but were prepared to dream of what could be. They had the courage of their European convictions. They opened a pathway to reconciliation and progress which none had walked before. We are the beneficiaries of that legacy.

I acknowledge today the leadership and determination of peoples and successive governments in the new member states. Today the transforming generation of leaders is awarded a glittering prize.

The new member states will now be firmly anchored in the community of values that inform and permeate the public purpose of the Union. Their rightful place at the heart of this community will also give them new confidence, new dynamism, which will generate positive effects on the whole Union.

In time, it will help us to rediscover of the spirit of 1989, that annus mirabilis, which has since yielded in some places to feelings of uncertainty, and some economic hardship.

Robert Schuman once wrote that an Irish saint, Saint Columbanus, was "the patron saint of those who seek to construct a united Europe". One thousand four hundred years ago, this early Irish European, in a letter exhorting the Pope to "arise from his sleep", described the Irish as ultimi habitatores mundi - the inhabitants of the world's edge. It is a powerful message to the enlarging Europe. His is an inclusive message, for a Europe which is home to all its peoples and to all its citizens.

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