Dear speech-fans and -friends,
What has been the leading theme in the speeches delivered this past month?
In these weeks of transition in the European institutions, as Commissioners-designate have been preparing their hearings before the European Parliament this week and next, the highlight has been the Climate Summit in the United Nations. Although the United Nations Secretary General announced ‘the ticket to entry is not a beautiful speech, but concrete action’, we heard some powerful speeches.
So, climate. Our planet.
What do people remember from the speeches they have heard, and in this case from late President Jacques Chirac as France marks a day of national mourning on the occasion of his death last Thursday? In terms of speeches and quotes, these words delivered at the World Summit in Johannesburg in 2002 come on and on, in France and abroad: "Notre maison brule, et nous regardons ailleurs" – "Our house is burning down and we're blind to it".
So, climate. Our planet. Again.
Want to learn more about speechwriting and speeches? Eric Schnure, co-author of the the just released second edition of the Political Speechwriter’s Companion is coming to Brussels early November. To know more about the different events and the conversation I will have with him – and hopefully many of you ! – save this date: Tuesday 5 November 1.30 pm. More detail for our European-based readers will follow – or contact me directly. Eric began his career in 1993 as a speechwriter for Vice-President Al Gore.
So, expect stories on speeches on Climate. And our planet. Again and again.
Last but certainly not least : I’m heading to Washington DC for the Professional Speechwriters Association’s 2019 World Conference on 21 to 23 October. Looking forward to learning, getting inspired, and seeing many of you there.
You’ll find the best quotes, speeches, and rhetorical devices below, and under ‘Read more’.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Start with a ‘bang’
Nature is angry.
And we fool ourselves if we think we can fool nature.
Burning forests are a tragedy no matter where they happen and no matter their scale. A tree needs many years to grow, but only few minutes to burn. We seem to know this, but we needed a shock, the shock of the Amazon rain forest fires to awaken ourselves from our lethargy.
"Notre maison brule, et nous regardons ailleurs". ("Our house is burning down and we're blind to it.").
Jacques Chirac, World Summit in Johannesburg, 2 September 2002
The subtitle of this anthology of speeches announces: ‘a celebration of the old, new, and unspoken’. This beautiful book is indeed a celebration, as it highlights the ethos of the speakers and presents the circumstances and the making of the speeches, providing photographs of the notes when possible. You’ll recognise well-known masterpieces a[...]
« Nature is angry. And we fool ourselves if we think we can fool nature. -- António Guterres, Remarks at 2019 Climate Action Summit, 23 September 2019. ... »Antonio Guterres
Dear speech-fans and -friends,
Two main themes mark the speeches delivered this summer:
- buiding the speaker’s ethos. We see this in new European leaders introducing themselves as they are preparing for their mandates and taking office.
- And raising the alarm on global warming. This issue is in so many speeches. The challenge is to find the words and craft the speeches the situation is calling for : simple, clear, compelling so as to move from promises to action.
You’ll find the best quotes, speeches, and rhetorical devices below, under ‘Read more’.
To accompany and inspire you as you get back to work, what better advice than starting every day with a speech of note? The anthology ‘Speeches of note’ is all you need and you’ll find the details in the Bibliography section (the English version is already published ; the French translation is announced for next month).
How European leaders build their ethos
I- European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen
(English translation below)
(The opening was delivered in French)
Il y a exactement 40 ans, la première présidente du Parlement européen, Simone Veil, est élue et présente sa vision d’une Europe plus unie et plus juste.
C’est grâce à elle, et à toutes les autres icônes européennes, que je vous présente aujourd’hui ma vision de l’Europe.
Et 40 ans plus tard, c’est avec une grande fierté que je peux dire : C’est finalement une femme qui est la candidate à la présidence de la Commission européenne.
Je le suis grâce à tous ceux et toutes celles qui ont brisé les barrières et les conventions. Je le suis grâce à tous ceux et toutes celles qui ont construit une Europe de paix, une Europe unie, une Europe des valeurs.
C’est cette conviction européenne qui m'a guidée tout au long de ma vie et de ma carrière - en tant que mère, en tant que médecin et en tant que femme politique.
C’est ce courage et cette audace des pionnières comme Simone Veil qui est au cœur de ma vision d’Europe.
Et ce sera cet esprit qui guidera la Commission européenne que j'ai l'intention de présider.
Exactly 40 years ago, Simone Veil was elected as the first female President of the European Parliament and set out her vision for a fairer and more united Europe.
It is thanks to her, and to all the other European icons, that I am presenting my vision of Europe to you today.
And 40 years later, I can say with great pride that we finally have a female candidate for European Commission President.
I am that candidate thanks to all the men and women who have broken down barriers and defied convention. I am that candidate thanks to all the men and women who built a Europe of peace, a united Europe, a Europe of values.
It is this belief in Europe that has guided me throughout my life and my career — as a mother, as a doctor and as a politician.
It is the courage and daring of pioneers such as Simone Veil that are at the heart of my vision for Europe.
And it is my intention to lead the European Commission in that same spirit.
II - President of the European Parliament David Maria Sassoli
(To watch it in your language, see below.)
(Traduction en français ci-dessous.)
Io sono figlio di un uomo che a 20 anni ha combattuto contro altri europei, e di una mamma che, anche lei ventenne, ha lasciato la propria casa e ha trovato rifugio presso altre famiglie.
Io so che questa è la storia anche di tante vostre famiglie... e so anche che se mettessimo in comune le nostre storie e ce le raccontassimo davanti ad un bicchiere di birra o di vino, non diremmo mai che siamo figli o nipoti di un incidente della Storia.
Ma diremmo che la nostra storia è scritta sul dolore, sul sangue dei giovani britannici sterminati sulle spiagge della Normandia, sul desiderio di libertà di Sophie e Hans Scholl, sull’ansia di giustizia degli eroi del Ghetto di Varsavia, sulle primavere represse con i carri armati nei nostri paesi dell’Est, sul desiderio di fraternità che ritroviamo ogni qual volta la coscienza morale impone di non rinunciare alla propria umanità e l’obbedienza non può considerarsi virtù.
Read the full speech here.
Je suis le fils d’un homme qui, à 20 ans, s’est battu contre d’autres Européens et d’une mère qui, elle aussi à 20 ans, a quitté les siens pour trouver refuge auprès d’autres familles.
Je sais que cette histoire est aussi l’histoire de beaucoup de vos familles … et que si nous nous racontons nos histoires autour d’un verre, nous ne considérons jamais que nous sommes le fruit d’un accident de l’Histoire. Bien au contraire, nous considérons que notre Histoire est une histoire marquée par la souffrance, par le sang de ces jeunes Britanniques qui ont été tués sur les plages de Normandie, par le désir de liberté de Sophie et Hans Scholl, par la soif de justice des héros du ghetto de Varsovie, par le printemps réprimé par les chars dans les pays de l’Est, par le désir de fraternité que nous devons reconnaître chaque fois que la conscience morale impose de ne pas renoncer à l’humanité et que l’obéissance ne peut être considérée comme une vertu.
Interpretation available in English, French, German… (you can choose from the 24 official languages) here, starting at 13.06.
Dear speech-fans and -friends,
On the eve of a new five-year term for the European Parliament, European Commission, and other major positions in Europe, here’s our monthly selection of the best quotes and speeches for inspiration.
In these important times for the European project, it’s all the more an honour and pleasure to see every month new speech-fans and -friends registering for this newsletter, both European institutions insiders and citizens caring for words and quotes to express their ideas in a powerful way. Welcome and thank you for your trust.
You’ll find the best quotes, speeches, and rhetorical devices below, under ‘Read more’.
Make the most of this summer to get inspiration, read good speeches and books (see the Bibliography section), listen to good stories, and prepare for new challenges.
See you in September.
Advice to a newly elected European Parliament
Comme il est naturel et normal dans une assemblée démocratique telle que la nôtre, nous divergeons par les programmes que nous souhaitons mettre en oeuvre, par les idées que nous voulons défendre et même quant à notre propre rôle.
Gardons-nous cependant du travers qui nous conduirait à faire de notre Assemblée le forum des divisions et des rivalités. Trop souvent déjà, les Communautés européennes donnent à nos opinions publiques l’image d’institutions bloquées, incapables de parvenir dans les délais nécessaires à des décisions.
Notre Parlement aura pleinement satisfait les espoirs qu’il a fait naître si, loin d’être le lieu de résonance des divisions internes de l’Europe, il parvient à exprimer et à faire percevoir par la Communauté l’élan de solidarité si nécessaire aujourd’hui.
As is only natural and normal in a democratic assembly such as ours, we differ on the programmes which we
wish to implement, on the ideas which we wish to advocate and even on the very role we are to play.
Let us, however, avoid the error of turning our Assembly into a forum for rivalry and dissent. Too often in the past, public opinion in our countries has gained the impression that the European Communities are hamstrung institutions, incapable of reaching decisions within the necessary time-limits.
Our Parliament will entirely fulfil the hopes which it has raised if, far from being the sounding-board for the internal divisions of Europe, it succeeds in articulating and bringing home to the Community the spirit of solidarity that is so necessary today.
The value of a speech
One of the great powers and responsibilities of being a central banker is that you can move markets with a single line in a speech. Every word counts a billion. And this is why I always admire Mario's speeches, which are priceless pieces of art.
Telling the story of the euro
Allow me to tell you the story of the euro (…) As every European success story, it is full of crises and lessons learned (…).
And the speech comes full circle :
These six moments, these six examples are all examples of crises. But every time we have been challenged, we have found solutions and even surprised ourselves with what we can achieve. This is a fitting way to tell the story of European construction.
For a series of surprises and lessons learnt, from the British statesman who wanted his grandchildren to be able to pay in euro to the military asked to burn banknotes :
This past month has been extremely rich, with the European elections campaign inviting European leaders to translate their ideas into words and their platforms into speeches: several speakers came up with vibrant definitions of political debate and poignant pleas for democracy.
But May is also a special month in the European annual calendar: a month of commemoration (from the end of the Second World War to the Schuman declaration on May 9) and a month of celebration (from the State of the Union in the European University Institute in Florence to the International Charlemagne Prize for the Unity of Europe, in Aachen). These occasions compelled several European leaders to express what Europe - and the European way - is about.
Find out the best quotes, recurring themes, and rhetorical devices below.
We will all need this inspiration at the dawn of a new five-year mandate.
Speeches to comemorate – aka epideictic speeches
The beginning of the month of May is also metaphorically the time of year when we start to reflect. 1 May is Labour Day, when we remember that in 1890 we fought for the eight-hour working day. On 2 May, we remember the victims of the Holocaust, and on 4 May, we remember the victims of war in the Netherlands. On 5 May, we celebrate the Liberation. On 9 May, we celebrate European unification, which, for me, remains the most successful response to the tendency toward self-destruction which we Europeans have often displayed.
It is always difficult to keep these commemorations fresh. This today is one of the most inspiring initiatives – for which I thank you – which challenge us to reflect and discuss, not merely to engage in sterile commemoration. So much seems self-evident today. It is our responsibility to keep commemorations fresh in order to pass on the message and promise to our children and grandchildren too.Read more
With just four weeks to go before the European elections, this newsletter gathers the best quotes and speeches to speak about Europe today.
With several days off in May, you’ll have time to read the short yet most enlightening Chinese classic Treatise on rhetoric, just translated into French this spring – an English annotated translation already available since 2016. See the Bibliography section.
And the Best of the 2019 Cicero speechwriting awards has just been published. You can indulge yourself with one Cicero Award speech a day until the results of the election. I draw your attention to two of them especially: if you want to be energised, the Grand Award: Go boldly. If you want to be moved and read excellence in contemporary European rhetoric, a commemorative speech written by a fellow European speechwriter delivered just one year ago, early May 2018: Never be a bystander.
Today is no time for regrets. The world is fast outpacing Europe.
Europe cannot remain obsessed by the past, when the rest of the world is looking to the future.
It’s time to step up. What we do not do for Europe, nobody will do in our place.
Read the full speech here: Michel Barnier, European Policy Centre Breakfast, 1 April 2019
Ce que nous avons vu cette nuit ensemble à Paris c’est cette capacité de nous mobiliser, nous unir pour vaincre. Au cours de notre histoire, nous avons bâti des villes, des ports, des églises. Beaucoup ont brûlé ou ont été détruites par les guerres, les révolutions ou les fautes des hommes. A chaque fois, à chaque fois, nous les avons reconstruites.
Retrouvez le discours entier ici : Emmanuel Macron, Adresse à la nation au lendemain de l’incendie de Notre-Dame de Paris, 16 avril 2019
From this place [Strasbourg, France], I would like to say words of comfort and solidarity with the whole French nation in the face of the Paris tragedy. I say these words not only as the president of the European Council, but also as a citizen of Gdańsk, 90 percent destroyed and burnt, and later rebuilt. You will also rebuild your cathedral.
From Strasbourg, the French capital of the European Union, I call on all the 28 Member States to take part in this task. I know that France could do it alone, but at stake here is something more than just material help.
The burning of the Notre Dame cathedral has again made us aware that we are bound by something more important and more profound than Treaties. Today we understand better the essence of that, which is common, we know how much we can lose. And that we want to defend it – together.
Read the full speech here: Donald Tusk, to the European Parliament, 10 April