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
« I want to thank the (organisers) for giving me this opportunity to talk about democracy this morning. Actually, we shouldn't be talking about it, but we need to talk about it. It should be something like the air, or the water, but sadly it isn’t, so there are many reasons for us to discuss this. -- Frans Timmermans, Invigorating and Strength... »Frans Timmermans
With the European elections in just two months, it is topical that this month’s harvest offers a selection of speeches with a special focus on building a rapport with the audience. You’ll find your monthly selection of the best speeches and quotes below.
Building a rapport with this audience, in this place, for this event
- Here in Lund, Sweden
In 1962, before many of us were even born, a young law graduate from the United States arrived here in Lund. The topic of her studies – civil procedure in Sweden – wasn’t one that seemed likely to change the world. And yet the things that Ruth Bader Ginsburg saw here in Sweden really did end up changing the lives of millions of women.
- Here in Berlin, Germany
I was born in the year that the Berlin wall was built. Our son Marc was born in the year the Berlin wall came down. Our son Max was born in the year 2004, when Europe became one and whole again by the enlargement with the Central and Eastern European countries. I say this because for a global audience this perhaps seems to be just a bit of history, but for me it is my life.
How to organise ideas and assemble words so that the speech achieves something: bond with the audience, make sense out of the flow of events, and call to action?
With the Brexit deadline in just one month and climate change’s awareness growing and growing, great speeches are not only welcome; they are necessary. You’ll find a selection of the best speeches and quotes below.
For our French-speaking readers, je vous signale, dans le numéro de Sciences humaines du mois de mars 2019, un dossier spécial sur l’art de parler: une introduction générale à cette discipline riche de 25 siècles et un rappel de son importance et de son intérêt, à l’heure où elle revient dans les programmes scolaires.
Logos, pathos and ethos combined
Ladies and gentlemen, I have five grandchildren. Four of them are in primary school. The youngest is only one year old.
Perhaps that’s why the following story struck such a particular chord. I was reading a BBC article about the recent climate demonstrations here in Belgium. Groups of primary schoolchildren were marching with their grandparents. One child held up a hand-written sign. It said: “2080: what are polar bears?”
Dear speech-fans and -friends,
With the Brexit deadline in just two months and no deal voted yet,
with our planet hotter than ever, science to make it clear and more and more people mobilising,
and with the crucial European elections in just four months,
there’s a sense of urgency in the speeches delivered this past month.
Edward R. Murrow’s words – introducing Churchill’s impact at another time of urgency in our history - come to mind:
“Now the hour had come for him to mobilize the English language, and send it into battle, a spearhead of hope for Britain and the world”.
You’ll find sharp spearheads below.
Read them, urgently!
Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope’.
But I don’t want your hope.
I don’t want you to be hopeful.
I want you to panic.
I want you to feel the fear I feel every day.
And then I want you to act.
I want you to act as if you were in a crisis.
I want you to act as if the house was on fire. Because it is.
Urgency and leadership
It is 16 January today. We are only 10 weeks away from the end of March, the moment when the UK has chosen to become a third country.
And today, 10 weeks away, the risk of a no deal has never been so high.
Our resolution is to avoid such a scenario, but we also have a responsibility. That is why, we are intensifying our efforts on our side to deal with this scenario.
Logos, pathos, and ethos
Those habits of reasoned debate which you teach are exactly what Europe needs today.
Democracy has always been about feelings, as well as reason. If we forget about feeling, our politics becomes bloodless, detached from the lives of the very people it should serve. But if we forget about reason, we lose our ability to find the solutions that make their lives better.
Happy New Year!
That 2019 will be happy is by no means a foregone conclusion. Stakes are high (for our non-European readers, 2019 will see European elections resulting in a new European Parliament and a new European Commission; and one of our Member States will decide how to leave the Union) and challenges are huge, as this past month selection shows once again: populism and the defense of our fundamental values, climate change (with the COP 24 speeches), terrorism and sexual violence (with the Nobel peace prize lectures). All call for speeches that identify clearly the issue, show progress and give hope, and empower in strong calls for action. This selection of speeches and quotes shines a spotlight on a few such speeches.
So, to start well this new year, enjoy the reading below and, more than ever :
Call for action
(English below) Vos Majestés, Distingués membres du Comité Nobel, Mesdames et Messieurs, Amis de la paix,
Le défi est clair. Il est à notre portée.
Pour les Sarah, pour les femmes, les hommes et les enfants du Congo, je vous lance un appel urgent de ne pas seulement nous remettre le Prix Nobel de la Paix mais de vous mettre debout et de dire ensemble et à haute voix : « La violence en RDC, c’est assez ! Trop c’est trop ! La paix maintenant ! »
Your Majesties, Distinguished Members of the Nobel Committee, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends of peace,
The challenge is clear. It is within our reach.
For all Sarahs, for all women, for all men and children of Congo, I call upon you not only to award this Nobel Peace Prize to my country’s people, but to stand up and together say loudly: “The violence in the DRC, it’s enough! Enough is enough! Peace, now!”
Thank you very much for this honour, but the fact remains that the only prize in the world that can restore our dignity is justice and the prosecution of criminals.
Today is a special day for me.
It is the day when good has triumphed over evil,
the day when humanity defeated terrorism,
the day that the children and women who have suffered persecution have triumphed over the perpetrators of these crimes.
If credibility is of the essence, get ready to address the challenge raised by this teenager
You’re never too small to make a difference.
In politics, bridges are more important than walls, though we know how much easier and faster it is to raise a wall, than to build a bridge.