Dear speech-fans and friends,

On the eve of the presidential election in the United States, our attention might be taken away from Europe. Little surprise that First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech that made it to the frontpages worldwide and was already suggested as speech of the year by Vital speeches appears in this selection.

But our focus remains to shine a spotlight on the speeches that matter to Europe : this month, the best lines are to be found in some of our leaders’ confessions.

They give us food for thought and share valuable lessons for these difficult times:

‘It is an iron law that those who will be caught up in the great movements determining the course of their times always fail to recognise them in their early stages’, wrote Stefan Zweig in The world of yesterday : memoirs of a European, quoted by President of the European Council Donald Tusk, 20th anniversary of the European Policy Centre, 13 October 2016.



Confessions of a leader

When I gave my first policy statement ten years ago, as Prime Minister of Poland, I spoke for nearly three hours. One of the commentators correctly observed that had my speech been as wise as it was long, it would have been one of the best in Polish history.

Read the full speech here: Donald Tusk, 20th anniversary of the European Policy Centre, 13 October 2016


Je laisse maintenant mon discours, que des mains inspirées ont rédigé, mais en regardant la salle, je crois que je vais vous parler d'une autre façon.

Read the full speech here: Jean-Claude Juncker, Remise du prix de l'engagement européen, 6 octobre 2016

I was not originally planning to come to Strasbourg but I diverted my travel to address you at this crucial time at the invitation of President Martin Schulz on the importance of Europe’s ratification of the Paris agreement on climate change.

Watch the full speech here: Ban Ki-Moon, addressing the European Parliament on Paris agreement on climate change, 4 October 2016


By awarding the Sakharov Prize to Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar, the European Parliament asserts its support for freedom of thought as one of the fundamental human rights, a right which must be respected everywhere, with no exception.

Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar share a painful and tragic story: both of them have had to witness the atrocities committed by the so-called Islamic State, both of them have seen their closest family killed, and both of them have been denigrated to sex slaves and exploited.

Their tragic story does not end there: Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar were able to escape. They were able to escape to Europe and find protection among us. During their escape, these two young women had to overcome fear, and Lamiya Aji Bashar was heavily injured. But this did not stop them because they felt that their duty was to survive to struggle for those they left behind and to engage in another cause, the fight against impunity.

I cannot put into words the courage and the dignity they represent.

Read the full speech here: Martin Schulz, on Awarding the 2016 Sakharov Prize for Freedem of thought, 17 October 2016


I’m going to get a little serious here, because I think we can all agree that this has been a rough week in an already rough election (…)

Antithesis and repetitions

Strong men -- men who are truly role models -- don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful. People who are truly strong lift others up.  People who are truly powerful bring others together (…)

Breakdown figures into something the audience can relate to

Fortunately, New Hampshire, here’s the beauty:  We have everything we need to stop this madness (…) We have knowledge.  We have a voice.  We have a vote (…)

For anyone who might be thinking that your one vote doesn’t really matter, or that one person can’t really make a difference, consider this: Back in 2012, Barack won New Hampshire by about 40,000 votes, which sounds like a lot. But when you break that number down, the difference between winning and losing this state was only 66 votes per precinct.  Just take that in.  If 66 people each precinct had gone the other way, Barack would have lost.

Call to action

So each of you right here today could help swing an entire precinct and win this election for Hillary just by getting yourselves, your families, and your friends and neighbors out to vote.  You can do it right here.  

Read the full speech here: Michelle Obama, Campaign event in Manchester, New Hampshire, 13 October 2016


Make it real, make it tangible

The words uttered by one of the leading campaigners for Brexit and proponents of the "cake philosophy" was pure illusion: that one can have the EU cake and eat it too. To all who believe in it, I propose a simple experiment. Buy a cake, eat it, and see if it is still there on the plate.

The brutal truth is that Brexit will be a loss for all of us. There will be no cakes on the table. For anyone. There will be only salt and vinegar.

Read the full speech here: Donald Tusk, 20th anniversary of the European Policy Centre, 13 October 2016