Dear Speech-fans and friends,

There are so many good lines and quotes in this selection that this newsletter is longer than usual – and this introduction shorter than usual.

Congratulations to all the speechwriters behind these speeches, many of whom read this newsletter every month. Congratulations and thank you.

You will find the full version of the newsletter – and much more – on:



Face the facts

Europe woke up on 24 June 2016 with a sense of disbelief. We could hardly believe that the British people had decided, in a sovereign vote, to put an end to 44 years of common history. We found it hard to grasp, a few months later, that Transatlantic relations might change as a result of the election of Donald Trump. And of course, following each terrorist attack we found it hard to believe that our countries' children could inflict irreparable harm on our soil.


Put the spotlight on hope – highlighted with repetition

But on each occasion, this sense of shock led to a common response.

Very quickly, following the British referendum, Europeans expressed their desire to continue to move forward together.

Very quickly, following the election of Mr Trump, the Union spoke out strongly to reaffirm its commitment to multilateralism and the fight against climate change.

Very quickly, following each of the attacks on our soil, in Paris, Brussels, Nice, London, Manchester, Berlin, Stockholm and Barcelona, we saw a display of solidarity between the peoples of Europe and a determination to fight terrorism side by side.

Read the full speech hereMichel Barnier, "Obbligati a crescere – l'Europa dopo Brexit", 9 November 2017

Show vision and leadership

Here is the proof that the things that unite us – our common values, our desire to be together and the benefits of being together – are stronger than anything that might divide us.


Bring clarity

We need to continue on this path without losing sight of the essential thing: the future of the Union, which is much more important than Brexit. 


Contrast the general negativity … – strengthened by more repetition –

The general mood was one of pessimism.
They told us that the Union would be divided.
They predicted victories for the populists in the Netherlands, France, Austria.
They told us that other European countries would definitely follow the British example.


… with a positive outcome

Almost a year and a half later none of that has happened.


Be memorable with counterintuitivenss

Paradoxically, Brexit has also united the 27. 


Clarify the choices at stake

These choices have consequences.

- It is not possible to be half in and half out of the single market.

- It is not possible to end the free movement of persons, while retaining the free movement of goods, services or capital by means of a generalised system of equivalences.

- It is not possible to leave the single market and continue to set the rules.

- It is not possible to leave the customs union but expect to enjoy frictionless trade with the EU.

And :

We want a united, not a uniform Europe.

And :

The United Kingdom has chosen to leave the European Union. Will it also want to distance itself from the European model? That is another matter.



There is no reason – and I repeat, no reason – why the single market should be weakened when a Member State leaves.


Whom do you quote  I?

Let us remember what Barack Obama said to the American people: ‘We are the ones we have been waiting for.' ‘Siamo quelli che stiamo aspettando'.

Read the full speech here: Michel Barnier, "Obbligati a crescere – l'Europa dopo Brexit", 9 November 2017


Whom do you quote – II?

Salamanca est indissociable de son université, université à réputation mondiale. Et son université est indissociable de la liberté intellectuelle, de ce pouvoir, qui est le vrai pouvoir, de dire non, non aux divisions, non au rejet de l'autre, non aux dictatures, qui fut exprimé, en ces lieux mêmes, avec tant d'éloquence et de courage par l'un de ses plus célèbres recteurs, l'auteur du Sentiment tragique de la vie, Miguel de Unamuno qui, 50 ans avant l'adhésion de l'Espagne à l'Union européenne, y a défendu la force de la raison et du droit dans un appel à l'unité de l'Espagne. 

Read the full speech here: Jean-Claude Juncker, Remise du doctorat honoris causa de l'Université de Salamanque, 9 November 2017


So much eloquence … Here’s a quote from this speech by Miguel de Unamuno on 12 October 1936.

If you’re about to jump to the English translation below, just read the first sentence in the original Spanish or French translation as the music gets lost into translation.

Venceréis pero no convenceréis

Vous vaincrez mais vous ne convaincrez pas.


French and English below:

Venceréis pero no convenceréis. Venceréis porque tenéis sobrada fuerza bruta, pero no convenceréis porque convencer significa persuadir. Y para persuadir necesitáis algo que os falta en esta lucha, razón y derecho.


English below:

Vous vaincrez mais vous ne convaincrez pas. Vous vaincrez parce que vous possédez une surabondance de force brutale, vous ne convaincrez pas parce que convaincre signifie persuader. Et pour persuader il vous faudrait avoir ce qui vous manque: la raison et le droit dans votre combat.


You will win, but you will not convince. You will win, because you possess more than enough brute force, but you will not convince, because to convince means to persuade. And in order to persuade you would need what you lack — reason and right in the struggle. 

Read the full speech here: Miguel de Unamuno, 12 October 1936


Whom do you quote – III?

If there are science-fiction lovers among you here today, you might be familiar with the author Ray Bradbury. He wrote the famous sci-fi novel "Fahrenheit 451" (…) I will just give you a small excerpt. He said: 

So it is finally with the robots you say you fear. Why fear something? Why not create with it? I am not afraid of robots, I am afraid of people…Any machine, any robot, is the sum total of the way we use it.

Read the full speech here: Carlos Moedas, Media on the age of artificial intelligence, 21 November 2017


Surprise your audience with a strong opening :

When I heard that there was going to be a Frans Timmermans lecture - and I was going to be the first one to deliver it – I called my wife and I said:

"I'm just checking, am I dead?"...

"No! You're still alive."

Okay then, second question: "Have I been retired and nobody told me?"...

"No! You're still there."

Then there must be something very special to have a lecture named after me, already now. 

Read the full speech here: Frans Timmermans, Inaugural Frans Timmermans Lecture, Radboud University Nijmegen, 24 November 2017


(English below)

Vor zwei Jahren, noch in meiner Zeit als deutscher Außenminister, las ich in einer unserer Tageszeitungen ein beeindruckendes Interview. Ein Mann, Mitte 50, Elektroingenieur aus der Slowakei, berichtete über seinen Anfang der 1990er Jahre gescheiterten Versuch, in den Vereinigten Staaten Fuß zu fassen. Er hatte sich bei hunderten von Firmen beworben, erfolglos, sich mit Gelegenheitsjobs über Wasser gehalten, in einer winzigen Wohnung mit anderen, Landsleuten und Schicksalsgenossen gelebt und seine Ersparnisse aufgebraucht. Schließlich gab er auf. "Niemand wollte einen Elektroingenieur aus dem ehemaligen Ostblock." Er ging zurück in seine Heimat.

Hier könnte die Erzählung enden. Doch in einem fast beiläufigen Nachsatz erfahren wir, der Mann sei zwar mittellos, aber mit der Lust, sich als Unternehmer zu versuchen, aus den USA zurückgekehrt. Der letzte Satz dieser Kurzbiografie lautete, in Ihren eigenen Worten, Herr Präsident: "In der Heimat war ich dann sehr erfolgreich, habe mich später karitativen Dingen gewidmet und bin heute Präsident. Eine seltsame Karriere."

Verehrter Herr Präsident, lieber Andrej Kiska, ich würde sagen, diese Karriere, Ihre Karriere ist vor allem eine große Lebensleistung. 

Lesen Sie die Rede auf Deutsch: Franck-Walter Steinmeier, First official visit to the Slovak Republic, 17 November 2017


Two years ago, when I was still Germany’s Foreign Minister, I read an impressive interview in one of our daily newspapers. A man, in his mid-fifties, an electrical engineer from Slovakia, talked about his failed attempt to settle in the United States in the early 1990s. He had applied to hundreds of companies, but to no avail. He had kept his head above water with casual labour, shared a tiny apartment with fellow countrymen suffering a similar fate, and had used up his savings. In the end, he gave up. "No one wanted an electrical engineer from the former Eastern bloc", he surmised. He returned to his home country.

The story might well end here. However, then we discover, almost in passing, that while he may have been penniless, he returned from the US with the desire to set up shop as an entrepreneur. Mr President, the last sentence of this short biography is – in your own words – as follows: "Back home, I was very successful. Later on, I devoted my energy to charitable projects and now I’m President. A curious career."

Mr President, Andrej Kiska, I would say that this career, your career, is, above all, a great lifetime achievement. 

Read the full speech here: Franck-Walter Steinmeier, First official visit to the Slovak Republic, 17 November 2017


The power of epideitic speeches :

99th anniversary of the end of the First World War

(English below)

Heute erinnern wir, Franzosen und Deutsche gemeinsam, an das, was hier geschah. Wir erinnern, weil jede Generation für sich aufs Neue erlernen muss, die Idee der Nation von der Ideologie des Nationalismus zu unterscheiden. Wir erinnern, weil wir nie wieder den Irrweg beschreiten wollen, auf den der Nationalismus führt: zur Repression nach innen und zur Aggression nach außen.

Wir brauchen die Erinnerung, als Mahnmal, als Gedenkstätte, als Museum – aber das allein wird nicht ausreichen. Wenn wir der Soldaten gedenken, die hier ruhen, wenn wir ihr Andenken ehren, dann tun wir das, weil ihr Sterben uns nicht ruhen lassen darf. Das wird 100 Jahre nach dem Geschehen – wenn die letzten Zeitzeugen verstorben sind und junge Menschen fragen: ‚Was hat das eigentlich mit mir zu tun?‘ – nicht einfacher. Aber es ist deshalb keinen Deut weniger wichtig. (…)

Europa! Dieses Europa, die in Frieden vereinte Europäische Union, das ist die Antwort auf die Verheerungen zweier Weltkriege.

Lesen Sie die Rede auf Deutsch: Frank Walter Steinmeier, Inauguration of the Museum Hartmannswillerkopf, 10 November 2017


(…)Today, we – French and Germans alike – are remembering together what happened in this very place. We are recalling something that each generation has to learn afresh for itself – to separate the concept of nation from the ideology of nationalism. We are remembering what happened, because we never again want to be led astray by nationalism – to repression at home and aggression towards others.

We need this remembrance, as a memorial, a monument, a museum – but that alone will not suffice. When we commemorate the soldiers who lie here, when we honour their memory, we do so because we must not forget their deaths. This task is not getting any easier, 100 years after the events, now that the last living witnesses have died and young people ask, "what has any of this to do with me?" But, for this very reason, it is not one iota less important. (…)

Europe, this Europe – the European Union united in peace – this is our response to the devastation of two World Wars.

Read the full speech here: Frank Walter Steinmeier, Inauguration of the Museum Hartmannswillerkopf, 10 November 2017


Dès le lendemain de la Grande Guerre, ce site reçut des visiteurs venus arpenter ce champ de bataille déjà légendaire pour essayer de comprendre l'horreur d'une expérience que les mots ne suffisaient pas à exprimer. La nature n'avait pas encore repris ses droits, alors. Les sapins étaient encore ces troncs calcinés, plantés sur une terre labourée par les obus. En 1921, un monument fut érigé en l'honneur du 152ème Régiment d'infanterie.

Mais à quoi bon cette mémoire-là ? A quoi bon ces pèlerinages si, dans le cœur des hommes, perdurait encore la rancœur, le nationalisme débridé, le triomphalisme rageur des uns, l'immense désir de revanche des autres ? Et à ce moment-là, ces mémoires-là en étaient encore à ce stade.

Et c'est parce qu’il s'agissait de deux mémoires concurrentes encore ennemies, qu'un autre conflit terrible fut encore possible. Parce qu'il ne suffit pas de se souvenir ! Il faut essayer d'apprendre.

Retrouvez le discours intégral ici: Emmanuel Macron, Inauguration de l’historial franco-allemand de la guerre de 14-18 du Hartmannswillerkopf, 10 novembre 2017



"This is the difference between the Netherlands and Indonesia: you have everything to lose and we have everything to gain."

Indonesian Minister (unnamed) quoted by: Frans Timmermans, Inaugural Frans Timmermans Lecture, Radboud University Nijmegen, 24 November 2017


The road from Paris is equally challenging as the road to Paris.

Read the full speech here: Maroš Šefčovič, COP 23, 11 November 2017


And the speech comes full circle

To end with Neil Gaiman, as I've started, with a wonderful quote I like a lot:

"Fairytales are more than true. Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."

Read the full speech here: Frans Timmermans, Inaugural Frans Timmermans Lecture, Radboud University Nijmegen, 24 November 2017


Weave a theme throughout the speech

It’s very moving to receive this honorary doctorate, here at Leuven University. Because in the nearly six centuries since the university was first founded, Leuven has shaped our map of the world.

Sometimes literally. Many of us have a world map on the wall that uses a technique that goes back to Gerardus Mercator – or Geert de Kremer, as he was known when he first came to Leuven as a young man around 1530.

See how this theme is woven into the whole speech here :

: Margrethe Vestager, Making globalisation work for Europeans, Honorary Doctorate Ceremony, KU Leuven, 23  November 2017


Finish on a strong call to action :

I therefore urge and encourage you to continue! Bang on every table, march on every street, speak to every decision-maker. Petition, write letters, and advocate. Speak to the hearts and minds of Europeans and to citizens of the rest of the world. Make them as aware and alert as we are that climate has no more time to wait. That the Paris Agreement has no more time to wait. That ratification happened a year ago and implementation must start now!

Thank you very much. (The end)

Read the full speech here: Maroš Šefčovič, COP 23, 11 November 2017


Alors oui, la meilleure réponse à cette mémoire partagée, à ces drames, c'est l'amitié entre l'Allemagne et la France. Ce sont ces ponts bâtis entre les femmes et les hommes, entre les familles, entre les jeunesses ; la meilleure réponse, c'est l'Europe, notre Europe (...).

Nous le devons à notre histoire, nous le devons à nos morts, mais nous le devons surtout, cher Frank-Walter, à notre jeunesse. (Fin)

Retrouvez le discours intégral ici: Emmanuel Macron, Inauguration de l’historial franco-allemand de la guerre de 14-18 du Hartmannswillerkopf, 10 novembre 2017



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