Dear speech-fans and -friends, 

The debate on the future of Europe is in full swing with one Member State leaving the European Union in just one year, European elections coming up shortly after, in May 2019, and the next multi-annual financial framework (Which priorities? How much money?) currently discussed.

Different views, different speakers, all mobilising rhetorical tools to serve their vision and rally support.

See this month’s selection of best quotes and speeches below and click on ‘read more’ to get the whole selection.

Best wishes,

Great speeches,

Isabelle

 

Strong opening

You had a choice today. You could have listened to a speech in the UK about a future without Europe. Or a speech in Berlin by someone who believes in Europe and wants to talk about the best way to move forward with Europe. I’m glad you’re here. 

Make it concrete, visual

The European Union is not, in my view, an unstoppable train speeding towards federalism (…).

To use a painful metaphor: the fact that the Dutch national football team won’t be competing at the next World Cup is not a reason to send a European team in 2022. The Netherlands is going to get there on its own.

Repetition

A deal is a deal. (six occurrences of this guiding principle).

Read Mark Rutte, Underpromise and overdeliver: fulfilling the promise of Europe, 2 March 2018

Egalement disponible en français

Auch auf Deutsch

 

Building your credibility

Perhaps because Portugal returned to Europe after a lengthy 48 years of dictatorship, 13 years of an anachronistic colonial war in Africa, and because we suffered the tensions of the revolutionary founding period of our democracy, Portugal fully understands that being European is not just a happenstance of geography or history. More than a single currency, more than a single market, Europe is a community first and foremost of values.

Watch Antonio Costa, Future of Europe, 14 March 2018, available in 7 languages

 

We’re all better off when we have confidence in each other. Because that lets us choose the solutions that work for us all. But it takes effort to build that sort of confidence. And it means we need to act together, not unilaterally. It needs the global rules and institutions that we’ve built up so carefully, piece by piece, over seventy years, ever since the last time that mistrust between nations tore our world apart.

In Europe, we understand that very well indeed. Because the whole history of the European Union has been a story of building trust between our nations. It's been a story of creating a Union of law, where the rules are the same for everyone, no matter where they’re from. And that has allowed Europe to prosper and succeed.

That’s why we in Europe are absolutely committed to a world that makes trade fair as well as free. And we will do all it takes – as I'm sure will others around the world – to defend the rule of law and global institutions that ensures the prosperity our global economy brings.

Read Margrethe Vestager, The importance of being open – and fair, Harvard University, 2 March 2018

 

Building a rapport with the audience

It's a particular pleasure for me to see that so many people here in the US take a genuine interest in the future of Europe. So let me say at once – that feeling is mutual. Europe and America do best when we work together. When you walk the Freedom Trail here in Boston – and hear the stories of the American Revolution – you can't help noticing that this nation was built on values that we share. Values of freedom, and fair treatment, and democracy, and the rule of law.

And in today's very complex and challenging world, we should be building on that shared background, to help us meet our challenges together. Not trying to build barriers at each other’s expense.

Read Margrethe Vestager, The importance of being open – and fair, Harvard University, 2 March 2018

 

I want to, first and foremost, wish BusinessEurope a very happy birthday. Certainly from my own experience, I can tell you that this is when life really gets going, at 60. With the European economy expanding strongly, I can say with confidence that your best days are ahead.

The main source of my respect for you is that — at the end of the day — businesses, both large and small, hold the key to the success of the European economy. You are on the front-lines of making Europe the workshop of a changing world economy. Politicians do not create jobs, generate wealth or adapt to technological revolutions; enterprises and employees do, working hard each day in a global market place that does not tolerate complacency or waste.

Read Donald Tusk, BusinessEurope 60th anniversary, 1 March 2018

 

Whom do you quote in a speech to the European Parliament plenary?

The challenges that lie ahead are demanding. But whenever we doubt our ability to overcome them by working together, we must remember the words of Simone Veil, first President of the directly-elected European Parliament: «Je suis, je reste toujours optimiste. La vie m’a appris qu’avec le temps, le progrès l’emporte toujours. C’est long, c’est lent, mais en définitif, je fais confiance.» 

Watch Antonio Costa, Future of Europe, 14 March 2018, available in 7 languages

 

Whom do you quote when you address the Académie française on ‘French as a world-language’ day?

Gabriel Faye, Salah Stetie, Edouard Glissant, Ali Zamir, Heinrich Heine, Paul Celan, L’abbé Gregoire, Assia Djebar, Abdou Diouf, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, le combat des Québécois, des Belges, des Suisses, des Luxembourgeois, pour porter haut le français, Charlemagne, Louis XII, François 1er, Du Bellay, Louise Labe, Jean Rouaud, Leïla Slimani, Les Ecrits Coruscants D’ahmadou Kourouma, Driss Chraïbi, François Cheng, Milan Kundera, Hampâte Bâ, Aimé Cesaire, Nimrod, Erik Orsenna, Noël Corbin, Racine, Fatou Diome, Victor Hugo, Umberto Eco, Dany Laferriere, Maryse Conde, Nathacha Appanah, Alain Mabanckou, Gaston Miron, Cornelius Castoriadis, Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, Honoré De Balzac, Hampate Ba, Alexandre Dumas, Nabil Ayouch, Mahi Binebine, Ivan Tourgueniev, Leonardo Sciacia, Isaac Babel, Gustave Flaubert, Guy De Maupassant, Pierre Michon, Colette, Jean Giono.

To avoid looking pedantic, humility, humility, and humour at the beginning:

C’est avec beaucoup d’humilité que je viens aujourd’hui essayer dans ce lieu de vous parler de francophonie. Je dis avec beaucoup d’humilité parce que la dernière fois que j’en ai parlé c’était dans une université à Ouagadougou, peut-être certains qui étaient avec moi s’en souviendront. Et je n’ai eu absolument aucun succès (…)

and at the end :

Le français ne sera jamais une langue hégémonique, parce que c’est une langue de combat et d’intranquilité, parce qu’il continuera à être une langue de traduction et d’étymologie et parce qu’on aura beau écrire des dictionnaires, il faudra continuer à les refaire. 

Read Emmanuel Macron, Stratégie sur la langue française, 21 mars 2018

 

Contrast

We're at an age of incredible disruption and everything's going to change within years, not decades.

The way we produce, the way we live, the way we relate, the way we meet other people – everything's changing and this leads to a lot of uncertainty in our society and this is such an exciting time because this leads to so many people wanting to embrace the future – a more equal future, a better future.

But also people who fear the future so much that they believe in an image of the past – a past that was better. And they embrace the image of the past with everything that that entails.

And I think this is the big ideological confrontation of our day.

Read Frans Timmermans, International Women's Day 2018, 8 March 2018

 

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.

Read Frans Timmermans, Invigorating and Strengthening European Democracy, 5 March 2018

 

Call to action

When my grand-daughter looks back on this moment in history, I want to be able to say that we didn't just despair. But that we answered the call to action. And took concrete steps to help banish gender-based violence to the history books (). For my grand-daughter and for yours, for those who had the courage to speak out, and those who still suffer in silence – thank you for being here today, and for helping to ensure that we leave no one behind.

Read Neven Mimica, Leaving no one behind: ending violence against ALL women and girls, 12 March 2018

 

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