10th ESU Congress
‘Seniors standing up for Europe’
‘Seniors standing up for Europe’ this theme brought together over 160 men and women from 20 countries at the base of the Pirin Mountains in Sandanski on 27 and 28 September. In her opening speech, An Hermans, ESU president, thanked all those who had contributed to the many preparations for the congress: the party GERB, in particular ESU vice-president Nikolai Andreev, the Pirin Park hotel, and above all the attendees who quickly forgot the long trip to Sandanski through the beautiful and hospitable surroundings.
“Europe is at a crossroads. We need renewed objectives and a renewed policy approach to meet today’s many challenges. We seniors, who have been working towards European unification for 70 years, want to continue to put peace, democracy, prosperity and respect for the dignity of every person at the forefront of the fundamental values of our society. European unity, from east to west, from north to south, requires our full commitment in the future.”
–An Hermans during her opening speech
Election of the ESU Presidium
During the congress the attending delegates gave An Hermans as president and the twelve candidate vice-presidents their vote of confidence to lead the ESU-family as ‘Presidium’ for three years. With the subsequent election of four auditors and the appointment of Guido Dumon as general secretary and Etienne Vanderroost as treasurer, a new team has been assembled for the next three years to give a voice in the EPP and in European society to the expectations and needs of European citizens, especially the senior citizens.
Through the Sandanski Declaration: Seniors standing up for Europe-Engaging with citizens and developing a more united and democratic Unio, the congress underlines the role of citizens as active partners in policymaking and also pays tribute to the dynamic power of citizens in the history of Europe and especially 30 years ago in the fight for freedom and democracy and the fall of the Iron Curtain. (This statement is also available in German and French)
‘Demographic change: one of the key challenges confronting Europe’
ESU’s statement on the position of the new European Commission on demographic change
In a statement, the congress also expressed its confidence in the new European Commission and welcomes the fact that Dr. Ursula von der Leyen has indicated her willingness to respond to today’s challenges, including all ages. We are hopeful when reading the Mission Letter for the new Croatian commissioner Dubravka Šuica (EPP), who was appointed Vice President of the EU Commission for Democracy and Demography . (This declaration is available in German and French)
Several speakers analysed the importance of the recent European Elections. For the ESU, too, the European elections were visible throughout the functioning of our organisation. Both Jozeph Daul in his video message and Dara Murphy in his esteemed speech underlined the importance of associations in the relationship between policy makers and citizens. We hope, and will work to ensure, that the role of the ESU in the EPP family is confirmed and supported. Many policy areas and questions remain unanswered. Some perspectives have already been opened up by Mr. Rosen Jeliazkov Minister of Transport of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr. Andrey Kovatchev, Member of the European Parliament EPP/GERB and Mrs. Eva Maydell, President of the European Movement international and Member of the European Parliament EPP/GERB. It was a privilege to be able to engage in conversation with them.
Let’s open together a new chapter for Europe.
Let’s open a new chapter. That was the title of the EPP Manifesto for the elections of 2019. How to concretise and operationalize the goals ? How to include citizens in the processes? How to involve governments on the European level but also governments, all political actors and civil society at all levels? Answering these questions and put them into practice will be tackled in the coming years. The discussion was opened and introduced by two ESU vice-presidents and experienced speakers: Astrid Lulling, MEP (1965-1974 and since 1989- 2014) and Heinz Becker MEP (2011– 2019). Looking at the future: the realisation of the new program of the European Commission still has to start, the implementation of the renewed vision is not finished. There’s still a lot of work to be done.
‘Let’s stand up for Europe. Let’s stand up and share in respect and solidarity our experiences and our hopes for an inclusive Europe wherein no one is left behind.’