Celebration 20th anniversary ESU: Continuing the road towards a value driven Europe
On the 6th of November 2015 the European Seniors’ Union (ESU) celebrated its 20th anniversary in the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Brussels. In this celebration the importance of improving the relationship between citizens and policy makers was highlighted. After the welcoming message of ESU President An Hermans and Luc Van den Brande, Vice-President of the CoR, Joseph Daul , President of the European People’s Party (EPP) addressed the people present through a video message: “Cooperation between the member associations and the EPP is an asset for everyone. It is an asset for the EPP, because it allows us to stay in touch with the actual demands of the citizens: women, youth, students, workers, SMEs, and of course seniors.”
Furthermore, the ESU-video ‘My Story, our Europe‘ premiered.It was done to emphasize the role that each of us has as a mirror and as leverage in the society. Many older persons witnessed where war and injustice lead to and therefore they assiduously strive to a united Europe. The movie attempts to start intergenerational dialogues with young people. “We do not want a gap between generations”, said President Hermans. “In respectful conversations between generations we want to develop common perspectives and, beyond generations, continue building a Europe that is united in solidarity and responsibility.” This was followed by a panel discussion with Eva Majewski, Honorary Chairwoman of the European Democrat Students (EDS); Lawrence Cappelle, Head of Office of the European Union of Christian Democratic Workers (EUCDW); and Marilyn Neven, Programme Manager of International IDEA Office to the EU.
Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, mentioned in her video speech that “Enabling older people to contribute more to the economy and society strengthens solidarity between generations, and helps to combat poverty and social exclusion. I will seek to promote active ageing in employment, societal participation and independent living.”
It was then time to go ‘back to the future’ with Prof. Steven Van Hecke of the Catholic University of Leuven, who gave an overview of 20 years European Seniors’ Union and the background in which this happened.
Furthermore, after some reflections about the ESU were made by Carmen Quintanilla, Vice-President of the ESU, the necessary and well-deserved tribute was paid to Dr. Bernhard Worms, President of the ESU for 12 years and succeeded by An Hermans in 2013. They were awarded by Prof. Nikolay Andreev, Vice-President of the ESU with a golden medal for their work from the Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria. President An Hermans then took the opportunity to thank all other persons who played an important role in the history of the ESU.
Dr. Bernhard Worms continued by giving some new perspectives for ‘Youth and Seniors in Europe’ and introducing a new foundation: Jugend und Senioren für Europa. President Hermans concluded by looking into the future of the ESU towards a value driven Europe.
When the technical support failed to play the European Anthem to round off the celebration, the European seniors showed their adaptability by singing the anthem a cappella.