On May 4th, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivered his Future of Europe Lecture at the University of Leuven. The lecture took place in the framework of the Wilfried Martens Fund.
Speaking to an audience of students and guests, President Juncker discussed the most salient political topics of today – Greece, unemployment, migration and the Ukraine crisis – but began his lecture with a personal reflection on his family and the history of European integration. He emphasized that above all, the European Union is a project of peace.
On migration, Juncker called for a better legal framework for migration. Europe needs to leave the door slightly ajar so people won't risk their lives by trying to reach Europe over sea. President Juncker also unequivocally called for stronger development aid towards Africa. "What purpose does Europe serve if we do not share our successes and aspirations", he asked the audience. He also focused on unemployment, and youth unemployment in particular, commenting that Europe should be at the service of an unemployment strategy in order to avoid “losing an entire generation”.
Turning to the crisis in Ukraine, Juncker stressed the importance of Russia for peace on the European continent and said that Europe needs to re-establish a normal dialogue with the Russian government. Finally, Juncker was very clear about Greece and underlined the need for solidary with the Greek people. "A Grexit is not an option", he stressed, “if we accept that Greece leaves the zone of prosperity that is the Eurozone, others would quickly take advantage to empty the Eurozone of what it is supposed to be”.
Before Juncker started his Future of Europe Lecture, two awards were granted. The Wilfried Martens Thesis Prize 2015 was given to Andreas Boogaerts, an alumnus of the KU Leuven, for his thesis on EU sanction policy in the context of the Arab uprising. Serbian student Gavrilo Nikolic won the Wilfried Martens Scholarship 2015-2016 to enroll in the Advanced Masters programme in European Politics and Policies (MEPP) at the KU Leuven.
The Wilfried Martens Fund aims to conserve, spread and deepen Wilfried Martens’ European political heritage and ideas, by supporting education and research about the themes that were dear to Wilfried Martens during his European political career, such as the EU’s institutional architecture, its neighbourhood policy and the development of European parties and foundations.
Donations can be directly submitted to the account of the ‘KU Leuven Wilfried Martens Fund’ (IBAN: BE45 7340 1941 7789 – BIC: KREDBEBB) with the address ‘KU Leuven, Oude Markt 13, 3000 Leuven’, while mentioning 400/0011/02405.