On the 31st of March, the European Parliament launched the project My House of European History, and a couple of days before that celebrated the 60th anniversaire of the treaty of Rome at the Campidoglio. I had the pleasure to participate to this conference after winning the online contest.
A collaborative project
My House of European History is a collaborative citizen-based project aiming at remaking the European Union a cooperation and communication medium, an union based on sharing and memories, on wishes and projects for the future. Europe’s history is, after all, also ours ! And from now on you can share your own stories on the new website, as well as on your social media accounts with the hashtag #backtocitizens.
Since the 31st of March, date of the launching of the website, you can read hundreds of contribution from all over Europe. They are organized by city, contributor, date and theme. One way or another, Europe has had an impact on all of us. You can read my contribution here.
It is essentiel to remember what Europe and being European means today considering the rise of nationalism, the Brexit, or the wave of extremism spreading throughout the union. The launching of this project is a proof of love for our Europe that is more and more criticized and forgotten ; a collection of moving, beautiful, but also original and funny testimonies.
Let’s meet in Rome
A contest was organized on Facebook for the launching of the website, where anyone could share its personal story related to Europe. Three laureates were chosen : Marius Match from Romania, Kamile Baubinaite from Lithuania and myself. You can see the little video put together by the European Parliament summing up our morning here.
We arrived in Rome on the 30st, and after a day of settling in and visits in the eternal city, we met the day after around 9am in front of the Campidoglio, one of Rome’s seven hills and religious center with a temple dedicated to Jupiter, Junon and Minerva.
The conference started with the statement of the European Parliament’s Vice-President, David-Maria Sassoli, elected on the 1st of July 2014, who also is a journalist and italian politician, TV host of the 8pm news and vice president of TG1 on the italian channel Rai Uno.
The My House of European History initiative was presented, and Kamile, Marius and I were then able to deliver a speech in front of the assembly before officially launching the website by pressing the big buzzer all together. You can watch a little interview I did (in French) after giving my speech here.
Many people were there, notably Klaus Welle, the European Parliament’s general secretary, who delivered a speech encouraging us to remain united and to pursue cooperation despite the difficult times we are going through ; Philippe Duren, Robert Schuman’s nephew, one of the EU’s founding father, was also present and recited some lines from Schuman’s old speeches, a beautiful historical hommage.
Other political figures, such as Fabio Massimo Castaldo, from the Movement 5 Stelle, Marcello Di Vito, M5S’s Consigliere Portavoce, Lorenzo Cesa, Centre Union’s leader and european deputy, or Gian Paolo Meneghini, director of the European Parliament’s Information Office Directeur in Italy were also there.
Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian European Space Agency astronaut, Italian Air Force pilot and engineer also made a statement. She holds the records for longest single space flight by a woman (199 days 16 hours) and for the longest uninterrupted spaceflight of a European astronaut. She is also the first Italian woman in space and known as the first person who brewed an espresso coffee in space (very Italian!). She shared her experience as a European, and how Europe helped her make her dream come true, by emphasizing the importance of cooperation. She stated “I’m a European astronaute, being Italian is just something more.”
Many Italian students from high schools all over Italy were also able to participate to the conference, talking about the progress the Union made but also still has to do, especially regarding youth, by tackling themes such as the environment, sustainable development, or scientific and technological innovation.
Participating to this contest was an amazing opportunity and experience. Despite the different themes of each speech, every statement underlined the importance of unity and cooperation, even when this is difficult – in fact, especially when it is difficult. Sentiments of nostalgia and pride were floating around the politician figures present while a message of hope and progress for future generations was spread throughout the room.