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Promoting fundamental rights

Can you imagine an EU without its core values?

What would the European Union look like without peace, freedom, democracy and solidarity? This is one of the questions Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, asked the European Movement during our recent conversation. Many of us have forgotten the reason the EU was built in the first place and take for granted the daily benefits that it brings. But Mr. Mimica has not: peace, freedom, democracy and solidarity “are the reason the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012,” he said. “When I travel across the world I understand that they are the main products that we export, and I am proud of it,” Mr. Mimica added.

The 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaty – which we will celebrate in a bit over a month – is a good opportunity to look back at the progress we have made and what remains to be done. It is hard to imagine where we will be 60 years from now, but Mr. Mimica explained that estimates show that “Europe will have around 5 percent of the world population and 10 to 15 percent of the global GDP,” which is “far from where we were at the start of last century.” But, more importantly than that is the historical moment in which the EU was established: on the ashes of the Second World War. What we now call the EU was built to “unite European countries economically and politically in order to secure lasting peace.” But what we need now, according to Mr. Mimica, is for politicians to think of the common benefits in the long term instead of the short term. It is only by being united that “we will secure the sustainable success of our founding fathers,” said Mr. Mimica.

During our conversation with Mr. Mimica, we also talked about the importance of fighting poverty and the crucial role it plays in International Cooperation and Development policies. The Commissioner went on to explain the link between development, human rights, good governance and security: human rights and development “have the same objective,” to “improve wellbeing and freedom.” Human rights also goes hand in hand with good governance, given that “without a government and institutions with capacity to serve the public interest, human rights cannot be upheld and poverty and inequality will continue to persist. Mr. Mimica concluded by saying that without peace and security it is impossible to have sustainable development.

The discussion with Mr. Mimica gives a soupçon of the challenges ahead: poverty, populism and making sure we stand up for our values. It is important to remember why the Union was created but now it is up to us to decide on the path that we want it to take.

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