The European Council 2011
The world is changing rapidly and so is Europe's place within it. Slow economic and demographic global trends are accelerating, becoming more visible and concrete, confronting us with new challenges.
In facing them, we can draw confidence from the political will we mustered in the past year: a series of major decisions to safeguard our currency and our prosperity, a relentless focus on creating jobs and growth, standing up for our values in the world. We can draw confidence, too, from the courage and resilience which the Europeans have shown in a period where hardship and austerity take their toll: young people urging for change, graduates starting businesses, citizens showing solidarity and a sense of the public good.
In 2012, the European Council will continue to deal with the urgent and the important, acting in a spirit of compromise and responsibility. The stakes are high. The Union’s more than 500 million citizens live on the most prosperous and social, the most free and secure continent on earth. The decisions taken by political leaders and by Europeans themselves will determine our future prosperity - and indeed the fate of our social and economic model. A civilisation of human dignity, a continent of unity in diversity.
The key for the future is to harness the forces of change. It is the ultimate raison d’être of this institution. In view of the sixty year old history of the Union’s unique endeavour – and whichever path we will find or forge – I am confident that, in dealing with the inner tensions and the outer pressure, Europe will continue to reinvent itself, for the better.
Herman Van Rompuy