Dear all, good afternoon to everybody. Let me first apologize for not being there with you today, but as you probably know, by coincidence I will have to open an exhibition to celebrate the new UNESCO world heritage site in Europe here in Brussels, also presenting the first results of the pilot project presented by me to share governance models among European UNESCO sites. I’d like, in a way, to share with you today some considerations on the topics, very important topics, you are discussing on. I would like to thank, first of all, New Humanity and UNESCO for this important event and my dear friend Letizia de Torre for inviting me to this prestigious debate.
We are facing, we know, a tough period for Europe and for the world. We know that as EU we are going through an interior crisis whose route would be ethic, but also, cultural and it’s important to discuss together about these issues, also in the framework of the celebration of the 20th anniversary prize for Peace Education given to Chiara Lubich, that I have had the luck to meet in my life. We need strong and soft actions to preserve EU values, which are at the basis of the European Union and thanks to which we have lived 60 years of peace and democratic progress and freedom.
As the European Parliament and in particular as the Committee on Culture and Education we are working in this direction in several ways. Let me quote just some examples. During the last plenary we approved a very important resolution: to celebrate the 20th anniversary of European Voluntary Service that involved over 100000 youth and associations inside and outside Europe. In this resolution, approved by a large majority of the European Parliament, and thus the news, these days, we state that the volunteering is an expression of solidarity, freedom, responsibility that contributes to the strenghtening of active citizenship, solidarity and personal human development and also it is an essential tool for social inclusion, for cohesion, but also, as well as training, education, intercultural dialogue, while making important contributions to the dissemination of European values and Peace Education. I strongly believe in these principles, and it was one of our personal commitments the last month, to have this text approved to relaunch the EU initiative after the dedicated European year in 2011.
We have to look forward and to give this kind of programs a stronger support. In addition, I share the Juncker proposal, recent proposal of European Solidarity Corps and I will forward for its implementation as a first step in direction of European Civil Service that many of us hope to have. I’m also firmly convinced that we have to strength our European and international mobility programs and higher education, as Erasmus+ and internationalization processes at all levels, at schools, universities and volunteers, but also, associations and youth organizations. It’s fundamental to invest in education and training in order to spread and foster values, such as, active citizenship and intercultural and interreligious dialogue. But it’s not enough for me to achieve only formal skills, as many examples of radicalized migrant young people living in Europe show.
We are aware today that without informal and non-formal places and occasions to achieve citizenship competences, through participation to associations or social activities, volunteer and also integrated CV of schools and other forms of education to human values and to experiment intercultural and interreligious dialogue, the education paths will never be complete. Europe needs to be able to also, to achieve, you know, according to 20/20 Europe a smart, inclusive and sustainable growth, as well as, to increase occupation, but this will be possible only allowing young people to access high quality educational and higher educational systems as a fundamental right and also to have this right when they are in difficult situations.
We have supported the Youth Employment Initiative with the Youth Guarantee, as well as, Europe for Citizens that is a very, very loved program, European program, that allow cities and schools to create some twinning, programs for creativity, cultural and audiovisual, as creative Europe. The Horizon 20/20 Program for the research and we fought for research also in the fields on humanities and structural funds and we will continue in these days also the New Skills Agenda for Europe. That’s a very big program for increase the participation, the active participation, on people and youth in a special way. Our common aim should be to have European citizens more aware, back to refold, able to acquire competences in Europe and outside, to fulfill the requirements, not only of the job market, but also of the society and have a more international and inclusive Europe, able to attract students and workers also from extra countries respecting their rights, in order to fill the gaps in our job system and contribute to the growth in the Union.
In the past months, a new attention has been given to culture, fortunately, as tool for dialogue and peace, also as an instrument to help in rebuilding a new image, a new narrative of Europe. And we have to continue to give culture, creativity and education, obviously, a central stage in the European Union’s policies. That’s what as a Chair of the Culture Committee I asked to the commission and what, fortunately, also my country and UNESCO say every, every day. I would like to give you two good examples. For instance, at 2018, will be the European Year for Cultural Heritage. This will be a unique occasion to contribute to promoting the role European cultural heritage and expressions, heritage - tangible and intangible, as the UNESCO convention said, as a component of a culture of diversity, intercultural dialogue and to put the cultural heritage as an important element of EU’s international dimension, building bridges and partnerships between EU and other countries.
In the next months, I will also work as a rapporteur on a new initiative launched by Mrs. Mogherini and my work will be an initiative rapport on this communication, on the new strategy for culture inside the international relationships between Europe and other countries. The cultural diplomacy based on the joint communication (appunto?) by the European Commission or European international cultural relations, which will define these policy fields for the next years. And I would really appreciate to receive also your contribution on these. You have so many experiences on this matter, I am very open to your suggestions. And one year after the Paris attack, let me remind a sentence that touched me so deeply: “The victims were our brothers, but their killers are our sons”. This is what the teachers from Saint-Denis wrote in a letter, in an open letter, after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
We must deeply reconsider different education models which co-exist in Europe. I know that in particular, Leticia di Torre, when she was in Ministry of Culture in Italy, as me in a regional government, we worked together for different models, not for multicultural models for education and neither for assimilation models, but for intercultural models. It’s very important that we share more this approach also around Europe. Only in the last months, more than 4000 young Europeans belonging to the second and third generations of migrants left for joining ISIS in Syria and Iraq. This is an issue, a challenge, also for our educational systems. In the Committee on Culture and Education we have hosted hearings and adopted some important rapports to improve the competencies for intercultural and interreligious dialogue. Also inside education systems, we have promoted roundtables and meetings with international experts from which it emerged that the most promising approach is, in fact, the intercultural dialogue. And I know that also religions can contribute to this dialogue. It’s a pedagogical model which valorizes different cultural religious identities with experimental teaching to all students of non-European foreign languages and with promotion of the training for teachers on cultural diversity and intercultural teaching.
I will remind also, finally, a proposal that I launched, together with the Parliament, to the Universities and to Ministers on Education, the Educational Corridors. This is a way to host refugee students in opening the doors of the European universities and also to contribute with internships to refugees, young people that risk to be a lost generation, around the Syria or Iraqi countries. And I’m very proud because in my country the Minister of Education created an agreement with the conference of Italian Universities and so in other countries to host, to increase these corridors. At the moment, we have many, many students inside our universities. It is a way also to create an education, to experiment solidarity, and so this education for peace. And so we have to create this public space where we can harvest the mutual knowledge and respect at different levels, so we will not contribute to give a future to Europe and to its sons. Along these ways we will continue our work in the European Parliament and I really hope to have soon another occasion to discuss with you on these fundamental topics.
I wish to all of you to enjoy your meeting and the discussion and I hope to see you very, very soon.
* European Parliament - Committee on Culture and Education