Education and innovation key to prosperity, says EU body


THE FUTURE prosperity of Europe depends on the level of education and innovativeness of its citizens. Education, research and innovation will be pivotal in maintaining a competitive and strong Europe in an ever more global environment, the leaders of EU body Atomium Culture have said.

Former French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing is now honorary president of Atomium Culture. He is meeting its president, Michelangelo Baracchi Bonvicini, and former Spanish prime minister and chairman of the advisory board, Felipe González-Márquez, today to deliver a statement on the future of Europe.

“Europe is not in decline. Europe has recently initiated its new course and, pressed by the crisis, is realistically admitting its problems and looking for possible solutions,” the three said in the statement which was distributed to EU heads of government and the European institutions.

Europeans must remember their shared heritage as the cradle of democracy, the birthplace of the rule of law, the source of ideas associated with the Enlightenment, the birth of liberalism and the birth of empirical science.

“And Europe has been, and is, an exceptional centre for culture and creation.”

Europeans needed to remember that these accomplishments “do not belong only to the past but are ever-present as fundamental features of today’s Europe”, the three declared in their statement.

“Those who speak of the irreversible decline of Europe chose not to consider these fundamental factors, misinterpreting a crisis and a problem of governance for decline.”

The current economic crisis had generated a negative view and, while the crisis was real, in the face of the financial difficulties and the current 24 million Europeans unemployed, nonetheless, “we have a duty to be optimistic”, they said. “Jean Monnet said that ‘People only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognise necessity when a crisis is upon them.’ This is why Europe could leave this crisis strengthened.”

The potential is there to accomplish this, they said aided by “the extraordinary capacity of Europeans to educate, research and innovate”.

“The quality of education, research and innovation in Europe represents one of the main advantages of our continent.”