Michael D Higgins warns of ‘negative forces’ ahead of elections

President calls on voters in the European elections to rediscover founding values of EU

President Michael D Higgins said the future of the EU needs a “vibrant political debate” as to the best path forward.

President Michael D Higgins said the future of the EU needs a “vibrant political debate” as to the best path forward.

 

President Michael D Higgins has warned of “negative social forces” sowing uncertainty across the Continent, and called on voters in the European elections to seize the opportunity to rediscover the founding values of the European Union.

Voters will go to the polls to elect the Republic’s next MEPs on May 24th. Mr Higgins, in a statement issued to the media on Wednesday, said the EU was facing serious challenges due to Brexit and other matters.

“Our European Union today faces new, serious challenges and we must seize the opportunities that exist – including the European elections – to debate with energy, and with respect, the future shape of the European Union,” he said.

“In the shadow of Brexit and of some negative social forces which seek to exploit real concerns, much uncertainty has been created across Europe.

“We Europeans are now invited in this election year to define, through deliberation and a values-driven debate, the forms of union and the outlines of the European Union that we seek.”

Mr Higgins said the future of the EU needs a “vibrant political debate” as to the best path forward.

“In particular, the voices of young people, and of all those who feel marginalised or excluded, must be heard,” he said.

“Europe can use its potential to address the major challenges of our world, including achieving sustainability, making a real and urgent commitment to addressing the issues of climate change and global poverty.

“Today, as they are deciding on how to vote, I call on all Europeans to engage actively in respectful debate in the pursuit of the great idea of a peaceful, integrated and inclusive Europe; one that will seek to be an exemplary region in the world, for other regions to follow.

“On Europe Day 2019, let us resolve to rediscover, deepen, re-define and build on the founding values of the European Union. Let us use our voices and our votes to reconnect the union to the hopes of millions of Europeans.”

The intervention is Mr Higgins’ second in as many months on the EU. During a speech at UCD at the end of March, he called for changes in the European institutions and said the “narrow version of an economic union” had left “European unity still reeling”.

Mr Higgins made frequent criticisms of the EU during his first term. He also criticised it for an economic model which had undermined the social cohesion in Europe and between member states.