Colóquio sobre cidadania europeia

23 de Julho, 2001

Colóquio sobre Cidadania Europeia

(Programa Europeu JUVENTUDE)

Tomar, 23.Julho.2001


  1. Welcome to Portugal
  2. First of all, I should like to welcome you all to Portugal and this beautiful town of Tomar.

    I hope you can find time to visit The Convento de Cristo one of the most beautiful portuguese monuments.

    I accepted the kind invitation to address to you about Europe, education, youth and the future.

    Let me propose some ideas in a short introduction and I hope we can go further in our discussion with your questions and your own opinions.


  3. The European Parliament (the Peoples of Europe)
  4. Let me introduce myself:

    My name is Carlos Coelho. Despite the fact I am still young (I am 41 years old) I have already more than 20 years of political activity. The first time I’ve been elected to the national parliament I was 19). Since then I was re-elected several times, I was member of the national government (at the ministry of education) and I am now Member of the European Parliament.

    At the European Parliament, I am the Chairman of a special committee to investigate the Echelon system (a global network which is able to intercept private communications all over the world and that is controlled by the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and I am also member of the Committee of Public Liberties and citizens freedoms.

    As you probably know, the main leading structure of European Union is a triangle: The Council (which represents the Member States), the Commission (which represents the common will) and the Parliament (which represents "the peoples of the States brought together in the European Community" as it is written in the Treaty of Rome, 1957.

    The European Parliament is the only Community institution that meets and deliberates in public. Our debates, opinions and resolutions are published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

    I would like to invite you to visit our web site. has now a introduction to our institution in the 11 official languages and also in the languages of the candidate countries.


  5. The European Youth
  6. People at the EU are getting older. Births are not enough to assure the renovation of generations. Statistics say each woman has to have 2,1 children, and the average in EU is much lesser.

    Fortunately, the situation in the candidate countries is different, and the enlargement will provide Europe with more young people. Any way, there is now already more than 50 million young people aged between 15 and 25. The Union has to pay attention to the needs and opinions of young people in Europe.

    Our cultures are different, we speak different languages, our traditions are different but there are some common problems among young people all over Europe.

    Young people are worried about their future, jobs and working conditions

    Young people are aware of the problems we have to face in environment

    Young people want to have greater influence and participation in society

    Young people mistrust political parties and political life

    Young people criticise the fact that Europe seems very distant and abstract to them

    Young people desire more and better quality information

    Young people are afraid of social exclusion and marginalisation

    Young people strongly criticised the education system

    You know better than I, what are, today, the main concerns of the european young people.

    And I think we have to listen carefully what young people have to say. We cannot accept the idea that our young people feel they are not involved and that they are marginalised.

    The future of our societies depends on you, and that means you have to be part of our present.


  7. Education
  8. To be European in the early years of the 21st century implies the participation in a wide multicultural space, where mobility, exchanges and dialogue between peoples, cultures and individuals will constitute powerful factors of innovation and creativity. This way, the European societies will be compelled to meet numerous and intensive changes — wich will require schools and education players to raise the standards of their students’ academic and skill competences. Quality will have to be combined with the accuracy of working methods, the critical mind will have to be complemented by practical sense; culture and science will be complementary; freedom and responsibility, efficiency and equity, citizenship rights and duties, progress and environment, autonomy, and solidarity will tend to be increasingly linked.

    Europe as an idea corresponds to the resistance against uniformity, bureaucratic centralism or the creation of a unipolar prone reality.

    In order to fins its own identity, Europe needs mobilization factors — which are now missing. It is not sufficient to speak of European citizenship, of commons actions and policies, security or balance — one should rather provide practical responses to the expectations and the urgency of consolidating a space of freedom and peace.

    Should an European school be created ? The answer is no. Instead, priority should be given to mobility conditions, to the definition of academic equivalences in the various countries and to establish the exchanges between educational institutions as a means of mutual quality improvement. By attending schools in different European countries, a young European should necessarily gain rather than lose, thereby taking advantages out of it. After all, the idea of Europe implies free circulation, which, apart from material affairs, should also cover several branches of knowledge and ideas.

    That’s why the competence for the content and the organisation of studies remains at national level. However, according the Treaty of Amsterdam, the Community "shall contribute to the development of quality education by encouraging cooperation between Member States".

    Recently, the Commission presented the eLearning iniciative which seeks mobilise the educational and cultural communities in order to speed up changes in the education and training systems for Europe’s move to a knowledge-based society. The main purpose is to adapt the EU’s education and training systems to the knowledge economy and digital culture.



    It is hardly sufficient to talk about diversity, pluralism and protection of cultural identities in a millenium old Europe with an historical past full of events, of influences and secessions, agreements and disagreements and even wars. It is essential to understand that these differences reflect themselves upon the various languages which stand out as clear examples of cultural diversity. This obviously means, that there are communication barriers between people and peoples, but is also represents the need for turning the cultural dialogue into an effort towards better mutual understanding and approximation. To fully understand a culture, one must know its language — and, through it, some of the little secrets that reveal the character and peculiarities of a people.

    Nevertheless, in a time of growing internationalization of the economy and improvement of the means of communication, it is essential to find simplified ways to communicate — thus, the outstanding role of "English passapartout" as lingua franca. However, a lingua franca might be limitative, as its use does not comprise a cultural enrichment, but rather a ready ressource to provide easier relations in a society that is more than ever cosmopolitan and internationalized. English benefits from its status as lingua franca, inevitably drawing attentions and allowing a cultural influence linked to the economical and geostrategic influences, the latter mainly from the United States. Still, both Europe and the Europeans hold in the linguistic diversity, in the many homelands that languages truly are, one of their greatest assets. Nowadays, when the concept of State-Nation is undergoing a profound change — as it happened to the eighteenth century notion of sovereignty — these realities are becoming more and more a living proof of an identity pluralism.

    Multilingualism stands, therefore, as an important stronghold of Europe — either as a demonstration of cultural pluralism or as a condition of mutual enrichment of the European citizens. The linguistic diversity ought, thus, to be kept and protected in an effective and intelligent way: not in a restrictive way, through the creation of untenable simultaneous translation services at all the European institutions, but, instead, through the support of linguistic exchanges and the teaching of foreign languages.

    It should be stressed that the foreign language study allows not only a better command of the mother tongue (through translations exercises), but also a greater knowledge of the cultural, historical or geographical realities related to the area where the studied language is spoken.

    Multilingualism and multiculturalism are, thus, closely intertwined. It is a matter of realizing that a culture can only profit from its relations with other cultures, and its ability to give and take. In the case of the Portuguese language, we are referring ourselves to a linguistic community of almost 200 million speakers with very different cultural backgrounds.


  9. Welcome to Europe

I support the idea and the project of the enlargement of the European Union. The peace in our continent, and the development of our societies, our peoples and our economies are in favour of that project.

And for Portugal the new members should be seen as allies in a common fight. Portugal is not a big country and the most part of candidates are also not big countries. We don’t want an Union where only big countries can decide. Some of the problems we faced in Nice were because that. Because, for the first time, in the History of our Union we saw big countries against the smaller ones.

Portugal is not also one of the most developed and riches countries. That means we want to support and to reinforce the social and economic cohesion. I believe all candidate countries shall also support that purpose. We don’t want to build a Community where differences between peoples and States will be bigger. We want to bring people and economies together. We want that the development of our societies and economies put us closer the most developed countries in Europe.

I think we can learn sharing our experiences. I hope we can build-up a better Union. With more countries, more respect for the environment, more respect between the Member States, more and better economic e social cohesion and with the participation of the young people.

Thank you very much