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Address by His Majesty the King of the Belgians on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the European Parliament, Castle of Laeken

28 June 2023

Madam President,
Mr Prime Minister,
Honourable guests,

Queen Mathilde and I are delighted to receive you here for the 70th anniversary of the European Parliament.

The European Parliament at 70 is a confident institution. It has proven a stark defender of the Rule of Law, fundamental rights and democratic freedoms; these values that guarantee a peaceful and prosperous Union.

The European Parliament has also proven it can deliver in times of crisis. And today, as we celebrate the happy occasion that is this anniversary, we are faced with a serious crisis; a crisis that no one in Europe expected to witness so closely anymore.

A heinous war is raging on our continent. The full impact of this conflict poses a generational challenge and it is our task to respond by increasing resilience at home, in the democratic societies across our Union. This task, which is a collective one, is in full swing. It will require careful stewardship for many years to come.

I am deeply convinced that, in going forward, our longstanding parliamentary democracy will prove a great asset in which the European Parliament has a unique role to play. It is the institution par excellence that can speak on behalf of citizens in their capacity of Europeans. Your hemicycle is a European stage, in which minorities -and in Europe we are all minorities- come together to debate and persuade each other.

The European Parliament has also shown itself a staunch supporter of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Rada. Your voice, your debates, and indeed your parliamentary diplomacy carries thus far beyond the hemicycle.

Together with the federal government and the Brussels capital region, we are proud to host you. We are impressed with the parliamentary space which has been developed in Brussels throughout the years and that reaches out to the entire continent and beyond.

In six months' time, our country will take over the reins of Europe for the 13th time, when it assumes the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. Belgium will pursue its policy of strengthening the European edifice in the face of the crises that surround it, and which sometimes invite themselves into its midst.

If Europe is to maintain its momentum, it must be capable of developing bold policies in the energy and industrial fields, as well as in the military and commercial spheres, to make our continent even more secure and independent. We're going to do our utmost to contribute to this.

Finally, in less than a year, European elections will take place. More than ever, national themes will be European themes, and vice versa; from resilience to jobs, competitiveness and tackling the digital and green transitions. I wish you good fortune in what announces itself as seminal elections.

Happy anniversary!