Professor Herman Van Rompuy
Mr Vice-chancellor, madam rector, professors, dear students, ladies and gentlemen,
It is really an honour to celebrate this honorary doctorate from the University of St Andrews. My own alma mater is only a little bit younger than St Andrews. The catholic university of Leuven was founded in 1425 only.
We share something in common: history.
I’m honoured personally. And I thank you Catherine for your very, very kind words. It is a tribute to my work as President of the European Council during turbulent times but I consider it even more as a tribute to the European idea. The European Community, the European Union, brought us reconciliation, peace and prosperity. We turned the page of history and started a new chapter. It was a guarantee for former fascist and communist countries that democracy was there forever, and that the times of yesterday would never, never come back.
I served a great cause, and I am proud to have had this opportunity.
The people of Europe share a unique civilisation based on key values of liberty, responsibility and solidarity. Compared to the past, we are now more faithful to our ideals.
The Union, of course, is manmade. It must be reinvented constantly, and its functioning subject to ongoing improvement. It is too much a space, and not enough a place, a home. Our nation states are more a place, but they lack the space, and the openness on the world.
St Andrews is part of our great European culture, and helped to shape it.
Our mission – your mission – is not over yet.