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Palabras de Su Alteza Real el Príncipe de Asturias en la Ceremonia de Clausura del 50 Aniversario del Colegio Europa

Bruselas, 18.12.2000

I

am very pleased to be in Brussels this evening to participate in the celebration of fifty years of the College of Europe. It is a great honour for my country to be involved in this academic ceremony, not least because of the role my compatriot Salvador de Madariaga played in the construction of Europe and the foundation of this College.

Moreover, it is a satisfaction to know that the name of this great Spanish European has been chosen for the College?s new research branch, the Madariaga European Foundation. A Spanish European, yes, but as it has been said, he seemed to the French to be the most French of all the Spaniards, to the English he seemed to be the most English of all the Spaniards? however he remained the most Spanish of all the Spaniards.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, to dare imagine the Europe of tomorrow must have seemed an incredible challenge. Madariaga was one of the few who accepted this challenge, by his presence at the Congress of The Hague in 1948, and soon afterwards by inaugurating a new era of education in Europe. For him, it seemed only natural that Europeans should rebuild their continent together in the quest of a better understanding of each other; and Culture was a key aspect of this process.

As my father, King Juan Carlos, said during the opening ceremony of the 45th promotion of the College of Europe:

?In the history of European integration, I believe that people are equally as important as the institutions. European integration is also the result of human relationships and exchanges of opinion. In this perspective, it is vital to place citizens at the heart of the new Europe which is being constructed?.

So for over half a century, the College of Europe has been a driving force in favour of European integration. And the focus has of course always been the citizens -the students, and their culture- their education.

Madariaga believed that a unification of Europe through education required the fulfilment of two conditions: firstly, such an education had to be based in a place where students from all over Europe could come together, and secondly these students, from many different cultures, should live together. This multicultural community is imbued with what has been famously termed ?the spirit of Bruges?.

Historically and culturally, Spain has always been an important actor on the European continent. In today?s Europe, Spain continues to play a major role in the construction of the European project, and our young people are becoming increasingly eager to discover what lies beyond their borders. This desire to participate in the construction of Europe along with their European peers is demonstrated by the large number of Spanish students who each year attend the College of Europe.

Fifty years on, some changes have occurred at the College, but the initial vision remains the same. It is indeed this very vision of a unified Europe through education that inspired the College?s Alumni to establish a research branch dedicated to enriching and deepening the debate surrounding European integration. It seems to me very important to support this new dimension of the College, particularly as the Madariaga European Foundation?s proactive participation in European affairs is directly inspired by the teaching of Madariaga himself. In this way, the Foundation has assumed the pioneering role that the College knew fifty years ago.

I understand that an appeal has recently been launched, in order to materialise the potential that this venture represents. In this context, I am pleased to learn that the region of Asturias has been the first to sponsor a research fellowship at the Foundation. I hope that many other regions and other bodies will follow their example.

By way of conclusion, it is to be hoped that with the ambition of the College of Europe and its Research Foundation, those involved in the construction of tomorrow?s Europe will indeed fulfil the vision of Salvador de Madariaga, and achieve unity through mutual understanding.

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