Herman Van Rompuy's introductory speech to the Leuven Conference of Professor Jürgen Habermas on April 26, 2013:
"Introductory Speech" [pdf]
"... I was so pleased to have the opportunity to meet you in my current capacity, last September. You came to me, with one main question – a crucial one. You had been following closely the political response to the crisis, regularly commenting on it, and you wanted to know: "Are European leaders aware that they face historic choices today?"
My answer to you then was (and still is): Yes they do. Maybe not all leaders were fully aware of their role all-of-the-time, and each had his own concerns, but jointly they were (and still are) capable of taking big decisions, which later will be seen as of historical importance. [......]
You also told me how you worried about countries tempted to go it alone, including your own country Germany. What left me the most lasting impression was the emotion you shared when talking about your country. I could suddenly see you as young man, aged fifteen when the Second World War ended, and a life from then on dedicated to a cause. To bring more ethics into politics…
This deep motif was bound to bring Europe on your path. For no country more than for your own, has Europe been such a source of redemption. A new beginning, a promise. For me also, it has been the most inspiring idea. Reconciliation and togetherness. From "us versus they" to "You and me". Ich und Du."
Herman Van Rompuy is President of the European Council.