Press Releases Speech by President von der Leyen at the 2023 European Capitals of Inclusion and Diversity Awards, via video message

Speech by President von der Leyen at the 2023 European Capitals of Inclusion and Diversity Awards, via video message

Distinguished Guests,
Dear mayors and representatives of local authorities,

Dear Helena Dalli,
Ladies and gentlemen.

Europe is a land of amazing cities. Places with a strong character, that you can feel at every corner and in every square. But also places where everyone feels at home. I want Europe to be like its cities. A Union where it doesn’t matter what you look like, who you love, how you pray, and where you are born. A Union of equality, where everyone enjoys the same rights, and feels welcome, at home.

In these three years, the European Commission has launched a new push for equal rights across our Union. New initiatives against racism and to foster minority rights. Strategies for LGBTIQ equality and the rights of persons with disabilities. And a renovation wave to make our cities not just greener but more accessible to all. We have done all of this, because this is what millions of Europeans demand. And in fact, we see countless regions, cities, and towns across Europe that are moving in the same direction. You are closest to citizens. You are closest to their aspirations. Our cities and regions are the engine of change in our continent. The place where identity meets inclusion.

This is why we decided to create these Awards, for European Capitals of Inclusion and Diversity. Today we will hear stories from all corners of our Union, from Portugal to Poland, from big cities to small towns. It is proof that this journey towards greater equality unites us beyond geography, beyond social background beyond political affiliation. Your stories can be an inspiration for millions of Europeans. And positive change is happening across our Union, because you are making it happen. This is why we have decided to put the spotlight on you. On your inclusivity, your innovations, your ingenuity. You are making everyone feel that they belong in your cities and regions. So you are showing the best of Europe. And today, Europe celebrates you. So congratulations to the winners, and welcome to the European Capitals of Inclusion and Diversity Awards.

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