Foreword by the President
François Bayrou

The world is at a turning point. Never since the end of the Cold War has the future seemed so dark and dangerous. War has returned to our continent, the world’s major powers seeking to control technology and whole economies, the calamitous effects of climate change are manifest, the global order is beset with ever-growing threats. The tight-knit alliance of the medium powers of Europe, joined in political integration, provides the only effective protection for our fellow citizens and for future generations.

The European Union was built piece by piece from the rubble of the Second World War, a disaster so terrible and so unprecedented in previous centuries and millennia that our continent was almost unable to recover.

Strong pioneering spirits – Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Alcide De Gasperi, Konrad Adenauer, Paul-Henri Spaak and, more recently, Altiero Spinelli, Jacques Delors and Bronislaw Geremek – brought the peoples of Europe together because they were convinced that helping each other, solidarity and shared interests would triumph over old feuds. We are their heirs and must champion this heritage. In shaping the Europe of tomorrow, it is our duty to show the same sense of history.

The very fabric of our democracies is being called into question by a series of violent upheavals. Russia’s war on Ukraine is a crime against history. Driven by his desire to subjugate Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has broken a taboo and taken the senseless risk of wreaking havoc by breaching the bedrock of international law and one of the EU’s founding principles: the intangibility of national borders. His rule has all the hallmarks of the most cynical dictatorship as he strikes down any who dare oppose him. In perpetrating the no less cynical terrorist attack of 7 October, Hamas succeeded in setting the Middle East ablaze, with considerable loss of life and dire consequences for international security. In China, demographic collapse is being used as a pretext for economic, technological and commercial overexpansion and for its imperialist threats directed at Taiwan. Locked in a divisive standoff pitting one side of public opinion against the other, the United States threatens to return to brutal technological domination and turning its back on its allies, particularly those in Europe. 

 “All over the world, democraty is under attack, undermined by authoritarianism”

This new era is affecting European society. The resulting inflation crisis is destabilising the already weakened social equilibrium. The far right is on the brink of power in many countries, adding fuel to our darkest fears. Traditional parties are falling apart and the dark clouds of populism are threatening democracies caught up in a crisis of representation.

Since our party was created, twenty years ago, the list of challenges has grown longer. And yet we have always been pragmatic in adapting our way of thinking. We have drawn lessons from the global financial crisis that had such a dramatic impact on so many citizens and highlighted Europe’s growing economic inequality. Similarly, we have learned from the pandemic and from controversies related to our borders. These challenges have revealed weaknesses such as our perilous dependence upon manufacturing centres beyond our control.

2024 will therefore be a pivotal year. For the first time, we are not going into the European elections on the defensive. No-one can convincingly make the case that the role of the European Union in defending who we are and what we hold dear is anything less than vital.

On the eve of the 2024 European elections, we must reaffirm the crucial importance of European political integration. Reinventing Europe is an arduous task that requires unshakable will, and that is our foremost quality. We must shape the future of Europe so that justice, unity and common values shine through.

We the Democrats are determined to promote inclusiveness, solidarity and prosperity through dialogue with all European citizens. Their concerns will be the focus of our policies because we value them as partners in power. Our humanist, deeply pro-European voice must reach all who share our democratic values: the rule of law, respect for fundamental rights, identity and diversity, the promotion of social progress, inclusion, and solidarity between regions, peoples and generations.

We are one family. From Rome to Rotterdam, from Brno to Bilbao, from Ljubljana to Larnaca, from Venice to Vilnius, from Madeira to Munich, and from Strasbourg to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, we are all driven by reason and faith in building a European Union whose very existence and values are now under threat. We know full well that Europe can only survive and thrive if it is “united in diversity”. Europe can and must, even beyond its borders, become a beacon of peace and determination in this troubled world.