EPP Congress in Helsinki Opening Speech

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear European Friends,

This morning as I was walking to the City Hall I contemplated my words to you. My head was filled with grand questions about the future of Europe, our joint mission for defending the European values and the future of democracy. In my thoughts, I stumbled on a pot hole. A concrete reminder of where my focus as a Mayor is – without a well-functioning everyday life there is no room for profound thoughts.

I’m always happy to welcome important guests to Helsinki. It feels even more special today, when I have the honor of welcoming my own European party family, team EPP, to the city. Dear friends, you are most welcome.

The EPP has always been in politics to create future-oriented, responsible foundation for Europe. In these times, when our values are under constant attack this role is more important than ever. I’m a firm believer in societies build on trust. Our ability to create and sustain trust measures our value to our people.

In a time on intense urbanization people come together in cities. Cities bring together talent, innovation, creativity and community. They allow for social and economic mobility. 75% of the European population live in cities. More people means more possibilities, but also many challenges. Cities are at the core of the global transformation. Our close relationship with our people leaves us no choice.

The former Mayor of New York, Fiorello LaGuardia, once said “There is no Democratic or Republican way of cleaning the streets”. This sentence feels especially topical today. The EPP has always been able to create long-term, deep-rooted agendas, that overcome the fluctuations of the political cycles. My message to you is that here lies also our opportunity for future success – put these values into practice in cities. The principle of subsidiarity should be build-in in everything we do. Let’s do more of the things that really matter to the people. By creating a better urban life for all we also allow the European values to be defended and forwarded. In short – let’s fix the metaphorical potholes in our cities in order to create more room for the European democracy.

Dear friends and colleagues in EPP,

Helsinki’s plan is to be the most functional city in the world. Creating the best possible conditions for everyday urban life is at the core of everything we do. At the same time we stand tall in defending the European values – on a philosophical and practical level. Our everyday life is a testament to the fact that these issues are interconnected. By winning peoples’ minds we also win their hearts.

You are most welcome to Helsinki – a city that has had a Mayor from the EPP family since the 1960’s. I trust you’ll make the best possible decisions for us and the Europe of 2020 and beyond.