Sicilian Regional Government Vice President Gaetano Armao and Sicilian students from Pantelleria "Border of Europe" projecting the future of the EU


SIcilian regional Government Vice President and Coordinator of the Commission for European and International Affairs of the Conference of Regions and Autonomous Provinces, Gaetano Armao introduced - connected in videoconference from "Vincenzo Almanza" Institute in Pantelleria (Sicily) - #madebycitizen4cohesion a structured dialogue within the "Conference on the Future of Europe" en event that involved schools, from all over Italy (from Sicily to Valle D'Aosta and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, through Molise, Emilia-Romagna, etc.).

Vice President of the Regional Government of Sicily, Gaetano Armao, said: We are here today to bear witness from the “Borders of Europe”. The ideal journey from Africa to the north has its first border here, in the heart of the Mediterranean. Pantelleria is an island that, I would remind the young people connected by videoconference from the rest of Italy, is almost closer to Africa than it is to Sicily, of which it is part, and to Italy too.

In places like this, Europe measures its roots with its history and its challenges because Pantelleria on the one hand is anchored to the values of Christianity, culture and European civilization, but it is also a land of exchange with other cultures that surround the Mediterranean. The population of this island lives at the same time the Europe and the Mediterranean and it is no coincidence that most of the neighborhoods here have an Arabic name. Being a frontier land does not mean losing one's identity, on the contrary, the opposite is true here.

For its own part, however, Europe must strive to be more inclusive. That is why today we are focusing on opening up Europe to the citizen, dreaming of a New Europe in which everyone can design their own future and, all together, that of the entire Union. This is precisely the meaning of the "Conference on the Future of Europe" which opened a few months ago in Brussels and which sees us gathered today to make our contribution.

Today we are asking ourselves, what is the Europe? It is not an easy question and it is time to give new answers. This will be possible only if we start from what Europe has offered us. Do you know that Europe has provided great benefits? You are the grandchildren of the last Europeans who saw war. This is because there has been no war on our continent for 70 years. You have studied it in your schooling, Europe was the place where there were absolutely more fratricidal wars... the Hundred Years' War, the two world wars started from Europe involving the entire globe, but thanks to the foundation of the Union, Europe has become an agent of peace and civilization, a propagator of democratic values.

Europe not only has an extraordinary history and tradition but also represents our future, let's talk about green, digital... Sicily has invested, in the last three years, 300 million euros for digital infrastructure, representing today the most digitally endowed region in the Mediterranean and this allows you, from your home, to communicate with the rest of the world, to buy and sell products, to build a company, to reference and increase your culture as well as freely and quickly spread your thoughts. Today you can do things that were absolutely unimaginable even only a few years ago, because digital technology, thanks to Europe, has become an infrastructure within everyone's reach.

Thanks to Europe, in particular, we are now able to support territorial continuity, which is related to the issue of insularity. An issue that is very close to my mind and for whose definitive solution I have been working for a long time. A condition, that of insularity, which becomes even more urgent in places like Pantelleria, which is an island within an island, a condition that must be recognized because it must be ensured that through financial interventions and tax benefits we can overcome the disadvantages due to the territorial discontinuity with the mainland.

The "New Europe", which will emerge from this building project, must necessarily be a prospect of strengthening your capacities, in particular the ability to compete and be part of a winning team for its culture, its values of freedom and Democracy. Finally, as a representative of the European Committee of the Regions, I would like to remind you that major investments are planned, supported by the NextGenerationEU programme, and if they will be well deployed, they will allow your generation, which is today the eyes, the soul and the imagination of this country, to see the project of the founding fathers of Europe finally implemented.

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