In 2005, Mary Robinson, former President of the Irish Republic and High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations, delivered the fifth Europe Lecture. She spoke about 'self-reflection in the European Union' and was introduced by Wim Kok.
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Mary Robinson is a former president of the Republic of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and, in 2013, remains Irelands' most popular president to date. She left office a month before her tenure ended to become High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations from 1997 to 2002. Mary Robinson is rumoured to have been considered for the position of president of the European Council. She is a member of The Elders.
I am deeply conscious of the honour of delivering this fifth Europe Lecture, and that I do so on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome. If we were thinking of that anniversary in human terms, it could coincide with a mid-life crisis. And given the organic development of the European project, perhaps we should recognise the potential analogy. A key element, after all, has been that capacity for organic growth.
And yet, having the capacity for such development does not guarantee that it will happen or that it will continue. There must be a dynamic which triggers it from within. So let us pause and reflect on this institutional Europe which, I believe, is entering the most critical and challenging phase in its development.