60 YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP, FREEDOM… AND FOOTBALL
On 15 December 1995, a young man called Jean-Marc Bosman changed the course of European football forever. Unable to relocate from a Belgian to a French football club due to transfer restrictions, he brought his case to the European Court of Justice and won. The landmark ruling was to prove a complete game-changer.
Bosman sued the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) for breaching the 1957 Treaty of Rome which enshrines freedom of movement within the European Community, now the European Union. It led to the European Court of Justice Decision to allow football players to move freely within the EU, revolutionising the game and laying the foundations of modern football virtually overnight.
Today, we celebrate 60 years since the signature of the Treaty of Rome on 25th March 1957, the first step towards a united Europe. The Treaty established the European Communities and with them, fundamental principles such as freedom of movement for all citizens.
Since the signing of the Rome Treaty, the European Union has enjoyed six decades of unprecedented peace, prosperity and security. The contrast to the first half of the 20th Century could not be greater. Two catastrophic wars in Europe between 1914 and 1945 left millions dead, and a continent devastated, divided and prostrate. For countries that had long been at war, European integration has been the most successful peace project in our history.
Today, the world is going through a time of great uncertainty: the global balance of power is shifting and the foundations of a rules-based international order are too often being questioned. The European Union will continue to be a strong, cooperative and reliable power.
Our partners know what we stand for. We stand for multilateralism, sustainable development, inclusive societies, the fight against all inequalities, in education, in democracy and human rights.
Trinidad and Tobago knows this first-hand. Last year we celebrated forty years of collaboration, cooperation and partnership between the European Union and Trinidad and Tobago. Over these past decades the European Union has supported the country in its endeavours to promote sustainable growth and strengthen the social fabric of the society.
This included for instance support for the implementation of the sugar sector reform programme and the diversification of the agricultural sector. More recently a programme was completed that aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of the private sector. Civil Society Organisations receive support so that they can more effectively interact with the authorities in the promotion of human rights or the delivery of services.
The EU will continue to preserve and strengthen the global order. We stand for better global rules, rules that protect people against abuse, rules that expand rights and raise standards. It is thanks to our engagement that the global community has set up innovative agreements like the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
We believe that a more fragile international environment calls for greater engagement, not for retrenchment. That is why the European Union is a strong and active partner of regional organisations like CARICOM/CARIFORUM.
Whatever events may bring in the future, one thing is certain: the EU will continue to put promoting international peace and security, development cooperation, human rights and responding to humanitarian crises at the heart of its foreign and security policies.
And it all began with the Treaty of Rome which went on to redefine not only football but the entire world order in launching the European project. On its anniversary today, we celebrate and reaffirm our commitment to the values and objectives on which it is founded and look forward to many more years of friendship, freedom and football.