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Frans Timmermans awarded honorary life membership of UCD Law Society

Posted, March 28, 2017

First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans has been awarded lifetime honorary membership of the UCD Law Society.

Introducing Mr Timmermans to an audience of several hundred students and faculty, Professor Colin Scott, UCD Vice President for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion and Principal of the UCD College of Social Sciences and Law, described him as a “passionate supporter of democracy and human rights in the European Union”.

In his talk at UCD, on February 20, 2017, Mr Timmermans appealed to the students to defend the ideals of the EU.

“If your generation doesn’t stand up and defend this Union, it will become unhinged, it will fall apart – I am absolutely convinced of that,” he said.

Mr Timmermans said the EU had tried too often to appeal to EU citizens with cold statistics. Instead, the Union should concentrate on connecting with them on an emotional level by referring to their ideals and creating a positive vision for the future.

“I think if you see the extreme right being successful in some European countries it is because they do speak to the hearts and minds, not just to the minds. And I think that if you want to rekindle [the notion] that this European project is at the service of European citizens, we need to start speaking to the hearts and minds again.

“So you have to present a vision of the future that is enticing, that is tempting. If you can’t invite people to dream about the future, they will rather follow the nightmares of others.”

"We should be referring far more to your ideals of social justice, ideals of international justice and peace, ideals of a sustainable future, ideals of making sure that we don’t overburden mother earth, ideals of looking for a circular, a sustainable economy of the future.”

During his talk, Mr Timmermans engaged with students in an open dialogue question-and-answer style format.

At the end of the session, he was presented with the UCD Law Society honorary lifetime membership award by Aodhán Peelo, auditor of the Society.

As well as being First Vice President, Mr Timmermans is the European Commissioner for the portfolio of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

He previously served as a member of the House of Representatives in the Netherlands for the Labour Party. In Holland, he also served as Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs charged with European Affairs from 2007 to 2010 and as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2012 to 2014.

He has received several civic orders of merit for his work as a civil servant, including a Knight of the Legion of Honour from France and the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.

By: Jamie Deasy, digital journalist, UCD University Relations