When I was in Brussels and Copenhagen this fall, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech was on every speechwriter's lips. It's fair to say that the speechwriters there—especially the ones I met from the European Commission, where I gave a speech—were green with envy.
The European Commission and the European Union have no such speech of their own, and no Gettysburg Address, either—to rhetorically galvanize the idea of a united Europe into anything more, in the European citizen's mind, than a hedge against economic instability, a more efficient marketplace and a hopeful preventer of the political turmoil that spilled so much blood in previous European centuries.
But war prevention and business best practices do not a compelling dream make. And that frustrates many in Europe—especially the speechwriters!
Finally, Rune Kier Nielsen had enough. Over beers in Brussels the speechwriter for Denmark's Ministry of Climate, Energy and Building told me that the European dream is (or should be) based on a "table metaphor."
And in case you're interested too, Nielsen now describes that dream—and the speech that would describe it—in some detail.
You can argue—and I did in Brussels, prettty vociferously (the beer is strong there)—that the EU peoples will never have enough historical and cultural soul in common to come together in the spiritual way that Nielsen hopes for.
What can't be argued ins Neilsen's conclusion:
"What we need now are politicians courageous enough to voice the dream in speeches with vivid and sensual words for people to see, feel and want. They should not be afraid to persuade and be controversial. All dreams are like this. … A dream takes a side and only later will it be evident if it is on the right side of history."
Speechwriter, wherever you are from: What do you think of Nielsen's proposal?