The upcoming European elections on 22-25 May will be crucial for Europe.
They will not only determine the composition of the European parliament but will also have a huge impact on the European Union's policies and budget over the next five years.
Furthermore, for the first time, there are candidates from the European political parties for the post of European commission president, which is engendering a greater interest in Europe's future.
The EU for the past five years has been at the forefront of many European minds, be it due to the Euro crisis or to events in neighbouring Ukraine. One point is clear: whether you believe in deeper European integration or not, there is a huge and growing interest in the EU and how and when it will fully recover from the economic crisis.
In fact the financial and economic crisis has driven home one important lesson: countries with a solid industrial base have fared much better and are having less trouble finding a way out of the crisis. Industry can be a substantial growth driver for Europe if its competitiveness can be enhanced, generating positive spill over into other economic sectors.
If we want to maintain and grow a competitive industrial base while keeping our high social and environmental standards; if we want to safeguards our jobs, our standard of living and generate growth; if Europe is to have a prosperous future, we must make sure that the innovative and sustainable products of the 21st century are designed and manufactured here, in Europe.
We need a strong policy framework that supports both manufacturing and wider industry. And we need to look outward, creating a global Europe, one that can compete successfully with existing and emerging economies worldwide. Europe must tackle unemployment especially youth unemployment otherwise we risk losing a generation and we risk disillusionment with the European Union.
A thorough, fact-based conversation on the virtues of deepening European integration needs to take place across the Union in the period ahead.
[pullquote]The stakes in these elections are high, with 507 million people represented in a unique supranational parliament with 24 official languages, so let the debates and decisions be taken with full access to the facts[/pullquote].
Europe will be stronger in the next five years if it can support the right policies for sustainable job rich recovery with popular democratic support. Europeans, go and vote.