This 8th of August marks the 60th Anniversary of the Marcinelle mining disaster, the largest ever tragedy for Italian migrant workers in Europe. Two hundred and sixty-two miners from all over the old continent died in the disaster. One hundred and thirty-six were Italian workers who had migrated to Belgium.
Since 2001 we have established the National Day of the Sacrifices of Italian Workers throughout the World on this date to commemorate and honour our compatriots who lost their lives at work abroad while contributing to the development and progress of their host countries.
We reaffirm the right of every citizen to work, as set forth in our Constitution, by commemorating Marcinelle, and the need to guarantee all workers the right to work in a safe and dignified environment anywhere in the world.
At a time when Europe is faced with uncertainty and different, converging challenges, such as terrorism, migration, Brexit, the economic impact on employment, especially among the young, we should make sure the sacrifice of Marcinelle was not in vain. This tragedy helped to make European Institutions - which were being established and consolidated in the years after the end of WWII - aware of the need to implement measures to protect workers better. Their mobility within the member states of the new "European House" was to become the cornerstone of one of our fundamental freedoms - the freedom of people.
Our predecessors wanted to build a united, responsible Europe committed to the promotion of peace and development, and the values of tolerance and freedom which we, as European citizens, consider to be a paradigm of our civilisation. It is to this kind of Europe, which we want to renew and develop, that men and women look up with a sense of hope, fleeing wars and violation of basic rights, from underdevelopment and inequality, and that in too many cases, as it was for the victims of Marcinelle, are ready to put their lives at risk to look for a better future.
It is to these men and women, but also to the many European citizens who feel disoriented in today's difficult times, that we must give clear and far-sighted answers that will be of help in their daily lives and enhance trust in the institutions and in the project of a new, cohesive and competitive Europe. We also owe this much to the victims of Marcinelle mining disaster and to the millions of our emigrants who contributed, with their dedication and abilities to develop the countries that received them, but also to the many Italians who even today look for work abroad, continuing to spread the image of an industrious and active Italy in the world.