To honour International Holocaust Remembrance Day (27 January), MEPs held a formal ceremony on Wednesday and observed a minute of silence for the victims.

Opening the ceremony, President Antonio Tajani said: “By commemorating the victims of the Shoah for the first time during a plenary session as part of Parliament’s Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, we want to send out a strong message: we must not forget and the European Parliament will never forget. There is no place in the European Union for hatred and antisemitism”.

In her address to MEPs, Charlotte Knobloch, former President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany said that even though post-war European democracies have turned out to be robust, “a Europe in which 89 percent of the Jewish population complains about an increase in antisemitism in their home country has got a problem”.

“We are witnessing everywhere in Europe the strengthening of political movements that are resolutely opposed to remembrance and memory. What they propagate is a present without a past, as a springboard to a future without memory.”

She continued: “Hatred against Jews poisons society as a whole. It mocks the basic European belief that freedom and security is for every single European citizen, or else, for no one. It is our duty to oppose this widespread antisemitism and to push back. That is our responsibility.”

Talking about the challenges that the EU is facing today, she stated that the “EU can defend its values only if it remains united”.

The ceremony was held in the presence of a large number of invited dignitaries, including Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Court of Auditors Klaus-Heiner Lehne, Chief Rabbi of the Israeli Community of Brussels Albert Guigui, a great number of ambassadors and many more.