The occasion marked AEJ’s 50 anniversary, and the Association received messages of congratulations from Giorgio Napolitano and Mario Monti, the President and Prime Minister of the Italian Republic; European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes; Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland; Gianni Pitella and Georgios Papastamkos, Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament; Anna Maria Darmanin, Vice-President of the European Economic and Social Committee; and Diogo Pinto, Secretary-General of European Movement International. International AEJ President Eileen Dunne and Nuccio Fava, president of AEJ Italia, opened the Congress. Ms Dunne said: ‘As we celebrate today, we can be really proud of our Association, from being in the doldrums a few years ago – the messages sent to us on our 50th anniversary demonstrate how our reputation has been restored with organisations like the EU Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the EESC and the European Movement all of whom we continue to work alongside’. Many heartfelt thanks for AEJ Italia, that organised the 50th Congress and General Assembly 2012, with Carmelo Occhino, AEJ Italy’s Secretary-General, as an inspiring leader. Also many thanks for Valerio Lucciarini de Vincenzi and Piero Antimiani, mayor and deputy mayor of the Commune of Offida, which offered the AEJ such a warm and excellent hospitality.