Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/1999-07-21-Speech-3-055"

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"(IT) Madam President, President of the Commission, ladies and gentlemen, our group is set to assess the Commission on the basis of the tasks before us, the hearings and the presentation of the whole programme announced for September. We will carry out this assessment with great care and, naturally, try to be constructive. The President of the Commission has pointed out the need for a clear rapport between the composition of the Commission itself and its programme. We will assess the proposed choice on the basis of this rapport. At the moment, the composition appears to us to be rather neocentralist, and the representation of women still inadequate, but in any case, it is a question of assessing the overall success of the operations as they happen. The decisive factor will essentially be the relationship between the Commission and its programme, and we are preparing for this comparison with great enthusiasm. The President of the Commission has touched on some of the issues such as public health, doping in the sporting world and air traffic, to give a token semblance of adherence to the programme, but his attention seems rather to me to be focused on two other issues: the reconstruction of Kosovo and the Intergovernmental Conference in Helsinki. I would like to comment on these two issues. Firstly, with regard to Kosovo, it is right to be thinking of reconstruction and reconciliation and treating the Balkans as a region with a special relationship with Europe. However, it is also essential to be aware, in addition to the damage in the Balkans, of the devastation wreaked by the war both on international order, with international legislation ripped to shreds and on the UN, which has been razed to the ground, and to bear in mind the substantial loss of autonomy for Europe with regard to the Atlantic Alliance and the United States of America. Now, of course we must reconstruct the Balkans, but in order to do so, Europe needs to regain its autonomy and authority, which requires democratic construction as well. President Prodi is giving thought to the Intergovernmental Conference, but he seems not to be giving enough heed to the fact that the critical state of the institutions and the citizens" lack of confidence in them is neither politically nor socially neutral. Although it is exacerbated by the confidence crisis produced by the of the Commission, this Parliament does have a democratic deficit. It is far removed from the everyday problems of the people of Europe. The only Governmental body seems to be the Central European Bank, and that has less control than the United States" Central Bank. However, we await what will be said in the hearings with great interest and especially in the September programme. We would like you to know, Mr President, that our attitude will nevertheless depend on the correction we request from you regarding the content of your previous speeches, which displayed a change of direction which we did not appreciate. It is not for me to remind you that there are twenty million unemployed in Europe at the moment – and unemployment is a problem which undermines Europe"s social cohesion – and that the achievements of this Europe in areas such as the welfare state are being undermined by neo-free trade policies, which are those same neo-free trade policies in which you exalted the need for flexibility in previous speeches and which, however, brought a reduction in the quality of work and life, in contrast to your proposals for the future. We suggest that you reflect on the need for a change of direction. Even this debate seems to point to two testing grounds: one concerns the relationship between Europe and the world, and the other concerns European construction and the individual situations in the different countries. The negotiations on the WTO and world trade will be the testing ground for Europe, to see whether it will be able to temper the first principle of the free trading of goods, which dominates today, with the need to protect working conditions throughout the world, environmental conditions and the health of the world"s populations and Europeans in particular. The other testing ground is that of Europe. Here we have a Stability Pact which is making it increasingly difficult to respond to the problems of unemployment. Even the costs of the war are by now placing strain upon the Stability Pact, which was already being challenged by a growth rate so slow as to be completely inadequate for the problems of Europe. Here you are right, Mr President. There is a need for flexibility, not in the labour market, but regarding the Stability Pact. Maybe it should be suspended, but in any case, growth investments need to be considered outside of this context and a qualified enlargement policy put forward. Without these, there will be no possibility of either making good the democratic deficit or reducing the lack of confidence of the people of Europe in their current institutions. It is in this spirit that we are preparing for a constructive debate on the work that awaits you."@en1
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