Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-03-Speech-1-008"

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". Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this is the hour in which a dream becomes reality, a moment of such magnitude that I have to admit that I am overwhelmed by it and can scarcely keep a grip on my emotions. A freely-elected European parliament, representing 25 self-aware, free and sovereign European nations, having voluntarily bound themselves together in an association, goes far beyond the boldest hopes of those who first dreamed and thought of European integration. Not one country in Europe can cope with the consequences of globalisation on its own. Not one country can single-handedly balance growth and social justice. Not one country can, relying on itself alone, win the war against terrorism and international crime. We can only do it together. National sovereignty can be exercised and defended only if it is exercised jointly with others. That is the fundamental idea, and that is why we are here. I thank all those who have played their part in getting us this far, especially your House and your President, Pat Cox, who has given you firm political leadership. I wish to thank the committees, particularly the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy, and its Chairman, Mr Brok. My thanks go to all the political groups that have been with us throughout in a critical and constructive spirit. From the depths of my heart, I welcome you all here and rejoice at being able to work with you. More now than ever, am I convinced that this great enlargement, which has now been completed, is a shining example of the attractiveness, dynamism and youth of the European ideal, an ideal that has not grown old, and whose attractiveness is demonstrated by the nations that have had to walk a hard road in search of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. This enlargement is also evidence of what we Europeans can do when, together, we get stuck in to a great project and when we have the will to see it through to completion. There were not many who thought we would do it, and we can take pride in what has been achieved. As I see it, this is final proof that the idea of European integration has a future. There are a number of popular beliefs going around at the moment, and I would like to lay them to rest. Firstly, European integration is not an elite project; this enlargement, in any case, was a matter of the peoples’ express desire and stated will. It would not have come about had not the peoples of the Baltic states, the Poles, the Czechs, the Slovaks, the Hungarians and the Slovenes made it unequivocally plain that they wanted to belong, once and for all, to the democratic family that the united Europe is, rather than to be left isolated in the no-man’s-land between East and West. Secondly, this great enlargement makes Europe stronger rather than weaker, both in political and economic terms. There are risks and problems involved in it, as well we all know, but the chances and opportunities far outweigh the risks, and we have good cause to be optimistic. Those of you, honourable Members, who hail from the new Member States will have a difficult task back home; you will encounter scepticism and doubt because things are not going as quickly as people would like. Whether or not the belief in European integration will remain strong enough to sustain future great projects will, to a large degree, depend on you. Thirdly and finally, joining in this great work of integrating Europe does not mean the surrender of sovereignty or of national identity. Those who – in both the new and old Member States – assert that European integration means the end of popular sovereignty do not understand the world as it is today. Not one country in Europe today is capable, on its own, of dealing with the problems that beset us."@en1

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