Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-005"
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". Mr President, if Jean Monnet were standing here today, surveying this Parliament he would have good reason to rejoice. He would see representatives of 25 countries and 450 million people sitting side-by-side, striving together for the common welfare of the people of Europe. He would see a Parliament in which parties operate on a cross-national and sometimes pan-European basis, where representatives from across our continent find as much common cause with colleagues from other countries as they do with their own compatriots. If Monnet were to look beyond this Parliament today, he would see countries which for centuries had been bitter enemies working hand-in-hand as convinced partners. He would have reason to rejoice. It is also a tribute to the endurance and courage of many millions in central and eastern Europe who often suffered for dreaming those dreams aloud. The Budapest uprising of 1956, the Prague Spring of 1968 and the Baltic singing revolutions of 1990 have contributed to the construction of a Europe at the outset of the 21st century that few Europeans would have dreamed of throughout the previous 2000 years of our troubled history. The French writer Victor Hugo said in 1849 that a day would come when 'all you nations of the continent, without losing your distinct qualities and glorious individuality, will merge into a higher unity and found the European brotherhood'. That day is upon us. Now is not the time for complacency to find a home in the new Europe. We cannot simply stand back and admire our handiwork. Now is the time for new ambitions. On Saturday the President of Ireland said: 'Our continent is ancient but our Union is young'. We still have work to do and ambitions that remain unfulfilled. Mr President, as you said, one of those ambitions must be the Constitutional Treaty and its very early completion. We must be careful to protect the freedom, justice, human rights, and political pluralism that that are the bedrocks of our Union. We must continue to build on the peace that Monnet saw replacing the deadly rivalries of his generation and their ancestors. We must also ensure that the new needs and circumstances of the Union are reflected in its basic law. On the 20th anniversary of the adoption by Parliament of Spinelli's draft Constitutional Treaty we must work to agree a new Treaty that will improve the basis for democratic discourse in our Union, that will build on the success of our Union, and that will make the Union more readily understood and effective. The first major task we face together in the new Union will be to agree the new Constitutional Treaty. In March we decided to reach agreement at the latest by the June European Council meeting – just six weeks away. Early agreement on a new Treaty that allows the Union to develop and prosper is the best way to commemorate the work of Jean Monnet and to mark the 20th anniversary of this Parliament's draft Constitution which was presented by Spinelli. That is the challenge that faces us over the next few weeks – working together we will meet that challenge Even as we meet here today, representatives from the 25 Member States meet in Dublin to hammer out details in relation to the Treaty. We wish them well in that work. The whole of Europe is looking to them to fulfil the dream of Spinelli and Monnet. Like Monnet, Spinelli was a man of vision. His vision of a democratic and transparent citizens' Union gave impetus to the idea that a Constitutional Treaty would enhance the Union's credibility. It gave impetus also to the idea that we the citizens deserved a Union that was comprehensible to us and working in our interests. Monnet hoped to make war between the nations of Europe not just unthinkable but materially impossible. Today we can see that the dream is closer than ever to becoming a reality. John Hume, the Nobel Laureate and Member of this House, once said: 'Our European Union has become the most successful peace process in Europe's long history'. The two men – Monnet and Spinelli – were different in many ways. Monnet tended to work quietly behind the scenes, using his legendary international networking skills to build the widest case for a new Europe. Monnet laid the foundations for this enterprise. Spinelli, on the other hand, was a much more public figure, a vigorous opponent of fascism in the first half of the last century; in his later days an elected Member of this Parliament. They shared, however, a vital similarity: they were men of action, determined to harness their vision of a democratic, peaceful and prosperous Europe to the means of advancing it in the real world. What was it about these men that has allowed the ideas they promoted many decades ago to create the impetus which, even after their deaths, propels all of us forward to continue their work? Perhaps Monnet's biographer, François Duchêne, described his subject best when he wrote that Monnet's secret 'came from a combination of creative and critical faculties. He appealed to the romantic in people through the idealism of his goals, and to the expert in them through the realism of his means.' Making a new, peaceful Europe was Monnet's greatest dream. Twenty-five years after his death we continue to build on the foundations he laid. Spinelli, like Monnet, believed that, without radical positive change, Europe would be condemned to repeat its past fatal errors and endanger its future existence. In 1947 he suggested that 'nothing is sadder than the fact that the ideal Europe, the cradle of law and liberty, constitutes only part of the geographical area of Europe. What is more', he added, 'that area is certain to shrink and European civilisation to become a mere historical memory, unless we can at least unite what at present remains of it.' The European Union has risen to this challenge. What drove both men was their experience and their abhorrence of war. However, as they sought to communicate ideas and goals that would help rescue Europe from itself they could hardly have thought that from the rubble of the Second World War such a strong, united Europe would come about. Sixty years ago Europe was struggling with the last phase of the most destructive war in its history. Against this background the European Union, in spite of its imperfections, is a heroic endeavour undertaken against great odds. It has a record of assisting peace and prosperity among European nations and beyond, when history seemed to insist that such a goal amounted to little more than a flight of fancy. Last Saturday we witnessed an extraordinary reversal of history with the formal ending of the artificial divisions of Europe. The enlargement of the European Union to 25 Member States is a tribute to the potency of a dream."@en1
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