Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-012"

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"Mr President, a few months ago, at the Intergovernmental Conference in Brussels, it became clear that the Union might fail and that we might revert to the hallowed national egotisms. Everyone shrank back from the consequences of such disintegration, got cold feet and set about looking for ways of getting the good ship Europe afloat again. Mr President, you really ought to interrupt me and ask why I am talking nonsense. This sentence is 20 years old; Spinelli used it in his speech to this House when presenting his draft. I confess that I am shocked by how up-to-date this speech is. As if he were discussing the Convention, he compares the two methods – the drafting of a constitution by a parliament as against the diplomats and ministers at an Intergovernmental Conference. He tells us that we now know the outcomes of these two differing approaches. As the negotiations progressed, the national outlook irresistibly gained the upper hand, the European outlook has steadily faded away, and we end up with the proposal that, in effect, action by states should be emphasised to the detriment of action at a supranational level. As you can see, I am sharing my speaking time with Spinelli. There is no better way of expressing what has happened over the past few months, in Ecofin, in Brussels, in Naples: the old struggle for a European democracy as opposed to the Europe of the State chanceries, bureaucracies, governments and their claims to absolute power. Spinelli appeals to this House in these words: ‘In taking this initiative, we derive our legitimacy from our status as the citizens’ and the community’s elected representatives, as those who bear the actual responsibility for the European democracy that is coming into being.’ I have found it very exciting to follow the argument in this speech, for he is trying to persuade this House not to send the draft to the Council or to the Intergovernmental Conference, but to be ratified by the national parliaments. He, too, was only a matter of months away from an election, and he was speaking in a February, the same month as the decisive moment in the constitution-making process, and I regret the fact that Parliament has not found it in itself to adopt this Convention draft and submit it to the national Parliaments for ratification. He goes on to say how ashamed he is of a parliament that will in future be powerless to act decisively in giving Europe a constitution, how he shrinks back from setting foot in it. He also has something fundamental to say about unanimity and the constitution: ‘If we were to allow ourselves misgivings about the possibility of starting before everyone has acceded, we would be leaving the decision in the hands, not of those who are most determined, but of those who are the most hesitant, and, indeed, potential opponents, and would thereby be condemning the whole enterprise to virtually certain failure.’ Twenty years ago, Altiero Spinelli called on Parliament to tell the people what was at stake, that being European democracy and the development of political unity. I will close with some words from Jean Monnet, words that I would urge all governments and ministers to bear constantly in mind, the most up-to-date words that can possibly be said in today’s constitution-making process: ‘We are not coordinating states; we are bringing people together!’"@en1

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