Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-028"

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"Mr President, on 3 September last year, in this very House and to the cheers of those present, Mr Giscard d'Estaing presented us with the draft Constitution. A large majority of my group, for its part – convinced that, now more than ever, we need a Europe that can offer hope that the world can change, and irrespective of what we might think of one aspect or another of the text – refused to sign up to what was termed the ‘constitutionalisation of the liberal world’. Ultimately, we were unanimous in calling for a referendum, to be preceded by a major public and genuinely pluralist debate in each country. Eight months on, we are no less convinced of the rightness of our position; in fact we have, I think, been strengthened in it by the way in which the debate on the European Left has unfolded, by the experiences of several EU countries and, lastly, despite its wishes, by the work of the Commission itself. Developments in the European left’s debate on this issue have been most interesting. Indeed, in the weeks and months following the publication of the text of the Convention, we have found our position increasingly in line with that of the main spokespeople of the European Social Forum and of alter-globalisation movements. Furthermore, prominent Members of other groups of this House, or their political family, have taken on some of our arguments, even our wording, for which I am most grateful, albeit juxtaposing certain ideas that I would consider contradictory. This is nothing, however, that a calm public debate could not put right. Equally significant is experience during this entire period in different EU countries. Fierce social struggles have taken place against liberal reforms that are all rooted in the European policies of our respective governments. This is precisely why, the very day after the resounding electoral defeat suffered by the Right in France, the Commission moved to head off any risk of a shift in French politics by issuing an ultimatum that, and I quote, ‘France must pursue its reforms’. Lastly, the Commission itself has just drawn up a progress report on the Lisbon Agenda, which, four years ago, expressed the ambition of social improvement through liberalism. What exactly does this analysis say? For the first time in ten years, as the document sets out in detail, we have shed two hundred thousand more jobs than we have created in the eurozone, whereas the declared objective had been to achieve full employment by 2010. We even learn, from this same document, that more than one 15-year old European in six, to quote the Commission ‘does not have the basic skills in reading writing and arithmetic’. This offers some idea of the depth of the crisis in the liberal model, which had aimed to lead us in less than six years to the most dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world. On all of these points, most Members of my group are not expecting miracles from the European Council, which – by complete chance, of course – comes a few days after the European elections. In forcefully reiterating our demands for a referendum, preceded by a genuine debate that would allow the public to be in possession of the facts, we feel that, straightaway, a clear and unequivocal vote this June will be the best signal to give to the architects of the future Treaty. Mr President, on a personal note, if I may, I should like to conclude – given that this is to be my last speech of this legislative term – that, if my constituents so wish, I will continue to lead the fight, with my friends, in this very House, for an alternative Europe. Otherwise, we will do so elsewhere, come what may. See you soon!"@en1

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