Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-035"

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"Mr President, today, again, almost everything has been said about the timetable for consideration of the Constitution and of its contents. We welcome the Irish Presidency’s adroitness and its determination to bring about a resolution on the Constitution by the end of June. I agree entirely with Commissioner Vitorino in the demands he has made and the warnings he has given, and can testify that he played an outstanding part in the Convention’s Praesidium, for which he has earned Parliament’s gratitude. What do we need the Constitution for? Only with the Constitution will Europe be equal to its global responsibilities. Without a Constitution, the states of Europe will remain pawns in other powers’ games; only with it will they themselves become players. The Constitution alone will make the European Union stronger, more effective and more democratic, rather than merely larger. Without the Constitution, the EU will progressively degenerate into a customs union. The Constitution alone will enable the EU to become, again, attractive to the public, for Europe will become more comprehensible and more responsible. Without the Constitution, people will lose what is left of their confidence in the future viability of European integration. If it were to fail, it would mean more than just the end of a great hope. Its failure would mean reversion to a Europe of plots and rancour; it would be the beginning of the end for European unity. Centres of gravity, avant-gardes, and multiple speeds – none of these are alternatives; none of them can be a substitute for a constitution. A Union of axes and alliances, of so-called strategic partnerships is not what we need. We must not turn this Europe of ours into a patchwork Union, confusing the citizens at home and discrediting Europe in the eyes of those around us. One of the key words in the Constitution is ‘balance’. That was, and remains, a key to peace and stability in Europe. The states of the old Europe spent centuries in repeated attempts to establish this balance. On the field of diplomacy, they used axes and alliances, and, on the field of battle, blood and iron. The Constitution for the new Europe of the twenty-first century establishes balance by means of the equal participation of all states and the weighting of each of them within shared institutions in a way they can regard as fair. The Constitution for the new Europe replaces the old Europe’s balance of powers by the balance of institutions and by balancing the legitimacy of states and citizens. A new world order is coming into being, not in ten years’ time, but today. If we Europeans do not prepare ourselves now, we will be opting out of world history – first in political terms, and then, inevitably, economically as well. The union of Europeans on the basis of this Constitution is our response to globalisation. History affords no precedent for what we will be doing. It will demand political courage and a firm faith in the future of our old continent. Legally speaking, the Constitution is a Treaty, and replaces the treaties on European Union currently in force, but it does – like every democratic constitution in the world – govern the ways in which power is legitimated and the ways in which it is limited. Politically speaking, the Constitution makes the enlarged European Union more solid, more effective, more responsible, more manageable and more comprehensible, enabling its people to become more familiar with it and to trust it more. Historically speaking, though, the Constitution amounts to nothing less than the re-founding of the European Union, of a Union that is an example to those within it and those outside it, a Union of peace, freedom, and justice."@en1

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