Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-112"

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"Mr President, I would like to join with you in thanking the Irish presidency for everything it has done so far, in particular in ensuring the success of this enormously historic occasion of the welcoming of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which, as other speakers have said, will go down in the annals of history. I would like to contribute a few thoughts at this stage. This morning speakers have been talking about the past, of Jean Monnet and Altiero Spinelli. I would like to give a few ideas of how one might see the future. I am not sure that I share the Commission's idea that we should be looking at enlargement as the sole focus of our energies. It is true that within the European Parliament we now have a fantastic variety of representation of traditions and cultures, but this is not what Europe is going to be about over the next five to ten years. In the last 20 years we have seen this question of enlargement go together with the deepening of the Union. We are now at a point where we see the limits to competence and to the geographical expansion of the Union being reached. Therefore, I have three remarks to make. Firstly, when a new Commission is appointed, we need some vision and strategy of how to handle the internal problems of the Union. The question arises in our own Parliament of how we are to handle the vast array of different political parties, 25 nationalities and 20 different languages. But, perhaps more importantly for our electorate, we must determine how to remain competitive in the global economy and how to ensure the internal security of our citizens. These are debates that will come later this afternoon. However, for ourselves today, we face the question of how to ensure that the European Union will be a player on the world stage, how to handle the questions of AIDS in Africa, how to contribute towards peacekeeping, and how to ensure that the Union has a presence in the world. A few weeks ago, we adopted Mr Brok's resolution on how we would like to work with our transatlantic friends, the United States, as we move from a Community of values to a Community of action, so that together we can see how a global system will work. In the next few years we will need to think of how the European Union can really make an impact on the global stage, as a partner rather than a rival of the United States. Therefore, on the question of how we are to handle enlargement, the majority of my Group would be in favour of consolidation of the Union rather than continuing enlargement simply because countries feel that they meet the criteria. The essential clause in the Copenhagen criteria is that we should take account of the absorptive capacity of the European Union in order to welcome countries as they would like to be welcomed and as we have welcomed the ten Central and Eastern European countries today. I would urge in the coming months that we look at the provisions on privileged partnerships under the Constitutional Treaty. Not everybody has to join the Union in order to meet the requirements of their foreign policies satisfactorily. We in the Union have to be sure to coordinate everything that is available to us in a financial, political and economic way – as the President-in-Office of the Council has said for the Turkish side of Cyprus, which is not yet able to join the European Union. We must find the legal basis, the means by which we control the funds, and deal with a whole array of different things to enable us to create a stable, prosperous and secure environment for citizens of the European Union to live in. In conclusion, when we look to the future, at enlargement and our neighbours, we in the European Union must be more prepared to look strategically at our own interests. What do we want, where do we want to go and what do we want to say to our citizens so that we can live in peace within our frontiers and contribute to global peace outside them? For the majority of my Group, this means that we need to think in terms of consolidation over the coming period, rather than enlargement. In time we can enlarge, yet under no account should we enlarge so quickly that we undermine the European Union, which we have built so strongly in the last 40 years."@en1

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