Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-113"

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"Mr President, on behalf of the Socialist Group I would like to congratulate the Irish presidency on the way it has conducted business. It has been a delight to work with Minister Roche in particular. The Irish presidency has set a model of transparency and cooperation within the Parliament. Today – which has been very much a day of celebration – it is important to remember just how far we have come in the European Union in a very short period of time. I remember visiting Lithuania a few weeks after independence. It was then a country with huge energy shortages, tremendous dislocation, Soviet troops still on its soil and tremendous insecurity. It is hard to imagine that, in the short period of 15 years, Lithuania has managed to join the EU. This is a sign of what the EU can achieve when we are determined to set off down a particular road and not let obstacles hinder us. It is often said that this is a historic enlargement – it is indeed. If I can return again to Lithuania, one of the most spectacular events in my life was a visit to the KGB Museum in Vilnius where my blood ran cold. This enlargement shows that the Cold War is finally at an end and we should remember that in those revolutions of 1989 and 1990, a number of people died to have the freedom to join organisations like the EU. We should remember their sacrifice. When we finish celebrating, we ought to realise that all we have done is reach the end of the beginning of the EU. We now finally have a European Union which is Europe-wide. It is not complete – and I disagree with Mr Elles, we be moving forward in relation to Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey – but it is a Europe-wide EU. We must now make this EU work for the benefit of its citizens. The hard part really begins today. In order to do that, we must start by getting away from endless discussions about processes and start talking about outcomes and policies. That is why it is important to agree on a Constitution and then move on and look at how we benefit EU citizens. Our priorities in this enlarged Europe must be to have more and better jobs: not to talk, but to . It is worth noting that the ten new countries have all had to go through a process of being investigated on a yearly basis by the Commission on their progress towards fulfilling the requirements for membership. Perhaps we should apply that same process to the existing 15 Member States, so that instead of promising to do things, people actually do them. That must be our priority. We also have to look at how we develop legislation which can be properly implemented. We need to move our focus away from simply developing legislation to looking at how it is implemented and where it is achieving the objectives that we set out. We must also have more and better security. Enlargement has to deliver a safer Europe for our citizens, a Europe safe from criminals, drug runners, terrorists and people traffickers. That is what the citizens are going to look for in our enlarged Europe. Part of that security agenda must be that we do not become Eurocentric. This enlarged Europe must be for the benefit of the world as a whole. That is why I hope – and I am glad Commissioner Nielson is here – that we see no slackening of our commitments to development policy, no slackening of our commitments to meet the millennium development goals and that we redouble our efforts to develop better relationships with our neighbours. We should bear in mind that in Kaliningrad in particular, we have a perfect example of how we need to proceed. How we succeed in working with Kaliningrad will dictate how we succeed in working with the rest of the world. We should celebrate today, but we should also remember that we must start working hard from now on to make this enlarged Europe work for the benefit of our citizens."@en1

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