Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-166"

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"Madam President, Commissioner Dimas, how do we turn enlargement into an economic and social success? We shall do so by equipping the new Europe for international competition in the way you talked about, Mr Dimas. We shall do so by releasing initiative and energy, by continuing the work on creating an internal market involving free competition, by guaranteeing an internal market for financial services so that businesses have adequate and cheap capital to work with and by guaranteeing that, through free competition, consumers and taxpayers are supplied with a diverse range of products and services of high quality at reasonable prices. The lesson to be learned from the bitter experience of Communism’s command economy was, of course, that economic and political freedom belong together. Those of us in the new Europe must not, therefore, be afraid of economic freedom. We must not be afraid of private enterprise and free competition. These concepts are not a threat, but the key to economic prosperity. My experience is that those in our new Member States have felt rather offended at the unwillingness to give the labour force from the new countries freedom of movement from the beginning. Indeed, even those countries that, like my own, are, from day one, opening the borders to workers from the new Member States have introduced monitoring of the labour market and restrictions on access to social benefits. My Baltic and Polish friends wonder what kind of opinion we have of them. I have to admit, moreover, that delight at the fall of the Berlin Wall and EU enlargement has turned too quickly into anxiety about the changes that may follow in their wake. We have forgotten too quickly that many people from the new Member States did in fact leave behind rich and secure lives in the West in order to travel back to economic uncertainty and develop their countries. Too often, we forget our experience of previous enlargements involving poorer countries, which have of course produced good results. Moreover, we attach too little importance to the many advantages we may derive from sharing the workload among us. Rapid economic growth and the dynamic in the new Member States will act as a breath of fresh air for the economies of the old Member States. We must help to create that growth, partly through grants from the regional funds for developing the countries’ internal structures. EU aid of up to four per cent of gross domestic product per year is a large amount for the new Member States, but a modest amount for the existing ones. There is some justification for putting a question mark over whether it will be at all possible to use the large transfers at the rate we should like to do. These are matters we shall work on: simpler administration and greater opportunities for having the money used as intended. We must be ambitious and pin more of our hopes on training and research so that we develop the new Europe in accordance with the guidelines and objectives laid down in the Lisbon process. As the Commissioner pointed out, we must also do a lot of work on developing the social dialogue. It will be a difficult task, but I believe that, if we support, for example, the work being done through the agencies in Bilbao, Thessaloniki and Dublin, we shall have a good opportunity to take this process forward."@en1

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