Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-167"

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"Madam President, we all rejoice in welcoming the peoples of the ten new Member States of the European Union. Enlargement brings the hope of peace, cooperation and valuable exchanges between peoples. Nevertheless, we must not deceive ourselves about the problems that confront us. In the countries that have just joined us, average gross domestic product per capita is equal to only 45% of the average in the Fifteen. In order to be considered, these countries have had to drastically restructure their economies. They were required to implement the liberal model, introducing market mechanisms with competition as their sole model, which was to the detriment of a social policy founded on solidarity and economic cooperation. At no time was the Commission willing to take into account the grave economic and social consequences of this headlong rush. The Europe that these countries have joined is, however, beset by crises. The Lisbon strategy, launched in 2000 with the aim of securing full employment and a very high level of competitiveness, has failed to achieve that. For the first time in ten years, the Commission has admitted that employment is falling and, like the Council, is worrying about how serious the movement towards de-industrialisation is. It has enacted one directive after another, opening up postal services, energy and air and rail transport to competition, while refusing to carry out any sort of serious review of how this might affect jobs, the environment and prices. At the Barcelona European Council, the Heads of State or Government decided by common agreement to defer the retirement age, but there is, all the same, an unsustainable contradiction between trumpeting the priority to be given to jobs and speeding up the introduction of more flexible working practices, cutting wage costs while allowing gigantic industrial mergers and restructuring to go ahead. Imprisoned by the thinking of the Maastricht Treaty and the Stability Pact, the Council and the Commission are refusing to face up to their consequences. This adds up to a heavy burden for the peoples. We are a long way from the objectives of the Treaty of Rome and its avowed intention to promote improved living and working conditions for the workforce, enabling them to have equal access to progress. The struggle for jobs and against social exclusion, for better purchasing power and working conditions, to maintain and extend the rights of businesses’ workers, must become the European Union’s first practical priority, although defence and the improvement of public services must not be forgotten. This will require a profound change in the EU’s economic and monetary policies, which are guided solely by the demands of the financial markets and rules of competition that stifle any industrial strategy. The objectives of the European Central Bank must be redrafted to include job-creating investments and industrial projects. Giving the European project a new direction will mean abandoning dogmatism and accepting the need to reflect on other options and discuss them. No employment strategy can be crowned with success unless workers really are given the power to intervene to suspend planned redundancies, and to halt the mergers in progress. Any merger agreement must include social clauses. There must be penalties for failure to abide by directives on the consultation of workers. Finally, Madam President, Europe, as a source of hope, calls out for that which is best in each people to be shared and pooled. The intervention of workers and citizens will be indispensable in building tomorrow’s Europe. That is the Europe we are to build. What my group has done over the past five years has been a demanding labour, and many of the fields are still open."@en1

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