Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-169"

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"Looking at the half empty benches one can conclude that many of us are still under the influence of the exciting events of enlargement, but work must continue. The greatest round of enlargement to have taken place in the European Union’s history has provoked extensive debates about the need to reform the European Union, with the most significant manifestation of these efforts being the preparation and discussion of the draft European Union Constitution. There is less thought and talk as to how the socio-economic effects of European Union enlargement can be turned into a success for the fifteen-member European Union, as well as the New States. The European Union has been joined by countries with fundamentally different levels of economic, and consequently also social, development. This means that enlargement demands a new understanding of ways to ensure the socio-economic growth of the European Union. I will remind you that the common market of the European Union was created with the aim of promoting the competitiveness of its members and is based on four fundamental freedoms. Almost all the 15 Member States of the European Union, excepting the United Kingdom, Ireland and Sweden, the latter with an admirable parliamentary vote against what the government was offering, have introduced a transitional period for the free movement of workers from the new Member States. Shortly before the time when the basis for the remaining three came into force, there were ever more forceful voices talking about tax dumping, unfair tax competition, speaking about the need for tax harmonisation, even though the European Convention had recently rejected this idea. There are fears about the possible movement of capital towards the new Member States, to be followed by a possible transfer of jobs in an eastward direction. Economists will never cease debating the right level of taxation. As far as I know, up to now only Austria has reacted appropriately to the possible flight of jobs, by planning to lower its corporate tax level. Ireland's taxation policy has made it especially attractive to investment from multinational companies (as an example). In my opinion the decisions by Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Austria show a healthy approach to the challenges presented by European Union enlargement. Only in this way will the expansion of the European Union unleash unique opportunities for the unification of Europe and more quickly resolve the stresses of domestic policy in the Member States. We must look at things realistically – the support for the New States from the European Union's common funds, which I value very highly, no matter how well targeted and endowed with no matter how much of a multiplying effect, is insufficient to rapidly overcome the existing socio-economic differences between the existing Member States. The enlargement of the European Union ..."@en1

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