Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-182"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this enlargement of the European Union is made historic by the attempt to get countries at very different levels of economic development to work together smoothly and effectively. Successful completion of that task requires the creation of a sustainable globalisation model that would stop the growth of tensions, disagreements and conflicts that has accompanied the dismantling of former boundaries. Within the next five years, all of the European Union institutions, including Parliament, will have to face historic economic policy challenges. First, a balanced solution must be found concerning the problem of harmonising competitive conditions for enterprises in countries at different levels of economic development. It is evident that countries with lower income levels will not be able to invest as much in social insurance, healthcare, environmental protection and other societal activities as the wealthier countries. Lower social taxation, however, gives enterprises a competitive advantage in the short term, and this leads to discontentment among enterprises in countries with higher taxation levels. The movement of enterprises to regions with a lower tax burden destabilises developed societies. Finding a balance that takes the interests of all the parties equally into account will, even with an in-depth grasp of economic policy and fine political sense, require great efforts in the coming years on the part of the Members of the European Parliament. As a second challenge, I would highlight the integration of countries with different levels of development of public infrastructure with the conditions of the European economic and monetary union. The new Members who have shrugged off the former planned economy now need to make enormous investments to modernise the infrastructure of education, science, health care, environmental protection, internal security and legal protection. The funding of these investments would be possible at the expense of raising the level of taxes without contravening the basic conditions of the Stability and Growth Pact, but this would endanger the already low competitive ability of enterprises that are still in the build-up phase. Infrastructure investments could be funded by loans, increasing the country’s budget deficit and the national debt, but this would be at odds with the main conditions for the adoption of the single currency. This means that if the single currency membership conditions as well as the need for retaining the competitiveness of enterprises are both strictly observed, the necessary development investments cannot be made. This in turn would jeopardise the sustainability of development and would equate to living at the expense of the nation's future. Strengthening the unity of the European Union …"@en1

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