Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-184"

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"Ladies and gentlemen, the European workforce is expensive. Sometimes this is referred to as a negative aspect, as a factor that hinders competitiveness, yet this is a good thing. This provides a decent standard of living for the workforce, for those who are no longer or not yet employed, and for those also who have to be absent from work temporarily. Price is, of course, an important factor in competitiveness, but it is only one of the factors, the other one being quality. This is why we were happy to see the Lisbon Strategy in 2000 state that the future of the European economic and social system will stand or fall on success or failure in making Europe the most competitive, knowledge-based economy by 2010. The key to this, however, is education, training, life-long learning and furthermore, research and development. We are now in the year 2004. In the research and development race the gap in favour of the United States has opened even wider. The harmonisation of the education and training policies of the European states is at a very low level, and the life-long learning concept is not spreading at the speed it should. As a result of all this it looks as if the US is coming out of recession, in the Far East the dynamic growth of the economy based on cheap labour is continuing, whilst Europe continues to stagnate. The European social system is, therefore, a value that we must maintain, yet the European economy is less and less able to produce the financial resources for this. It would not be good for us to remain helpless in the face of this situation, without knowing what to do, but it would be even worse if, despite being able to see the way out, we did very little of what was needed. Ladies and gentlemen, the Hungarian nation had a poet with fire in his heart, Sándor Petőfi, who roused the nation to action during the days of the 1848 revolution with these words: ‘Today is the right time, but tomorrow may be too late’. In the next five years it will certainly not be the right time for Europe, but perhaps it will not be too late either. Let us leave this as a legacy to our successors convening on 19 July: it will depend on their wisdom, determination and ability to cooperate whether the unfavourable processes can be reversed or the European social system will remain just a congenial experiment that is doomed to end in failure because of lack of economic support."@en1

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