Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-206"

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". Mr President, if we could christen this evening's debate and give it a title, we would say it is a debate about solidarity. This was indeed the word which was heard more than any other this evening. Of course, the need to strengthen it was emphasised a great many times and I hope, as Mr Libicki and Mr Kroupa said earlier, that we shall be able to make Europe and our countries better for us and our children and that we shall be able to live with the democracy, security and freedom which the European Union and the common wish of all the peoples of Europe guarantee us, without sacrificing freedoms. I have followed the debate very closely, from which I can say that it clearly emerged that economic and social policy cannot be divorced from one another. Hence, the approach which we adopted last year, when we decided to update and combine these two policy sectors, was the right one. Now, in addition to this observation, I should like to make a number of other final comments. The slow economic growth observed during the first years of the application of the Lisbon strategy and, consequently, of the Social Policy Agenda, may create doubts, as Mrs Lulling said earlier, about the deeper logic on which the updating approach adopted in 2000 is based. The fact that several interim objectives will not be achieved in 2005, such as unemployment, as Mrs Ainardi and others pointed out, or the increase in the rate of employment of older workers, which is far lower than the percentage we were aiming for, may feed criticism. Nonetheless, the strategic choice about economic and social prosperity is the right choice. Not only must we remain faithful, as Mr Marini stressed, to the principles on which the economic and social model of Europe is based and which are contained in the Lisbon strategy, but also we must remain faithful to the objectives of the specific strategy. This does not preclude the fact that adjustments may be required as far as the specific policy measures and their methods of implementation are concerned. It is, however, clear that the European Union should make use of the economic recovery and the dynamics of enlargement to give new momentum to the Lisbon strategy, focusing mainly on certain priorities, such as improving investments in networks and technological know-how, as numerous members emphasised, including Mrs Grossetête, Mr Szabó and numerous others, strengthening the competitiveness of industry and services and extending active professional life. For the new Member States in general, they are undergoing and facing, as far as the implementation of structural reforms is concerned, the same challenges which the older Member States faced. Of course, as numerous members emphasised, including Mr Krasts and Mrs Šlesere, the new Member States do, of course, have greater difficulties in certain cases. Of course, certain countries, such as Poland, as Mrs Ciemniak said, have high rates of growth, 6%, and have achieved faster reforms in the field of structural reforms. In this sector of structural reforms, the new Member States must focus in particular on creating conditions for strengthening the increase in productivity, in that productivity levels are generally very low, and in dealing with the high levels of structural and long-term unemployment, to which Mr Siekierski referred. I should like at this point to refer also to a matter raised at the beginning of the debate by Mrs Jensen and repeated subsequently: the question of the free movement of workers. As you know, provision has been made for transitional arrangements. This has been translated into various national practices which cover the entire spectrum, from zero to seven years. Irrespective, however, of any graduations in the transitional periods, which I hope will prove not to be necessary and will be abolished as quickly as possible or limited as far as possible, I must stress that freedom of movement and the right to establish and work in another Member State are fundamental freedoms which are safeguarded under Community law. Nor should we forget that they are an integral part of the internal market and European nationality. Furthermore, I should like to stress once again what I said at the beginning of my speech, that economies with a large degree of unification and interdependence, which share a common market need efficient coordination in making and implementing economic policy, both at national level and at the level of the European Union. All the constituent elements of the economic coordinating framework are closely connected to this overall strategy. I too agree with those who, like Mrs Thyssen, pointed out that the only way to speed up progress is to carry out other reforms. We must extend our coordination beyond financial matters to cover broader questions of economic policy and we need to take account of both the social and the environmental dimension which Mrs Myller spoke of, referring to what I said and emphasised earlier and which I would like to clarify better now, that the countries which provide a high level of social protection, such as Denmark and Sweden, also manage to be extremely competitive. Mr President, we must find the political will needed to extend our coordination to all sectors covered by the Lisbon strategy, so that we can achieve more growth and greater employment."@en1

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