Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-228"

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"Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the European Union has entered an historic new phase with a total population of over 450 million inhabitants. Our Union, now enlarged to twenty-five countries, has greater political, geographical and economic substance. We have begun to share our common interests, both in the area of the economy and the internal market, and in terms of the responsibilities that we face as regards the threats to stability and security, which are not confined to borders. I refer to terrorism, organised crime, illegal immigration, drug trafficking and trafficking in human beings. The question of terrorism is an alarming problem that we currently face and should be given maximum priority. This is a threat to security, to our democracies and to the foundations of our civilisation; more specifically respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, respect for the law and respect for human rights are under threat. The European Union must do all that it can to protect its citizens, to tighten border controls and to improve security as regards travel documents, by introducing biometric data and by establishing visa systems and the Schengen Information System (SIS-II). Nevertheless, I should once again like to highlight at this juncture that, if security is to be strengthened, this must always be in compliance with the other two components of our European area, which are freedom and justice. 1 May also saw great change in the area of Justice and Home Affairs. A new institutional framework is now in force: in the area of visas, asylum and immigration, codecision with Parliament will enter into force, as will qualified majority voting in the Council. Parliament’s role will, hopefully, result in greater efficiency in addressing the repeated delays on the Council’s part, which many speakers, including Mr von Boetticher, have highlighted here. Commissioner Vitorino, who is here today, deserves praise for his excellent work in this area and his positive attitude towards working together with Parliament. It is my wish that the excellent work that he has done here helps him to rise to even higher responsibilities in our Community of Europe. ( )"@en1

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