Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-05-Speech-3-014"

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"Mr President, Mr President of the Commission, new members of the Commission, ladies and gentlemen, today is a solemn occasion, but it is also the day on which our work begins. On Monday, we welcomed new Members to our House, and we would have liked you, Mr President of the Commission, to have been here in Strasbourg to share our joy. You are here today, though, and we are glad that you have come to join us, along with the new and current members of the Commission. We have always regarded the Commission as a sort of government. Romano Prodi took up office as its President five years ago; some of the Member States’ governments have been fiercely critical of him, but we have always supported him, for the members of the Commission are of course politicians, albeit not tied to political parties. I wish the new Commissioners good luck and success in their work, and would like to assure them that our group will give them every conceivable support. We welcome Péter Balázs, Joe Borg, Ján Figel', Dalia Grybauskaitė Danuta Hübner, Siim Kallas, Sandra Kalniete, Markos Kyprianou, Janez Potočnik and Pavel Telička. From the Member States that belonged to the European Union even before 1 May, we give an equally warm welcome to Jacques Barrot and Joaquín Almunia, as well, of course, to Commissioner Dimas, with whom this plenary has already had dealings. I see it as very important that we should get back to a consensus on what the European Commission’s role is. I know that this is a particular topic of discussion in those countries that have now joined the European Union, and I regard the talk in some of them about how the Commissioners from the new Member States are too European, as utterly mistaken. To those among the new Commissioners who face such reproaches at home, I would like to say that we are right alongside you if you are putting the well-being of the European Union first, for that is the role you have to perform under the constitution, so to speak. You represent the European Union as a whole, and in your work Europe’s interest must come first; you can always rely on the support of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats. If you have opposition to contend with in your own countries, we will be there to defend you! I hope you will not mind my saying, by way of a recommendation, that you do of course have an important role in relation to your own countries, one that you share with the Members of this House, as, so to speak, communicators of the European ideal to the states from which we come. So I hope that the members of the Commission from the new Member States will, together with Members of the European Parliament, be successful in explaining to their countries the need for European policies and in getting the message across that those who consider only their national interests are actually damaging them. Only if you ally your own nation’s interests to those of Europe as a whole will you be able to advance its cause; there will be no allies in Europe for those who are blind to all but their own country, and so they will be unable to do anything for it. That is why interests have to be represented at local, regional, national and European level simultaneously, and I wish the new members of the Commission much success as they go about doing that. A few moments ago, I described the members of the Commission as politicians but not party politicians. Mr President of the Commission, I cannot spare you the serious request that you devote the remaining months of your Presidency to continuing to preside over the Commission in a truly effective manner and to concentrate on your work there rather than on domestic political disputes in Italy, your own country. The European Union Summit is to be held on 17-18 June, and so, Mr President, it might well be advisable for us to hold another Conference of Presidents on the afternoon of Thursday 17 June and discuss how to organise the proceedings as a whole. I say this as a suggestion, so that we can, together, give some thought to that. Let me say, by way of conclusion, that the Commission and the European Parliament are allies. With this in mind, our group will be alongside the new Commission, ensuring that we succeed in the joint enterprise of shaping this European Union, with the Commission playing a decisive role, possessing as it does the power of initiative. We in the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats will be supportive, and what we want to see from the Commission is close cooperation. If we get it, then we will, together, do great things for our European Union. With that in mind, I wish the new members of the Commission every success. We are right behind you."@en1

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