Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-12-13-Speech-3-043"

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"Mr President, although we cannot predict which countries we will be able to welcome into the European Union, or when, the main thing is that three facts stand out. The first is that, after Bulgaria and Romania, there will be other accessions to the European Union; the second is that all European states that share our values and meet the Copenhagen criteria are entitled to apply to become Member States of the European Union, and the third is that the Treaty of Nice is not suitable as a basis for future enlargements. It follows from that that extensive and in-depth reform of the 27-member EU is long overdue. That would have been an accurate appraisal even six years ago, at the time of the adoption of the Laeken Declaration; it is now more relevant than ever. I believe that the deepening of the EU before any more enlargements take place is an indispensable requirement, and that the constitutional treaty is the key to the European Union’s future viability. It is not acceptable that unilateral demands be made of the candidates for accession and that they alone be expected to work on themselves, and I therefore hope that it will prove possible, during next year, to find a way out of the constitutional crisis that represents a solution acceptable to all twenty-seven Member States, but the fact is that the complex political will make this extremely difficult. What will be crucial in terms of integration capacity will be that it should not involve aiming at a merely minimalist – perhaps merely institutional – reform of the European Union. There must be no retreat from the constitutional treaty in 2009. It is also absolutely vital that we should succeed in narrowing the gulf between the EU and its citizens; the message must go out loud and clear – and not only to the people of France and the Netherlands – that we are willing to learn from the ‘no’ votes in those countries, and that that means that we are willing to look at other ways of doing European politics in the future. That, in my view, means above all that the creation of a social Europe must be put at the heart of European politics – and must stay there."@en1

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