Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-12-18-Speech-1-023"

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". Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Mr President of the Commission, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to start by congratulating the President-in-Office of the Council on his Presidency on behalf of our group. Not only has his been a successful Presidency, but also – and maybe it takes a country such as Finland to achieve this – the goodwill he has shown at the helm of the EU has done us a power of good. We should like to see all the subsequent Presidencies showing this kind of goodwill. I should like to congratulate him on his commitment to our common cause – Europe. The cooperation I have enjoyed with President Borrell has been constant. It has also been very sincere and – I say this from my point of view and hope he can confirm it – very friendly throughout. I should like to give him my sincere thanks for this. I should also like to say a word of thanks to my fellow Members. I wish to thank Mr Schulz, as the representative of his group – and also his predecessor Mr Barón Crespo, but particularly Mr Schulz – for the cooperation I have enjoyed with him. This has always been based on professionalism, oriented towards our common convictions, where such exist – we have diverging convictions, too, of course. Above all, I should like to thank him for the mutual trust that underpins our relationship. The same goes for Mr Watson, whom I should also like to thank for the professional cooperation and the relationship of trust I have always enjoyed with him, as with his predecessor Mr Cox. I wish to thank Mr Crowley, with whom I have always enjoyed a relationship of profound trust. The next Group Chairman should ensure that the Chairman of the Union for Europe of the Nations Group also takes his place in the front row of the European Parliament. Mr Wurtz, even though our opinions differ on many issues, we have nevertheless been fellow Members in this House since 1979. Our cooperation has been characterised by mutual respect throughout, for which I am obliged to him. Common ground has always existed with Mrs Frassoni, Mr Cohn-Bendit and the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance on the issue of human rights. There is even common ground with Mr Bonde on the issue of transparency, although I should like to add that there are few other issues of which this can be said. There is common ground with Mrs Belohorská, representing the non-attached Members, on the conviction that even those who do not have strength in numbers have the right to fair representation. By way of conclusion, I should like to say a few words to the Commission. Mr Commission President, the formation of the present Commission was the toughest period of my political life – but that is now in the past. I am glad that, under the leadership of the Commission President, the Commission has found its feet and is doing an impressive job. Even though the Commission and Parliament have different roles, we nevertheless have a common goal, namely an EU that is strong and capable of action. President Borrell, by way of conclusion, allow me to make a request, which I address to the political groups, the Chairmen and this House. Let us show respect throughout our meetings here and in all our dealings with the other institutions. Mutual respect establishes trust and, in turn, this trust benefits Europe. I am certain that our dream can become reality: the dream of a strong Europe, a democratic Europe, a Europe capable of action, a Europe oriented towards the rule of law. This is a new element in the 21st century. I am convinced that, with this respect, this trust, the EU will develop to the benefit of our values and interests, both internally and externally. Several successes have been achieved during his Council Presidency. We have just seen the signing of REACH, and the Seventh Research Framework Programme and the Services Directive have been adopted, although we know that previous Presidencies and Parliament have also worked on the Services Directive – as they have on REACH and the Seventh Research Framework Programme. Parliament can also take a little pride in the increasingly influential role it has been playing in the legislative process – as the Commission President has just emphasised once more. The President-in-Office has described our difficult relations with Russia. This is indeed a difficult partnership, but we affirm that it must remain a partnership. We also affirm that we do not want to secure our energy supply at the expense of our human rights. We want both. We need orderly relations with Russia, and we shall continue in our role as human-rights lawyer in that country, in Europe and worldwide. On no account should we entertain the idea of bilateral treaties between EU Member States and Russia; there can be only a joint agreement between the EU and Russia. This has to be made clear. In the matter of Turkey, the President-in-Office of the Council has found a compromise solution that is good considering the circumstances. On behalf of our group, I can state most firmly that we want a partnership and, if possible, friendship with Turkey. Turkey is an important country. We do not want a collision or clash with Turkey. We are partners and also friends. Nevertheless, Turkey, too, must honour its commitments, and that is why the path taken by the Presidency and Parliament together at the suggestion of the Commission is a good one. A number of clarifications have been made within neighbourhood policy. We have to understand that it is not possible for all the countries with a European outlook to join the EU. Nevertheless, we affirm that we want good neighbourly relations. The neighbourhood instrument for the countries to the south and east of the EU has been adopted, which represents a great success. The Development Cooperation Instrument for the countries of Asia and Latin America has also been adopted. In addition, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, in particular, provides us with the opportunity of acting without the agreement of the countries concerned. That will enable us to support democracy and human rights worldwide, including financially. I believe that these are very positive developments. The Constitution has featured in the comments of both the President-in-Office and the Commission President. Speaking for the EPP component of our group, let no one mistake our resoluteness in affirming our desire for results, before the European elections, on the ratification of the Constitutional Treaty, the reforms, and also the common values that link us. I hope that the joint declaration of 25 March – that is, the declaration by the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission – proves an early indicator of our will to lead the EU towards a better future. Immigration has been mentioned. It may even be our most important task to make a commitment to refusing to accept the misery and death being suffered at the borders of the EU and to opening our eyes to the poverty and concerns of the countries south of our borders. If we really make the beginnings of a contribution to giving people a future in their own countries too, with our assistance, namely through dialogue – which will hopefully gain in intensity at the EU–Africa Summit – I believe this will be a step in the right direction. Finally, allow me to say a few words of a more personal nature. Last week, the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats decided to elect a new chairman on 9 January. This means that, after seven-and-a-half years, or 90 months, this will be my last speech as Chairman of this great – and sometimes difficult – group. Of course, this is also true of the other groups. Subsequently, on 15 January, our new Group Chairman will thank the President officially on behalf of the PPE-DE Group for his impressive work; whereas I should like to do so today on my own behalf."@en1
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