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". Mr President, Mr President of the Commission, honourable Members of the European Parliament, ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to be able to pay your House a return visit, on this occasion in Brussels. We have reached something like the halfway point in the German Presidency, and, after last weekend, I believe we can claim to have taken a substantial step towards mastering two major tasks facing us all during these six months. I would take this opportunity presented to me in your House this afternoon to say that we, in the European Union will make it abundantly clear to Iran that its arrest and detention of 15 British seamen is totally unacceptable. Here too, we stand in unconditional solidarity with our British friends. This also demonstrates that we are strong when we present a united front. There are many things that we can only achieve together. Contrariwise, that means that, if Member States of the European Union are to feel responsible for one another in difficult times, then we have to work together in the greatest possible number of spheres. Integration, support in difficult situations and solidarity can only be expected if each country is prepared, to some extent, to look after the interests of the others. It is by this principle that we should be guided in all the tough political decisions that await us. In the Berlin Declaration we turned our faces towards the future and said that there were two things we wanted to do. The first is that we want to put the European Union on a ‘renewed common basis’ by 2009, and, although I know that the vast majority in your House are in favour of this – and I would like to thank you for your support – I do want to emphasise once more that an election to the European Parliament in 2009 in which we were unable to tell people that we were in a position to enlarge the European Union, to tell them how many members the next Commission would have, to assure them that responsibility for energy policy was in European hands, and that, in matters of internal security and legal policy, we were working together on the basis of majority decisions, in the manner in which circumstances made necessary … … such an election would be one that would do no more than put greater distance between the institutions and Europe's citizens. That is why it is crucial that we all demonstrate our ability to find common solutions. The Germans have been given a mandate to present a roadmap for this. I want to emphasise right now that we will not find a solution to the problem, but this roadmap must set out the direction we are to take. While we will strain every sinew in working on this, I would also ask this House to continue supporting us as we go forward, for I can tell you that we need all the help we can get. Now that we have set forth the European Union's future tasks in the Berlin Declaration, there are several things that have to be done between now and the June Council. I would now like to briefly say something about what those things are, but not, however, before saying how pleased I am that, thanks to the considerable readiness on the part of all Member States to compromise, there are already some successes to report. It is good – and, in particular, it is in the interests of the public – that your House can now debate roaming tariffs, that money transfers between European countries are simpler, that it has been possible, with your help, to release funds for agriculture, and that we have made some progress in what is known as the Open Skies Agreement, that is to say on improving air traffic between Europe and America. It is by such practical points as these that people judge us, and that is why I am very glad that we have been able to make progress on these fronts, and I hope that we will make further concrete progress before the end of our Presidency. We now have three important summits to look forward to. The first is the EU/USA summit on 30 April at which we want to deepen the transatlantic economic partnership. The progress made in the sphere of air traffic augurs well for this, but we do know that we could create a lot more synergy between Europe and the United States of America. I would like to express my very warm thanks to the Commission, and also to those Members of your House who support this. The issue of trans-Atlantic economic partnership has had new life breathed into it, and we are very confident that we will be able to look back on the summit at the end of April as one at which really tangible things were achieved. The first is that of energy and climate policy, on which Germany's Foreign Minister, Mr Steinmeier, has already reported to your House, and all I want to do at this point is to stress once more that in the key sphere of energy and climate policy the Council has succeeded in formulating important conclusions based on the Commission's proposals, and has thus demonstrated the European Union's capability to act in this field. The reason why that is so important is that we do, of course, know that Europe can lead the way in this area only if it can set itself ambitious targets. We do know, of course, that actually achieving those targets will require more work, but, after all, that is quite normal in day-to-day politics: one takes one step and, if that is successful then further steps follow, but the spirit in which we have managed to agree on a 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020 as well as binding targets on increasing the share of renewable energies in total consumption to 20% should enable us both to present a united front in the international negotiations ahead and to successfully break down these figures into individual targets for the Member States, and that is our next task. So, then, I will take this opportunity to ask for your House’s support. We have already had a lot of backing on this front, and, with your encouragement, I am certain the Council will be able to formulate the necessary conclusions. Now for my second point, which is that it goes without saying that the issue of energy and climate change will be on the agenda at this summit. We know that the European Union has some very ambitious ideas on this subject, and we will try to canvass support for them and try to make them globally accepted. I am quite certain that emerging economies and developing countries will join us only if the industrialised countries set ambitious targets together, and that is why we will canvass support for this. I deliberately say ‘canvass’ because you all know that this is a mammoth task. We cannot promise too much at this stage. We will also – although this is not a connected issue – take the EU/USA summit as an opportunity to do some preparatory work on the G8 summit in June in Heiligendamm in Germany, and we – that is to say, the German Presidency of G8 – have arranged things so that there will, at the beginning of May, be a meeting of the sherpas, in other words not just the Member States, but also the five so-called ‘outreach states’, namely China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, at which the technological aspects of climate change will be discussed, particularly with a view to exchanging new technologies and innovations, and then, with a view to the G8 summit, even more specific preparatory work on climate change and energy. In May, too, there will also be a summit between the European Union and Russia. Not only the transatlantic partnership, but also the strategic partnership with Russia is absolutely crucial to us. I hope that we will be able to surmount the obstacles that still hold the Commission back from negotiations with Russia – I am grateful to the Commission for putting such incredible hard work and dedication into this – for the negotiations on a new partnership agreement are, of course, of the essence, particularly as regards issues of energy security and energy partnership, which are the reason why the EU/Russia summit – to be held at Samara in Russia – is of the utmost importance. Then there will be another summit – this one involving the European Union and Japan, which is intended to address itself above all else to the issue of how to improve our economic cooperation, for people in Europe will largely judge all of us who represent Europe by whether we can safeguard for the coming decades that which has made Europe strong – a community of values, a community of people whose individual dignity is protected, which has brought people prosperity and social cohesion. In my Berlin speech I said that we have a responsibility to bring Europe, and our ideals, to the world and to win others over to what we believe. We cannot do this by waiting to see how things develop, by isolating ourselves or by becoming absorbed in our own problems, but we can succeed only if we actively seek to gain support for our own values and ideas. Europe can achieve this only if it is capable of taking action, if it is not preoccupied with itself all day and if it does not stand in its own way. That is why it is so important that we, as soon as possible, restore the European Union's capability to act, so that Europe can ensure that the people of this European Union can look forward to a secure and free future, for that is what they have every right to expect. It is that purpose that unites us. Thank you for your attention. Let us take a look at the second key step we took last weekend. While the Berlin Declaration was on the one hand, an expression of the success story that the European Union has been, it also, on the other, highlighted the major tasks we still face together. I would like, before all else, to say a very warm ‘thank you’ to the President of your House, Mr Poettering, and also to all your group chairmen, for getting this Berlin Declaration endorsed by Parliament, the Commission and the members of the Council counts as a triumph. I believe the sense of this Berlin Declaration as a joint achievement is of value in itself because it demonstrates the commitment of everyone involved in Europe to work together for its future. Looking at the Berlin Declaration, we see that the definition of our common values forms an important part of it. It also states, in very ambitious terms, that we share an ideal of European society and that we will work together to make it a reality. This ideal of European society is founded upon values that are close to our hearts – the values of freedom, solidarity and justice. Day in and day out, we are asked again and again just how we propose to put flesh upon them, and that is why I was so very moved by the way in which today's sitting of this House began with a strongly worded statement by it and its Members on what is happening in Zimbabwe. I stressed in my speech in Berlin on Sunday that we must not allow ourselves to become indifferent to the plight of the people in Darfur. We cannot simply shrug it off; we have to do something about it, and while the Presidency of the Council will do everything it can to get tougher resolutions accepted by the UN Security Council as a means of making progress on this front at long last, we must – if this proves impossible at Security Council level – give thought to the possibility of sanctions being imposed by the European Union, for we must act; we must do something about this. I also made it clear on Sunday that we are aware that 25 March is Independence Day in Belarus and that we – I believe we all – wanted to tell our friends in Belarus that they too have a right to see the European ideals become reality for them, and that we will give them our deliberate support as they go down this road."@en1
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