Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-04-23-Speech-1-172"

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"Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, since October 2005, the European Union has been conducting accession negotiations with Croatia and Turkey without prejudging the results of this process. It has also recognised Macedonia’s status as a candidate country and the desire of the other Balkan States to become candidate countries. With the exception of the specific case of Turkey, I share this outlook. Having said that, while I am convinced that, without the Balkans, European unification would remain incomplete, I do nevertheless believe that the path will be long and full of pitfalls and, above all, that the possibility of further enlargements obliges us to provide precise and urgent solutions to three key issues, relating to the institutional, political and financial reforms that the Union urgently needs. Firstly, we need to conclude a debate that has been sidestepped for too long by our Member States and to establish what the definitive borders of the Union will be for the future. This decision will enable us at the same time to specify the content of the privileged partnership to be proposed as part of an enhanced neighbourhood policy. The second issue must prompt us to clarify the future of the principle of economic, social and territorial cohesion within the Union. It is unacceptable for the successive enlargements to result in an ever greater number of regions becoming ineligible for European solidarity because of mere statistics, without the existing disparities having been truly eliminated. We must think about having a more progressive model for cohesion policy, with longer transition periods, as much for the new beneficiaries as for those who are no longer entitled to it. Finally, the last issue naturally concerns the financial reform. Given the current state of our budget, any future enlargements could not be financed without the effectiveness of the current cohesion policies being threatened. The Union needs new own resources and a budget that matches its ambitions. All of these issues can be summed up in one: do we want to provide the Union with the capacity to integrate new Member States? We need to make a decision; we have a duty of responsibility to our fellow citizens and to the countries knocking on our door."@en1

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