Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-03-26-Speech-3-011"

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"Mr President, Mr President of the European Council, Mr President of the European Commission, ladies and gentlemen, the recent European Council was largely devoted to defining the new cycle of the Lisbon Strategy and took place in a very difficult international economic and financial context. The indicators within the Union are, however, somewhat encouraging: more jobs, a growth rate of 2.9% in 2007 and falling budget deficits. This progress is above all the fruit of the business restructuring efforts of course, but it is also the result of a policy of reform and sound administration on the part of most of the Member States. These efforts have been encouraged by the Commission and I congratulate it on its determination and steady work in that direction. The wind blowing from the other side of the Atlantic does not augur well and the growth forecasts for 2008 are lower than we might have hoped. In such a context, it is very tempting to withdraw into oneself, to suspend the reforms and to protect one’s borders while waiting for brighter days. There is a great temptation – and our political opponents give in to it much too often – to spend money that we do not have, to make the people of Europe believe that everything can continue as before. Our parliamentary group is genuinely in favour of a responsible policy, a policy of movement, reform and solidarity. We would ask the Commission to present to us its economic policy guidelines and its employment guidelines so that they can be adopted as soon as possible. The national authorities must explain more clearly to their populations the benefits of the reforms envisaged under the Lisbon Strategy. These reforms are often misrepresented but not sufficiently implemented. It is still difficult for them to make their presence felt. Our group will nevertheless continue to defend them and to oppose those who, in order to flatter their electorate, strive to tone them down or postpone them indefinitely. We want to go even further and send the European knowledge policy into overdrive. We propose promoting the free movement of researchers, students and scientists and adopting a unified regime on the protection of intellectual property rights. We call for the removal of obstacles to the mutual recognition of qualifications and the modernisation of our European universities with financial backing from the EU. Ladies and gentlemen, the European Council’s second task was to clarify the conditions in which the ambitious climate change targets adopted in March 2007 will be implemented. These details were essential in order to enable the firms concerned eventually to plan for the future. Indeed, making significant efforts to ‘decarbonise’ the economy must not affect the competitiveness of energy-intensive industries. Finally, I welcome the agreement on the Union for the Mediterranean proposed by France to the Council on the basis that the Barcelona process has not produced the desired results. This initiative seeks to give a boost to Euro-Mediterranean relations. We are all aware of the extent to which the challenges of development, migration and political stability in these countries affect us directly. We therefore hope that this project will mark a turning point in our relations with the Mediterranean countries, which must become more concrete, more effective and, above all, more political, with a view to achieving real peace in the Middle East."@en1

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