Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-03-26-Speech-3-047"
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"I would like to thank all the Members of Parliament who offered their comments on the conclusions of the last session of the European Council. I must say that some of them were very substantial. I am especially grateful to Mr Daul and others who supported the continuation of the Lisbon reforms. I think it would be wrong to respond to the current challenges in the financial markets and the global economy in general by saying that we should abandon or temporarily interrupt the reforms. I am very pleased with this support for the second cycle of the Lisbon Strategy. Therefore, whichever way we look at it, we can see that we can be successful only if we achieve success over the entire planet. This is where the European Union made a great step forward with the commitments it undertook last year, when the world was seeing many changes. For example, Australia joined the Kyoto agreement. We can also detect positive moves in the United States. China, which will quite soon overtake Europe in greenhouse gas emissions, has also made some positive signs lately. All this is largely because Europe took the first step, and the European Union must continue to lead. As regards the decisions and conclusions of the European Council and their effect on European citizens, I think there are few conclusions which will have such a great and long-term effect on the individual as these. If we want to be successful, we must change our habits and adjust our way of life. This is very demanding, but circumstances require it. Therefore, these conclusions will have a long-term effect on every individual. Based on the debates in the last few years on the importance of combating climate change, I am of the opinion that the mood of the European Union is such that we can follow this road. Finally, I would like to comment on the remarks made about the Mediterranean Union. This was a statement adopted by the European Council, not a conclusion. I would like to remind those who were listening to the statement of priorities for the Slovenian Presidency in January that the statement, on which the Council was united, included everything we considered to be the criteria for a good project. All the Member States of the European Union are included; there is no duplication of the present institutions. That is why it is no longer the European Union, but the Barcelona Process, that is to say the Mediterranean Union. It is building on something that already exists, which means that we will not have to duplicate administration and it will not demand additional costs. Thirdly, the European Commission is involved in further preparations, which of course ensures the practical and operational involvement of the whole of the European Union. What some of you pointed out as a problem was also emphasised at the session of the European Council. The eastern dimension, that is to say the Black Sea dimension, of the European neighbourhood policy was also given appropriate attention. Our Polish colleagues addressed this project or, more precisely, this part with a suggestion and we gave them the task of making a more concrete proposal. On the basis of the preparations to be carried out in the meantime, the European Union will debate this topic in June. I think the European Council paid full attention to the concerns and positions expressed by the European Parliament in the matter of the Mediterranean Union. As regards social policy in the European Council’s conclusions, I should say that I have been personally involved in the work of the European Council for four years now and we have never before spoken so much about the social dimension of the Lisbon Policy. This goes for all the conclusions and not only item 14. The social policy was included in all items where it was necessary to do so. However, it is still a fact that for prosperity in Europe, we need real economic growth. The appropriate social policy can be built only on the basis of real economic growth, which we will achieve through the Lisbon reforms. All commitments to the welfare state are in vain if there is no growth and if there are no resources for the social policy, so I think that these are in the correct order. I would also like to add that the social policy has been included in numerous other projects. During the Slovenian Presidency, we have come very close to solutions on some issues. For example, I hope that we are just about to complete the directive on the transfer of supplementary pension insurance rights. A consensus on this question is just a step away. I hope this project will be concluded soon. Together with the European Parliament we are working on declaring 2010 as the year of the fight against poverty and social exclusion. This would give greater importance to some of the conclusions relating to social policy that were reached at this session of the European Council. Regarding climate change and some of the sceptical comments made about the conclusions relating to it, I must say that this session of the European Council did not change any of the commitments undertaken last year, so it could not be said that it was less ambitious. We moved a step closer when we agreed on the schedule for adopting this environment and energy package and, of course, when we agreed the key principles. Without this agreement there cannot be any concrete steps forward. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the only successful fight against climate change is a global one. The numbers make it very clear: The United States emit into the atmosphere 5.817 billion tonnes of CO the European Union 5.177 billion tonnes, China 5.059 billion tonnes, the Russian Federation 1.543 billion tonnes and India 1.147 billion tonnes. Even if the European Union stops all emissions of greenhouse gases, the world will still be faced with the dangers brought on by climate change. These proportions are therefore clear and the key target is not just to reduce emissions from the European Union, but to reach a global agreement – without that we will achieve nothing. When we look at CO emissions, we can see that the United States emit 20 million tonnes per head of population, the European Union 10 million tonnes, the Russian Federation 10 million tonnes, China 3.2 million tonnes and India 1.2 million tonnes. These figures tell us that those of us who have been emitting more CO per head of population for a considerable length of time need to make greater changes. The European Union committed itself to these greater changes last year, and this year we have planned a way of achieving them. I think the fears that we may have made a retrograde step when we expressed concern about energy-intensive industries moving from Europe to environments with lower standards are unfounded. The relocation of energy-intensive industries to areas with lower ecological standards means more than job losses in Europe. It also means that we have contributed nothing to reducing emissions, because these industries will emit their greenhouse gases somewhere else."@en1
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