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". Mr President, President-in-Office of the Council, ladies and gentlemen, I am glad to be here with you today in the European Parliament for the presentation of the six-month French Presidency of the Council of the European Union. I think that this will be a presidency full of drive and determination and rich in concrete results that we will all work towards. You wanted France to come back to Europe, President-in-Office, and this is unquestionably excellent news for us all. This is why I believe that, yet again, we can set a good example of solidarity between European and African farmers, illustrating the fact that the common agricultural policy (CAP) and development policy can and must work in tandem, because, as President Sarkozy has just said, food security is a global issue and we need to tackle it together. Not alone, but together. Therefore, it is true that there are concerns, but it is also true that, more than ever before, the European Union has a central role in resolving them. Rather than wallow in what I sometimes call ‘crisisophilia’ – there is even talk of the phenomenon of declinism in Europe – let us emphasise the value of the concrete and positive action of the EU. In any case, this is the best way of resolving the international issues raised by Ireland’s non-ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. We must address this because the Lisbon Treaty could make us work more effectively, more democratically, although we must not use it as an excuse for failing to respond immediately to the needs of our citizens. European citizens are looking to us for answers. The best response we can give them is to talk to them frankly and show that we have political courage. The French Presidency has both qualities in abundance. In a Europe on trial, we must provide evidence that Europe works. We must focus on policies that bring Europe closer to its citizens and change their daily lives. More than ever before, we are plotting a course for a Europe based on results. Personally, I am confident. The priorities of your Presidency will allow Europe to meet the major challenges that it faces, while preparing for the issues of the future. I welcome the priority given by the French Presidency to the introduction of an integrated energy and climate change policy. As you said, President-in-Office, this is the top priority of your Presidency, and we know how determined you are to finalise this strategic agreement by the end of the year, which would put the EU in a good position to embark on the Copenhagen negotiations in a year’s time. The Commission will lend its full support so that we can reach an ambitious and balanced agreement with the European Parliament and the Member States. I have made this a priority for my institution, and I would like to thank the President-in-Office once again for his tireless support for the energy and climate package unveiled by the European Commission. We must also move towards a policy of controlled immigration in Europe. We must first address immigration, which an ageing Europe needs, in certain key economic sectors, and which must be accompanied by proper integration so that we can be proud in our humanist Europe of the integration that we offer to those who genuinely want to come here to work. The adoption of the ‘blue card’ under the French Presidency would be an important step in this direction. However, we also need to tackle illegal immigration and the exploitation that often arises from this, particularly by furthering the proposal to penalise those who employ illegal workers. It is here that we must effectively make the most effort; we must not threaten the poor workers who only want to work in Europe, but penalise those who want to exploit them. This practice is a disgrace to Europe. Let there be no mistake: we must be realistic in addressing the issue of immigration. I am firmly convinced, ladies and gentlemen, that our inability to address this issue seriously and responsibly is one of the greatest threats to Europe. We will not solve the immigration issue by being permissive on all fronts. This would be the best excuse for extremist forces, for xenophobic forces. We need to be tough on illegal immigration, and at the same time show that we are generous and united in the integration of migrant communities who want to contribute to Europe’s growth and development. I believe that we need to be clear on this; we need to be tough on crime while continuing to show respect for human rights, which are the trademark of European civilisation and our plans for European integration. Naturally these are sensitive issues, which are easy prey for polemic and misunderstanding. This is why the Commission wanted to put forward a balanced proposal and why it has outlined 10 key principles so that we can go forward together. I was delighted to see the French Presidency and the French justice and interior ministers endorse this integrated approach during their informal meeting in Cannes this week. European citizens and the European Parliament assembled here today expect a great many things from the French Presidency. As I said during our meeting in Paris on 1 July, the Commission will stand by the French Presidency, offering its full support to ensure the success of the European Union during these six months. There will be no shortage of challenges. I am keen to point out, ladies and gentlemen, that in Europe, in the Schengen Area, where freedom of movement is a reality, it is absurd to continue with 27 different immigration policies. What we need is a European immigration policy. Also in the pipeline is our Social Agenda. There can be no dynamic, competitive economic model without genuine social investment to prevent the risks of poverty, exclusion and marginalisation. France has made the new Social Agenda unveiled by the European Commission a few days ago one of its priorities. I welcome this. To prepare Europeans for the future, we must offer them opportunities, access to quality services, education, healthcare and continuing solidarity. Nobody in Europe must be left by the wayside. Europe is all about opportunity and solidarity. Ladies and gentlemen, many other projects will be launched over the coming six months. I cannot describe them all here, but if I can briefly outline two, I should like to commend the projects for European defence and the Union for the Mediterranean, which will be unveiled next Sunday in Paris. I see these as two opportunities for Europe to affirm its role in the world. Here too, it is up to us to translate this ambition into concrete action. I wish the French Presidency of the Council every success, guaranteeing the full support of the Commission throughout the next six months, which promise to be exciting. The first duty for politicians is to face up to challenges and redouble efforts to meet them successfully. We can do a great deal together. I would like to pay tribute here to the efforts made over the past few months by French Government at the highest level to work closely with the European institutions. The institutions, the Presidency and the Member States must all work hand in hand. This is the key to the joint success that we owe the citizens of Europe, and I would like to pay tribute to the commitment expressed here again today by the President-in-Office so that together, the Council, Parliament and the Commission can find concrete solutions to the concrete problems that our citizens have to face each day. Globalisation is here to stay and international competition is becoming increasingly tough. The world faces new challenges such as the scarcity of fossil fuels and climate change. We must act now to find common solutions to these challenges. All of these factors mean that Europe needs to reform its economies to become more competitive, modernise its social models and invest in education, research and innovation. Europe has many aces up its sleeve, particularly as one of the world’s leading trading powers. However, it must have the courage to adapt. If we want to offer protection, we must adapt. That is the key. There is no point in denying that Europe is going through a difficult period: the Irish ‘no’ vote and the global economic climate, soaring oil and commodity prices, the sharp rise in food prices and inflationary pressures, which are the greatest enemy of purchasing power. Inflation is also the greatest enemy of social justice as, when there is very strong inflation, those who suffer most are those on low wages or living on a pension. All of these factors are casting a shadow over our economies and forcing our politicians, at both European and national level, to make difficult choices. We must confront these realities head on and apply ourselves to them with realism and determination. We have just come back from the G8 summit in Japan, where I could clearly see that the influence enjoyed by the European Union, as well as the expectations and respect that it engenders around the world, are in marked contrast with the gloom that is often expressed within the EU. I can tell you now that, now more than ever, the European Union is seen outside Europe as a positive and decisive player, a player with enormous influence on the world stage. Let us take two concrete subjects that were at the centre of the G8 summit: climate change and development – two issues on which Europe has taken the initiative at global level. The United States has now joined us in the fight against climate change by largely subscribing to our views. Last year in Heiligendamm, I remember that we had great difficulty – President Sarkozy was there – in convincing the Americans and the Russians to accept the principle of mandatory targets for 2050. Now we have achieved this. It was possible thanks to our role as European leader; I am proud of this as President of a European institution. It is a success that we yet again owe to European unity. The second example is development, and specifically soaring food prices, which threaten all of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We were also able to act as a catalyst in this area thanks to the conclusions of last month’s European Council, which, and I quote, welcomed ‘the Commission’s intention to come forward with a proposal for a new fund to support agriculture in developing countries.’ The European Commission will adopt this proposal next week. I am counting on the full support of both arms of the budgetary authority so that Europe can swiftly provide the necessary aid to farmers, particularly those in Africa, in close cooperation with the competent multilateral organisations. This support is essential to guarantee ‘the green revolution’ that Africa needs for its stability and prosperity, which, as you all know, is also in Europe’s direct interests. As the European Council requested, our proposal will remain within the limits of the current financial perspective. Our approach consists of allocating the savings that the rise in international prices allows Europe to generate as part of its agricultural support policy to those who are hit hardest by this increase. There are emergency and disaster situations all around the world. If you could have heard what the President of the World Bank said, if you could have heard some of the leaders of African countries and other countries represented in enlarged meetings talk about the hunger and starvation that now represent a real threat to so many people in the world, you would understand to what extent European aid is necessary and indispensable."@en1

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