Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-07-10-Speech-4-147"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, there are aspects of your views that we share, Mr Sarkozy, and I should first like to go into some of these in more detail. I am delighted that you have returned from Japan safe and sound. We have now heard again about the next series of commitments on climate change and it is time we delivered on these. I want to tell you that we expect a different approach from the French Presidency. A social Europe does not mean that we want to establish a social security office in Europe or that we want to bring in family allowance in Europe. A social Europe is about something else: for a long time, people have believed – and rightly so – that Europe can make economic progress possible. We have spent 50 years working to ensure that economic progress in Europe leads to more growth and more jobs, and always to a guarantee of more social security. More and more people are now feeling that quite the opposite is true – that Europe’s economic progress is benefiting a few large conglomerates, certain insurance companies, hedge funds and large enterprises, but not the people. It is the task of the European Union to restore to them the feeling that growth in Europe, the economic progress of this continent, does not serve the banks and the large conglomerates but each individual citizen. Furthermore, if the nation-states have to guarantee this, then you as President-in-Office of the European Council are obliged to tell your fellow Heads of State or Government that they must make sure that social justice, rather than free-market radicalism, takes centre stage in their nation-states. I should like to add that we have a European Court of Justice that delivers verdicts every day, and its verdicts can change the degree of social welfare in the individual Member States even though the Member States do not have any instruments with which to resist. This is why we need a social Europe, Mr President-in-Office, and this is why I expect you to change your mind on this issue by December. Otherwise, the Socialist Group in the European Parliament will not be able to support you. Mr President-in-Office, fears about social exclusion lead to dangerous developments, and one dangerous development is that governments that are on the defensive believe that they can take people’s minds off this fear of social exclusion by hounding minorities. We are currently seeing this in one European Union Member State. I do not know what percentage of the Italian population is made up of Roma children, but I do know that when a government goes and says ‘they will be registered as by a police records department; they must have their fingerprints taken’, supposedly in order to provide them with social protection, that is a grave offence against Europe’s fundamental rights. Your country, France, gave the European community of nations its first charter of fundamental rights. The first declaration of human rights came from your country. As President of that republic, you are part of the tradition of your country. I ask you, in your role as President-in-Office of the European Council, to influence Silvio Berlusconi’s government, and tell it that Europe is a community founded upon the rule of law, not a union of caprice. The European Union faces many major challenges but, if we do not guarantee social welfare in Europe, people will turn away from this Europe and, when they turn away, the Treaty of Lisbon will not be of any use; the whole project will fail. We need courage, therefore. I know that you are a courageous man. We support your priorities; now support ours – a social Europe and climate change, institutional reform and human rights. Then your Presidency will be successful. You are right that the climate package is a priority: it is one that our group shares with you. You are right, too, when you say that individual states cannot achieve this on their own – not even the Germans and the French, by the way, by reaching agreements on their own in Straubing. There are 25 other countries that are part of this and, above all, it is the European Parliament that makes the final decision. We shall do it with you, cooperatively, but do not take any initiatives on the side – not even with Angela Merkel, however good an idea that may seem to be. Since you mention sport, I had a look at the French newspapers this morning, wondering what they would write today about Mr Sarkozy’s visit to the European Parliament. Nothing! They write a lot about the Tour de France, and it is a German who is wearing the yellow jersey there at the moment. I listened closely to you, Mr President-in-Office, as you made your other points, about climate change and particularly about the Treaty of Lisbon. Indeed, if we want to deliver, we need instruments, and that puts us in a dilemma. The citizens want us to be more effective, more transparent, more democratic, and they want the national parliaments to be more democratic and have more influence. That is all correct but, every time we want to deliver, the instrument we need – a revised treaty – is snatched from our hands. You are right: this means that we need a new approach, a fresh start. We need to try to bring this Treaty into force. I think it is great that you are going to Ireland and working constructively with the Irish people. If I may give you a personal tip, leave Bernard Kouchner behind in Paris this time. I had the impression that his previous contributions did not exactly help us to convince the Irish. However, I am speaking about a matter on which we hold completely the opposite view to you. You spoke of four priorities for your Presidency, and I was waiting to see if there was a fifth. You then mentioned several other things you said were important – not priorities, just other things. These ‘other things’ included a social Europe, which you said was a matter for the nation-states. I believe that is a serious error."@en1

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