Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-07-10-Speech-4-158"
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"− Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your speeches. Having seen what has happened in a number of large private banks, I would say that those who gave lectures were very poorly placed to give them, and that they should now prepare themselves to receive them. I would like to add, Mr Schulz – I say this under the watchful eye of Mr Watson – that I am against protectionism. I am in favour of freedom, but we can no longer continue in a world in which there are no rules, in which credit rating agencies do whatever they like, in which a number of financial establishments want to make billions of euros in a few seconds by speculating on the trading floors. The Europe that we want, and, Mr Schulz, the French Presidency will make proposals on this subject, proposals for regulations to raise the moral standards of financial capitalism, because we can see now that the reasons that global growth has halted for a year is because of the sub-prime crisis and the crisis of confidence in the financial institutions, which have done whatever they like, whenever they like, lending money to anyone under any conditions. If Europe has any sense, it needs to restore some order to what has become the law of anything goes. I would like to say to Mr Schulz that I entirely agree with him. Regarding the European immigration pact, I would like to say to Mr Schulz and Mr Cohn-Bendit that the French Presidency will involve the European Parliament. This is the best way to avoid excesses. You talked about the excesses, Mr Schulz, that are the practice in one country – it is not my place to mention it – but if we all agree on a minimum corpus for the cost, those excesses that you pointed out will no longer take place, and, Mr Cohn-Bendit, I am sure that Mr Daul would agree, why would the European Parliament not be involved in this? I am not sure that it would be institutionally possible. Mr Cohn-Bendit, I am aware of your generosity. In general you are always ready to give advice, especially to me. Even if I suffered from such modesty as yours, I would not need this advice. I knew that unanimity was required, but irrespective of that there is no need for unanimity in order for me to say to the European Parliament that the question of immigration is sufficiently important for it to be discussed politically, for you to be involved in it, even before there is a Lisbon Treaty or any modification of it. It is a political commitment that I am making and I will come with Bernard Kouchner and Brice Hortefeux to present the pact to you, to discuss it with you. We will consider with the President of Parliament and perhaps the Conference of Presidents the conditions under which you would like us to put this in place. Mr Watson, difficulties provide an opportunity. Obviously, when one chooses to be the President of a country and has the responsibility of the Presidency of the Union for six months, if one does not like problems or difficulties it is better not to be European and not to be involved in politics. Personally I think that these difficulties are an opportunity. Can you see why? It is because they are an opportunity for us to move beyond our national selfishness and our partisan prejudices. Allow me to say that, if everything were going well, my appearance before the European Parliament would not necessarily have gone better, because a year from the elections, when you have the wind behind you and everything is going well, everyone is thinking of their partisan or national interests. As I believe that here, in the main, the vast majority of MEPs are Europeans, they are aware of the gravity of the situation. Everyone has to make an effort. I am not sure whether, Mr Schulz and Mr Cohn-Bendit, you would have been as open towards the French Presidency if things had been easier. Personally I think that these difficulties can be an opportunity. There is one point, Mr Watson, on which I clearly made an error. I should have talked at more length about the European energy policy. There are a number of you here who wear particular T-shirts because you are against a type of power. I respect you. Others have made other choices. However, there is a point that could unite all of us, which is that we need a European energy policy, with transparency on stocks and pooling of resources on solar power, photovoltaic power, biomass power and hydraulic power. Forgive me for not having said it during my initial speech, but defining an energy policy – notwithstanding our differences on nuclear power, notwithstanding those differences – will be a priority for the French Presidency. I do not think that President Barroso will mind me saying this, as it is also his priority. This is something on which we cannot waste any time. I would also like to say to Mr Watson that I am not protectionist. I never have been and I never will be. However, the Liberals also need to think about something: we are opening up our borders and we have benefited from it. However, at the same time the others cannot ask us to do here what they do not agree to us doing there. China, India, Brazil, Mexico – the big emerging countries – cannot say, ‘Open up your borders, reduce your subsidies, but here we will do what we want.’ That is not free trade, and that is not a service to give them. Just as loving your country is not nationalism, wanting reciprocity and protection is not protectionism. It is possible to be in favour of free trade and to want to establish a balance in that free trade. Mr Watson, we will have more to discuss. Some place an emphasis on protection, others on freedom. Perhaps we can meet halfway. I would first like to thank Mr Daul, Chairman of the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats for his support and that of his group, which will be invaluable to the French Presidency. I agree with your analyses and am sure you will understand that I will not go back over each of the points, even though your commitment regarding a defence policy is entirely necessary. Finally, allow me to congratulate you, Mr Watson. I think that in terms of songs we have the same taste. I will pass on your appreciation to the person concerned, and I am sure that she will sign her latest CD for you, Mr Watson. No hard feelings. Mr Cohn-Bendit, I have already answered many of your questions. I would like to discuss two subjects. The first one is the issue of students, which is an extremely important matter. Of course Europe needs to open up to training the elites of the whole world. I have even thought for some time that opening up to training the elites of the whole world means welcoming them into our universities and, at the same time, giving them the opportunity of initial professional experience. I am particularly thinking about doctors. However, Mr Cohn-Bendit, we need to be careful not to plunder the elites of the developing world. In France there are, and you should think about this, more Beninese doctors practising than there are in Benin itself. I think that Benin needs its elites. It is not refusing immigration to refuse to plunder the elites of the developing world. We will not exhaust this debate in a few minutes. I am grateful to you for the way in which you mentioned it, but you must understand that it deserves an in-depth debate and not caricatures. It is not a case of generous people on the one hand and heartless people on the other. There are statesmen and women who are going to try to find the best solution. If you will permit me, I would like to say one thing about the issue of China, which is an extremely serious and extremely difficult issue. I would like to say, Mr Cohn-Bendit, that like everyone here, I heard the emotion in your voice, which is a credit to you, and I would like to say that I share your feelings. I would also like to say to Mr Watson, who asked me to be a team player, that this is exactly what I have done, because as President-in-Office of the Council, I spoke to all the Member States to find out what they thought and whether any of them were opposed to my taking part – I will speak in a moment about the substance; I am speaking first about the form. I would like to say that I received agreement from all the Member States to attend the Olympic opening ceremony. As you know it is a difficult subject, which I think we need to tackle very carefully, as we cannot afford to get it wrong. However, Mr Watson told me to be ‘a team player’. I want you to know that I discussed this with all the Member States. None of them were opposed to my taking part, and currently thirteen of them will be represented at the opening ceremony. This is not a reason, Mr Watson, it is simply a response to the issue of being a team player. Now, if you will, let us get to the heart of the matter. I understand those who say that Europeans should not attend the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing. Everyone has the right to have a view on the best way of defending human rights, and I have to respect those who say that we should boycott the ceremony. However, my personal opinion is – and I think that this opinion should be respected, because it is respectable – that it is not by humiliating China that we will make progress on the issue of human rights, but through a frank and direct dialogue. I would even like to say this: I do not think that we can boycott a quarter of humanity. I do not think this is an intelligent or responsible choice for someone who has the responsibility of being the President-in-Office of the Council to say to a quarter of humanity, ‘We will not come; we are humiliating you in the eyes of the whole world.’ I want to go there and I want to talk. Regarding the core issue of defending human rights, we are in agreement. Regarding the way in which to defend those human rights, acknowledge that there can be a debate and that the debate will not end with the issue of the Olympic Games. I therefore want to go there, talk about human rights and defend them. I am even going to go further than that, Mr Cohn-Bendit. There are things that I will not say to China, because China should be respected; but there are things that China should not say to the European countries, particularly not to France, because France and the European countries should be respected just as China should be. It is not up to China to fix my schedule and appointments. In the same way, it is not up to me to fix the schedule and meetings of the Chinese President. I will therefore defend the issue of human rights, and, at the same time, as a head of state, I have to consider something. We always talk about agreements. I would like to challenge this, as for a democratically elected head of state it is not illegitimate to defend the economic interests and jobs of his fellow citizens. I want to talk about something else. China is a permanent member of the Security Council. We need China in order to put an end to the scandal in Darfur, because China is influential in Sudan. We need China in order to isolate Iran, so that neither Iran nor anyone that dares to say that they are going to wipe Israel off the map has access to a nuclear bomb. How can we say to China, ‘Help us to establish peace in the world, to ensure stability in the world’, and at the same time boycott the country at a time when it is hosting a fundamental event for 1.3 billion inhabitants? That would not be reasonable, it would not be responsible and it would not be worthy of a self-respecting statesman. Mr Schulz, allow me to say that I appreciated the sense of responsibility in your speech. As with Mr Daul, we met and had discussions, and there are no secrets. Democracy should not be a shadow theatre. It should enable us to compare our ideas and try to reach a compromise. You can be sure that, as in the case of Mr Daul, the French Presidency appreciates the support of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament and your support on matters of consensus. Moreover, I do not see why I would say that this support is of less use to me because it comes from the Chairman of the Socialist Group, or why you would seek out conflicts with the Presidency under the pretext that I am not of the same political persuasion as you. Having expressed my respect for the opinions and feelings of Mr Cohn-Bendit, and of everyone in this House who thinks the same way, I would finally like to add this: respect those who, like us, think as I do. Before going, I questioned Mr Watson and Mr Schulz, the Chairman of the Socialist Group, and I think that I can say on his behalf that he is entirely in agreement with the need not to boycott China. He is a socialist, I am not. I questioned Mr Daul, who is entirely in agreement with this. I would like to say one last thing. Look at what China did in terms of being pragmatic regarding the issue of Hong Kong. Remember, ladies and gentlemen, that it was a very difficult matter. Fifteen years ago, there were demonstrations in Hong Kong. China was able to be pragmatic in resolving the issue of Hong Kong. Look at Macao. China has been able, through dialogue, to resolve the issue of Macao. I am even going to go further. Look at the issue of Taiwan today, where the progress made by President Hu Jintao on Taiwan is remarkable. Five years ago, everyone thought it inevitable that there would be a confrontation between Taiwan and China, which is not the case. Will we move China forward through frank, courageous, direct dialogue, or through humiliation? I have chosen dialogue, frankness and courage. Mr President, just one minute, out of courtesy to Mr Wurtz. First of all, I would like to say to him that he can be reassured that I am not insulting the unions, but I thank him for pointing out that France can be changed, as is currently happening, without paralysing it. It is an insult to the unions to think that their only use is to paralyse. The unions have a role of social democracy, just as political leaders do. No more and no less. However, what I meant to say is that no one has the right to take users hostage. I am sure that a man as courteous as you, Mr Wurtz, who has never blocked anything, can understand what I am saying. For the rest, Mr Wurtz, we do not agree, but that does not prevent me from greatly appreciating the way in which you express your disagreement. Mr de Villiers, I would like to say that I understand your discourse even more given that you indisputably represent a significant political tendency in our country, but also in Europe. I will even say better than this, Mr de Villiers. Personally I do not take your discourse as a discourse against Europe but as a call to build Europe in a different way. Mr de Villiers, I do not want to pit the ‘yes’ camp against the ‘no’ camp. I simply want to try to integrate everyone into a different Europe, based around democracy, peace and growth. I noted your reservations, I am aware of them and I will try to respond to them, not with words but with facts. As for you, Mr Le Pen, as I was listening to you I was saying to myself that for years France had the great misfortune of having the most powerful extreme right wing in Europe. Listening to you, Mr Le Pen, I am very glad that this has come to an end. Allow me to say that regarding the energy and climate package, I am perfectly aware, and I also say this to Mr Daul, that it is Parliament that will have the last word; but better than that, it is not just a question of having the last word. It is the mobilisation of Parliament that will put pressure on the Member States that do not have the same ambitions as Parliament, the Commission and the Presidency. I would not say, Mr Schulz, that you will have the last word. I am saying that your commitment is absolutely critical. I would also like to say to Mr Cohn-Bendit that it is not about getting down on bended knee in front of anyone, especially not the car industry, be it French, Italian or German. Why just target the German industry? In this case, the President-in-Office of the Council has to take into account the legitimate interests of each of the Member States. What we have to do is resist the industrial lobby while allowing it to have fair conditions, and clearly explaining that the fact that we are defending the energy and climate package does not mean that we are naive. In other words, Mr Cohn-Bendit, as we want to achieve planetary balance, I would not like us to be accused of promoting relocations. It is not about respecting the environment and accepting relocations; it is about respecting the environment and rejecting relocations. Any other way of thinking is suicidal. If you ask the Member States to choose between the environment and growth, you will place us all at an impasse. Sustainable development and respect for the environment are factors in economic growth. This is why, Mr Cohn-Bendit, you will not resent my preferring Mr Schulz’s or Mr Daul’s analysis to yours, just this once. Now, Mr Schulz, let us come to what you identified as a point of disagreement. Allow me to say that I do not think so. I would also like to say to you that Europe is not responsible for the fact that our German friends have not managed to reach an agreement on a minimum wage, but rather it is the German political debate that has caused you to reject a minimum wage. Do not saddle Europe with the responsibility for a social failing that is down to national political debate! In this case, as President-in-Office of the Council, it is not for me to pass judgment. I would quite simply say, ‘Do not ask us, Mr Schulz, to resolve problems that you Germans have not been able to resolve between you.’ I would like to add that in France, in terms of social matters, we attach a great deal of importance to the minimum wage. What would social harmonisation mean? You Germans have rejected a minimum wage. We French want to keep our minimum wage. Social harmonisation would therefore mean that we would have to reject our minimum wage because the Germans do not have one. I reject this social regression, including in the name of my European ideal. Thank you, Mr Schulz, for allowing me to clarify my social commitments. I would like to add, however, Mr Schulz, that you are entirely right about raising the moral standards of financial capitalism, the rules that apply to credit rating agencies and the entirely reprehensible conduct of some of our financial establishments, and I would like to say something else: in all of our countries there have been directors of large banks who liked to lecture politicians about the rigour with which affairs of state should be conducted."@en1
"(Off-microphone intervention from Mr Cohn-Bendit)"1
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