Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-07-10-Speech-4-195"

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"− Mr President, I would first like to say that I think it is natural, when one has the honour of being the President-in-Office of the Council, to be before Parliament for as many hours as Parliament wishes, not only on the first day of the Presidency, but rather I will say to you, President of the European Parliament, as well as to each of the group chairmen and to the Conference of Presidents, if you want me to come at particular times during the Presidency, I am at Parliament’s disposal. You have to play the game of the European institutions. The European Parliament is at the heart of parliamentary democracy. It is not a question of availability; it is a question of priority. The Presidency needs the European Parliament and is therefore at its disposal. If the speakers will excuse me, I would like to say a few words to each of them. First of all I would like to say to Mr Bushill-Matthews that I am among those who think that Europe needs the United Kingdom. I have never been one of those Europeans or French people who thought that we should be wary of our British friends. The United Kingdom can bring much more than it believes it can to Europe. The United Kingdom is the gateway to the Anglo-Saxon world, it represents the leading world language and it is economically dynamic, as has been shown in recent years. I would like to say to our British Conservative friends, ‘believe that Europe needs you, that you have a place there, and that if the British have one foot in and one foot out, Europe will be weakened’. The United Kingdom is a great nation. It has nothing to fear from Europe, and Europe has a great deal to expect from the United Kingdom. To Mr Poignant, who saw deep inside me and therefore understood that I loved politics and that Parliament was a little like my garden, I would like to say that yes, Parliament is the place for democracy, and I do not respect or understand those political leaders who would not be happy to express and defend their ideas in the cradle of parliamentary democracy. I hope that in your remark there was an element of regret, rather than an excessive view of the harmonisation of the employment market. The same also applies to Mr Désir; I am entirely with you, I am against complete harmonisation because the people would reject it. However, having minimum rules in the context of an employment market, in the context of a single economic market, is perfectly natural. Let us all be aware of the difficulties. Take Austria, for example, which is led by a socialist Prime Minister and Government; they will tell you that the retirement age is 65, and that the contribution period is 45 years. You are aware of how many difficulties I encountered in bringing the contribution period to 40 years, and I did not immediately gain the support of the French Socialist Party. So explain to me how it is, when I encountered so many difficulties in securing a 40-year contribution period in France, I only need to be President of Europe for six months to preferably achieve between the 45 years of contributions in Austria and the 40 years in France. How can that be done? It is a long way from the dream to the reality, but this is perhaps the difference between the French Socialist Party and the European Socialist Party. At times I even feel closer to the European Socialist Party than to the French Socialist Party; I confess my fault and of course apologise for it."@en1
"(Off-microphone intervention from Mr Schulz)"1

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