Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-07-10-Speech-4-200"
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"− Mr President, you will notice that I already have a socialist on my right, but there is a space for a socialist on my left. This is completely respectful of the Polish: Mr Farage, I think that I defended Poland. President Barroso will be able to say this better than anyone. We need Poland, but we also need to have respect for a man’s word when it is given. Mrs Sudre, thank you for your support. I entirely agree with your analysis and sincerely thank you for it. Mr Rasmussen, who I understood was Rasmussen I, and I am just about clear who Rasmussen II is, I would like to say that Denmark is a good example of a country that has been able to move forward, and that enables me to respond to all the speakers on the Irish issue. Of course we should not force the hands of the Irish and we need to respect them, but we need to have the courage to say to our Irish friends: ‘You also need to respect the other countries that have ratified the Treaty. We are not lecturing you, but consider that others also have an opinion to offer and that at some point we will have to find a common path. Europe does not want to continue without you, but Europe cannot come to a halt just because of you.’ I say this with all the respect I have for a country that has voted ‘no’. We, the French, have caused you considerable problems and difficulties, but at some point we need to get out of this situation in which everyone is watching each other and waiting for someone else to take the initiative. The French Presidency, along with the Presidency of the Commission and the Presidency of the European Parliament need to take the initiative. After that, some will say yes and some will say no. Personally, I think that there is a solution, but it is certainly not in maintaining the status quo or in saying ‘we will wait and let time do the work’. Personally I think that time works against us, that Europe has been waiting for years and that there is no point in it waiting any longer. We will find a solution; I am convinced, just as the Danish found one. Mrs Mehrin, I was very touched by your assessment of me as a ‘ladies' man’. I will leave the content with you; I honestly do not know exactly what it means and I will be careful not to go down that road as I would not like you to misunderstand me. I know that the multi-speed Europe does exist. We are not all in the euro, and we are not all in Schengen. However, ultimately, before we build a multi-speed institutional Europe, I would like us to try to do it all together. Do not criticise the Presidency for having the ambition to take everyone along because, if before we have even started, Madam, we say, ‘In any case, it does not matter, let us leave it’, then one day we are negotiating a social exception for the British, the next we are negotiating an institutional exception for the Irish, and the next we will be negotiating an exception for the Polish. At that point I fear that we will get to a situation in which all the countries will, quite rightly, ask for an exception, and where will the European Union be then? Where will the project be that the founding fathers baptised? This is what I am saying. Perhaps we will have to get to that point, but I would like us to get there after we have tried to take the whole family along together. I would also like to say to those who are concerned about Croatia that I am of course in favour of us continuing the negotiations, and I think that it would be a serious mistake to close Europe’s door to the Balkans, because the Balkans need the peace and democracy that the Union can bring them, but I will not go back to the Lisbon debate. I would like to say to Mr Bielan that I do not wish to threaten Ireland; besides, I would not be able to do so and it would not even occur to me to do so. I will go there and listen but, at the same time, everyone needs to understand that in the polls 80% of the people say that they are pro-Europe; we can nevertheless work with them without threatening them. VAT on fuel is a French proposal; I do not want to impose it on anyone. I would simply like to draw your attention to the fact that I am convinced that the price of oil is going to continue to rise. We need to have the courage to say this to our fellow citizens. There is 3% less oil production each year due to stocks being exhausted, and 2 to 3% more oil consumption, due to the growth of emerging countries. My thought is simply that VAT is a tax that is proportional to price. If tomorrow oil is 175 dollars per barrel, will we be able to continue, without saying anything, to collect 20% tax on rocketing oil prices? This is the question that I want to ask. Along with the Presidency of the Commission, we will report on this in October. I will try to push it in the direction of my convictions, and we will see what the result is. Regarding Ukraine, there will be a summit, and we will move things forward. We need to encourage Ukraine along the road to democracy and we need to bring it closer to the European Union. Ukraine is not insignificant, it has 42 million inhabitants. This is not a small decision. For now we are at the point of association, but anyone who walks through the streets of Kiev can see that it is a European capital. Mr Langen, I would like to thank you for your compliments, which really touched me. I rather liked the reference to Tony Blair. I do not know if this is the reason that you made the reference, but I think that Tony Blair is one of the statesmen who have done a great deal for Europe, and a great deal for his country, and frankly I do not know if he would mind me saying this, but in many areas I find that he has restored credit and strength to the British political debate and to the European political debate. I think that in Europe, we need leaders and that in his time Tony Blair was indisputably one of those leaders. This is going to mark me out as being more towards the left, even though I have observed that compliments are not always forthcoming for Mr Blair from that side of the political spectrum. Yes, Mr Goebbels, others do need to make an effort, and this is entirely the issue that will be raised in the negotiations on climate change, but Europe needs to set an example. I am not naïve in saying that. I think that we have more credibility when we practise what we preach. Some might say that it is better to wait. Personally I think that we need to take the risk of acting. Fundamentally, Mr Goebbels, my political philosophy is that nothing is worse than inaction. The worst risk is to take no risks. Mr Cavada, you are quite right, we need to respond to these fears. Thank you for your support. Regarding the Union for the Mediterranean, I would like to say that in my mind, following on from President Barroso, there is no criticism of the Barcelona Process. I would nevertheless like to say one thing. Barcelona was a very good idea, but there was one problem at the Barcelona Summit. As far as I remember, there was just one Arab head of state, Prime Minister Abu Mazen. How do you think we can create a Union for the Mediterranean, bringing the northern and southern shores closer together, if the southern shore does not come? At the Paris Summit, I believe, although Bernard Kouchner may correct me later, that all of the Arab heads of state will be present. This may be a minor difference, but to me it is fundamental. I would also like to say to Mr Zahradil that it is not a question of creating a crisis regarding Lisbon, but we should also not act as if nothing is happening. We should not dramatise, but at the same time it is nevertheless worrying that the last three referendums in the European Union ended in a no vote, which was certainly for other reasons, but the fact remains that at the very least it is not a particularly encouraging sign. I will not respond to Mrs Napoletano as President Barroso gave you a good answer. Mr Sánchez-Neyra, yes there does need to be a European dimension to sport and I think that it could only be beneficial if the statistics for the Olympic Games were counted nation by nation, but if there were a specific column for European medals. This would be a way of showing that we also exist in the Europe of sport. As you know, ladies and gentlemen, I do not think that we are wasting time because I think that democracy at European level can be free of the violence that it sometimes has at national level. The European level enables everyone to step back a little from the electoral routine, which is brutal, often unfair and always difficult. Finally, the fact that in a forum such as yours we can talk while smiling and respecting each other is perhaps also something that will encourage people to warm to the European ideal and make it their own. In any case I do not see this as wasted time, and I would like Mr Poignant and Mr Schulz to be certain of this. Mr Désir, I answered you regarding standards in the labour market. Regarding social policy, we have a famous debate. The 35-hour week is not enough to win the elections, or to have a genuine social policy. I would like to add that the reason why I took so much trouble in overcoming the automatic, rigid code of the 35-hour week in France was precisely in the name of European harmonisation, because no other country had followed you along that path. None. Not a single one. Including the European socialist governments. Therefore, you see, I am quite happy for us to call for social harmonisation, but I would like to say to our French socialist friends that social harmonisation involves not advocating ideas in France that no one else is advocating in Europe, because that is an exception and our country is suffering as a result. I would like to thank Mr Buzek for Poland’s European commitment. I have never ever doubted Poland’s European commitment. Poland is one of the six most populated countries in Europe, and this is precisely why I say to President Kaczynski that we need his signature, because Poland is not just any European country. It is extremely important, it is a symbol, and naturally we need to reduce the institutional crisis solely to the issue of Ireland. Mr Barón Crespo, Doha, yes I said it to President Barroso, I said it to Gordon Brown, but in short, Doha, but not at any price. I would like to defend two ideas that are close to my heart. First of all, I am told that if there is no agreement, there will be no growth. Excuse me, but there has not been an agreement for seven years, and for six years the world has undergone unprecedented growth. The WTO agreement is preferable to having no agreement, but it should not be said that without an agreement there can be no growth. For six years we have had growth. Secondly, what President Barroso, the Canadian Prime Minister and even Angela Merkel are currently saying is that it is not good enough. Brazil is not making any effort regarding lowering tariff barriers in the industry; there is no effort on services. Also, what can be said about the closure of the Chinese market? There is no French exception from this point of view. Firstly, as President-in-Office of the Council, I must loyally defend the Union’s position. However, in terms of the Union’s position, I have not heard anyone, even the British Government, saying that the agreement should be signed at the current stage of the negotiations. We are therefore unanimous in Europe, even if it is not for the same reasons, in saying that as things stand, it is not good enough; that Europe has made all the effort and it cannot continue to make efforts if the other big regions of the world are not committed to moving forward. From this point of view, I think that we are all in agreement. I would like to say to Mr Zappalà that I thank him for his support for the European immigration policy, and to Mrs Gurmai that I think that equality between men and women is very important, but I do not know whether her remark was addressed to me as well. In any case, the fact that she is Hungarian is already an undeniable asset. I would like to say to Mr Varvitsiotis that I am perfectly aware that there is a European identity crisis, and perhaps also that the European Parliament could help all the institutions with this issue. Why not imagine that there is a real debate, President Pöttering, on what European identity is? This subject of European identity is a subject for European parliamentary debate, rather than a matter for a head of state or government. Perhaps the European Parliament could even organise debates on this subject, and in that case we will come and give our opinion. Personally I think it is more the role of Parliament to define European identity rather than the role of governments, who naturally deal with daily administration in each of their countries. If there is indeed a place where European identity should be defined, I think, and I hope that President Barroso will agree, it is not in the European Council, or the Commission, but first of all in the European Parliament. I would like to respond to Mr Karas, who said that I need to demonstrate diplomacy. Yes, understood, I will try to be diplomatic. I hope that on his part he was not questioning whether my temperament would prevent me from being diplomatic. It is not simply a question of being weak yet clever, or being dynamic yet clumsy. Perhaps it is even possible to be both dynamic and skilful but, in any event, thank you for giving me the opportunity to demonstrate this. Mrs De Sarnez is quite right. We need to change our development policy, making food agriculture a priority. It is entirely essential; the African countries need to have the resources to become self-sufficient in terms of food, and undoubtedly part of the money that we have dedicated to developing large infrastructures needs to be invested in agricultural micro-projects. This is a point on which I fully share your opinion. You also called on me to defend a vision of Europe. I share this ambition. I hope that you will be generous enough to advise me on the content of that vision. You are perfectly aware that, again, between the somewhat disembodied big ideal and all of the technical issues of daily life, the problem for each of us is having to constantly decide on what to do about the big ideas that sometimes go far beyond the day-to-day difficulties experienced by our citizens, and what to do about resolving the technical issues that affect their daily lives. It is not that simple, but I will try my hand at it in any case. To answer you, Mr Crowley, yes we do need development in order to avoid illegal immigration. Moreover, everyone is aware that the best response to the immigration issue is development. There are 475 million young Africans who are under the age of 17, and there are 12 km of the Strait of Gibraltar between Europe and Africa. Africa’s disasters will be Europe’s disasters, and there are no barriers or borders that can resist that. We therefore do indeed need a development policy. Again it is very difficult to decide between multilateralism and bilateralism. This is a significant subject and I intend to devote a great deal of attention to it. Mr Irujo talked about linguistic diversity. I am entirely in agreement, including – and I understand that you do not like the expression ‘regional language’ – with regard to official languages. I am among those, you see, who think that we would be helping all the pro-autonomy or independence movements by giving them the monopoly on defending regional languages, and this would be a very serious error. I am talking about Corsica, in the French Republic, where there are people who are Corsican, who love Corsica, and who speak Corsican in their villages; but that is no threat to national unity. Therefore, linguistic diversity is, in my eyes, just as important as cultural diversity, and in any case there will be no cultural diversity if there is only one language. Mr Farage, I very much liked your speech, but I am going to say one thing to you: the British were quite happy for me to close Sangatte, because it was in fact me who closed Sangatte, and it was you who asked me to. Even if you are a British person who loves his country, you cannot resolve all its immigration problems, and I have to tell you that France does not intend to be the United Kingdom’s border guard. Allow me to say that it is all very well to say, ‘in my country I do not want identity cards and I do not want a common immigration policy’, but this does not stop you from being quite happy for foreigners whose papers are not in order to be stopped in France so that you do not have them in the United Kingdom. Just like France, the United Kingdom cannot manage alone. I would like to add, Mr Farage, that I respect the Polish, but you were not in my office negotiating the Lisbon Treaty with a number of colleagues. We were in Brussels, and who was in my office? Not Prime Minister Tusk, because the Prime Minister at that time was Mr Kaczynski’s brother. There was President Kaczynski and I will say one thing: he is a man that I trust and he is a man that I respect. However, in Europe, when you sign something, if you start by not respecting it, there is no more Europe, there is nothing at all, there are no negotiations. When one of us commits his country, in Brussels, he must make a commitment at home as well. I said that, nothing more, nothing less."@en1
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