Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-10-09-Speech-4-008"

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"Mr President, the decision my report proposes to this Chamber is, above all, political, in the strictest sense of the word. The formal decision we are about to adopt, though clearly relevant, is the very least of it. Symbols also allow us to establish what we are and who we want to be in relation to the rest of the world, which recognises us by them. Who, for instance, has not felt proud to represent the Union when wearing the election observer’s waistcoat? Furthermore, symbols help us to remember where we came from, that day when our story of unity, growth and freedom began to be written. What the President of Parliament said a few days ago in Madrid about young people and history has much to do with symbols. We must remind young people where we came from, who we are and where we are going. Symbols get this message across quickly and clearly. These symbols unite, not divide, us. This is not only a great virtue, but, more than anything, a huge advantage. Mr President, the wonderful writer Aldous Huxley said that the most important thing is not experience, but what you do with that experience. The same applies to symbols. The flag is not intended to be an icon, but to be used in our everyday lives to strengthen the unity for which we are known. Indeed, we are about to amend our Rules of Procedure to make official what is already a reality, what the different Union institutions have been doing for years. I would like to remind Members of that. We are proposing that this House should use the Union flag in all its meeting places and on the most formal occasions, for example, at constituent sittings or when receiving heads of state. We also propose that the anthem should be played on these occasions, that the motto ‘United in Diversity’ should be included in all our written documents and that Europe Day should be celebrated. Mr President, although you were in favour of the idea, we are not suggesting that the euro should be used as a symbol. However, in our opinion, the euro is a great tool, a wonderful instrument that is undoubtedly helping us to deal with the international financial crisis. Where would we be without the euro? We would be back in this torturous situation of competitive devaluation that would have brought our real economy to its knees in the face of international financial speculation. The most important aspect of my report is the political message to citizens. This message is very clear: the symbols of the Union are alive and well in the institution that represents, more directly than any other, the 500 million inhabitants of our 27 Member States. This means that the constitutional process that was launched in 2002 with the European Convention lives on in spite of frequent and sizeable obstacles and setbacks. The Convention, of which I had the honour of being a member, along with other distinguished Members here today, had no doubts about including the symbols of the EU in the Union’s primary law for the first time. It thus happily brought to an end a curious situation whereby the most important body of law did not recognise what the public had long accepted: the symbols. The decision in this respect was unanimous and no one challenged it during the ratification process; on the contrary, it was one of the provisions most welcomed by Europe’s supporters. I have to say that it came as a huge surprise, therefore, when the Intergovernmental Conference which adopted the Lisbon Treaty decided to remove all mention of European symbols from this document. The fact is that, through our decision today, we can undo this error. Of course, we are not amending primary law, but we can do our part and move a step closer to formalising Union symbols within the institutional framework. Symbols express a shared goal and shared values. In Europe’s case, it is the desire to build a Union of and for all citizens who want unity, freedom, democracy, justice, equality and solidarity, which are European values that we also consider to be universal."@en1

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