Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2010-02-09-Speech-2-092"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament has not made its decision lightly. We voted on the President of the Commission five months ago in this House and although we did not give him our support then, he received the majority vote. On the basis of this majority, which regrettably rested on people who are actually not in favour of the Treaty of Lisbon, he has presented a College to us and today we are to assess this College. It is also necessary for us to assess this College. There are two options open to us: we can go and divide this House into those on the Right and those on the Left. These two groups have conflicting ideologies and must vote accordingly. That is one option. However, this is not the way that Europe works. We do not have a majority in this Parliament. The Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) does not have a majority in this Parliament either, nor has the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. Europe is not an entity in which any political force whatsoever can alone cobble together a majority and say that Europe will now be governed in a particular way. Europe is a permanent compromise. That is what sometimes makes it so cumbersome and also so difficult to understand. However, better a permanent compromise, which leads to successes and more social justice, than an ideological battle that ultimately fizzles out without any tangible results. It is therefore very difficult for us to weigh up the benefits. Of course, we all enjoy a tussle. I, too, enjoy arguing principles with fellow Members from other groups, but Europe also needs tangible results. We therefore asked ourselves what we, as Social Democrats – as Socialists and Democrats – can call for and get accepted. We then defined criteria. One criterion was that we wanted the political force that is the second-strongest force in Europe to be represented on a higher level in this Commission. We therefore wanted the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and we succeeded in getting this post in place. I would like to say something with regard to the person holding this post. Baroness Ashton must not allow herself to be called a communist in this Parliament by a man who, in France, has been convicted of denying the Holocaust. Baroness Ashton has our full support. We asked whether we could introduce a social impact assessment into European Union legislation as a regulatory mechanism. For us, the question was whether measures – such as the Services Directive in the past – could still be set in motion at all. No, we wanted a mechanism for examining any measures that this Commission is to take in terms of their impact on the social security systems of the Member States before they are taken. This was incorporated. We wanted – and, for me, this is a quantum leap in European policy – the legislative resolutions of this Parliament to be turned into the Commission’s own legislative initiatives within a year. That is a huge step forward, because it means that the right of initiative of this Parliament, which unfortunately does not exist, will be secured by indirect means. We see this as significant progress. Ultimately, as the second-strongest force in this Parliament and also as a group without which no qualified majority would be possible in this House, we wanted to be represented in the Commission. Three of the seven vice-presidents are Social Democrats. In this respect, you have largely accommodated us. In recent weeks and months, we have voiced many concerns, including in our debate this morning. In weighing up these concerns against the progress made, we decided to offer you our support for the next five years. When I say ‘you’, I mean the College of Commissioners. You can count on our support if you take seriously what I say to you: Europe will either be a social Europe or it will fail. It is our joint responsibility to ensure that it becomes a more social Europe. The S&D Group will support this Commission."@en1

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