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". Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, rarely has the European Parliament prepared for a European Council meeting during a worse crisis. I believe that we should be under no illusions. This European Council meeting will be a historic one, because it will decide on the future of this Union. All of these things have been explained. They are on the table. Either we will manage to knit Europe together in unity and not play one nation off against the others, or play the feelings of one off against the feelings of the others, or the European integration project is in real danger. However, if the European Union fails as a transnational project for securing peace and prosperity and breaks apart, then it will be more than just a political union that breaks apart. Then the demons of the 20th century that plunged this continent into misery will quickly reappear. The defence of Europe is more than one European summit, it is the defence of a great idea. I read an interesting line in a German newspaper this week. The markets – writes the German newspaper – distrust the European Union because they no longer trust it to find solutions to the problems. The people of Europe, the citizens, distrust the European Union because they no longer trust the governments to find solutions to their problems. We are in a severe crisis. We are in a crisis of confidence in the European project. We all have the crisis that we deserve. Our problems have been known for a long time. The question is whether we intend to address them in a bold or a despondent way, and whether we have courage to do so or whether cowardice will bring us to our knees. I will say one thing, which is perhaps one of the most unpopular messages that could be given in Europe right now. I will say it nevertheless, because I am firmly convinced that it is right. We do not need less Europe, we need more of it! We need more courage to overcome the crisis using European resources. Why do we need more Europe? This Council meeting is mainly about two things. Firstly, the Heads of State or Government must regain their governance, because it is not the Heads of State or Government alone that decide. In this world in which we live there are 43 companies with a balance sheet totalling more than the national budget of a medium-sized EU Member State like Poland. That means that there are 43 heads of companies that are at least as powerful as the Polish Prime Minister. These people also decide on the fate of the people of this continent. Has the fact actually ever been discussed – and this is another issue – that always right on time just prior to an Ecofin meeting, just before a European Council, one, two or three credit rating agencies assess whatever is on the table as a solution to the problems as being inappropriate? Who in actual fact are the people who are wielding the real power over economic development in Europe? Who is behind them? Who is actually paying the credit rating agencies for their ratings? They are clearly not working simply for a reward in heaven. Of course, they receive money for their proposals from stakeholders. The Heads of State or Government must have the courage to regain the sovereignty of their national, democratic power to act. The only way that they can do this is by uniting. They will not be able to do this if they split into their constituent parts. The EU currently has 7.8% of the world’s population in its 27 Member States. Population statistics tell us that in 2050 only 4% of the world’s population will live here. The remaining 96% of the world’s population will not only take their bearings from Europe. The emerging powers and the emerging economies of this world are not waiting for Europe to split into its constituent parts, from large parts like Germany down to very small parts like Malta, in the belief that each individual part will be able to survive on its own – the renationalisation rhetoric that many politicians are giving their people. We will only survive in intercontinental competition – environmental, economic, financial and monetary – if we unite. If we have the shared will to make the strongest economy in the world – because that is what Europe is if it holds together – into a success by standing together in solidarity. Solidarity means sharing. Strong shoulders more so than weak shoulders. For us, incidentally, that does not mean a financial tax; it means a financial transaction tax. If I go to the supermarket and buy a carton of milk, I pay value added tax. If I sell a financial product, I pay no tax. That is not right. Therefore we need this financial transaction tax."@en1

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