Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2012-05-09-Speech-3-026-000"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, today we are celebrating Europe. This celebration on 9 May is particularly significant at a delicate time for European integration in economic terms, but also in political terms. We often forget the progress our countries have made since signing Robert Schuman’s declaration, yet never in our history have we known such an area of peace and prosperity in spite of the current crisis. We Europeans have paid a high price to understand that there is no difference between our neighbours and ourselves. We know at last the value of tolerance, of dialogue, of solidarity, which take precedence over individualism. You know that Robert Schuman’s declaration brought us a project for peace, which has been a success. Let us say it too. However, I should like to finish with these words: solidarity, responsibility, enthusiasm, conviction and let us have a project for the future, for growth and for employment. Ladies and gentlemen, the rise of extremism and the lure of populism require our attention. Left-wing populism has no more place in Europe than right-wing populism. I urge all the mainstream political parties to remember that they have nothing to gain and everything to lose if extremism becomes commonplace. Intellectual shortcuts and easy solutions are mere demagogy. They simply entertain the false hopes of our citizens, which quickly come to nothing. How, then, in this context, can we reduce Europe’s democratic deficit? As I said, Europe is experiencing a difficult period and the decisions that will be made over the coming months will determine the stability of our economies and the social cohesion of our countries. The debt crisis and the recent attacks on the markets against our currency have at least had the merit of making us aware of the deterioration of public finances that has been going on in several European countries for decades. We have shown, in Parliament, with the ‘six-pack’, with the fiscal treaty, and soon with the ‘two-pack’ as well, that Europe has demonstrated the courage to take itself to task and reverse this trend. However, our efforts have only just begun and we must under no circumstances relax them. I must say, what worries me most is this current political debate between growth and cleaning up national finances. Indeed, behind the caricatures, it is not that there are those in Europe who are in favour of good management and those who are in favour of growth, simply because they are two sides of the same coin, as I have often said here in this Chamber. The reality is that we cannot separate deficit reduction and growth, and you have said so yourself. There will be no sustainable growth unless we reduce our debts and this reduction will come about all the more quickly with strong growth. The reality is that growth-stimulating measures cannot be synonymous with additional spending. We no longer have the resources. The reality is that, as long as the most spendthrift countries refuse to lead debt-reduction policies, the countries that are themselves making an effort towards sound management will no longer be able to show solidarity. Ladies and gentlemen, confidence is what will come from investment and growth. I am not talking about artificial growth. There is only one way to achieve this: enhancing the competitiveness of our economies in the context of globalisation. Europe has a promising future so long as we all assume our responsibilities and we implement the decisions that have already been adopted. We know very well what is needed: completing the single market, investing in research and development to continue to play the leading role among 21st century economies, and reducing administrative burdens to unlock the potential of our SMEs and our companies. It is in this way, and by cleaning up our public finances, that we will ensure growth and that we will create jobs for the future. Robert Schuman’s declaration paved a new way for Europeans. Now more than ever, we are bound together. We are united, responsible for one another, and this involves budgetary convergence, which is under way, but also fiscal and social convergence. Yet this solidarity can only work if each of us makes efforts and is ready to combine cleaning up public finances with sustainable growth."@en1

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