Dear President, dear Commissioner, dear colleagues! Already in the first few minutes, we can feel what is at stake today. It is about the discussion between feelings, stirring up fears, and facts. Later, we will listen to our colleague Marine Le Pen -
Everyone can give their opinion here and everyone can listen, right?
Later, when our colleague Marine Le Pen rises to speak, she will stir up fear of trade. She will say that she rejects Canada. She will say that she rejects Australia. She will say that she rejects New Zealand. She wants to induce the total foreclosure of France and she is scaring people - farmers, employees, as we have already seen. My opinion on this is that these models have already existed. In Europe, there were already countries that totally encapsulated Albania, for example, under the control of a dictator who built borders. Le Pen wants to turn France into a big Albania that isn’t directed towards the future but that wants to cut itself off.
We, the EPP Group, believe in facts and figures. And when we look at South Korea, the last agreement we concluded 5 years ago - dear colleague Le Pen and other colleagues - has increased exports by 55%, €17 billion more has been exported, it created 14,000 new jobs. Overall, 30 million jobs in Europe depend on export. These are facts. Of course, you can contrast it with emotions. We, the EPP, still believe in facts.
I thank Commissioner Malmström for her committed work. It’s a fantastic agreement that you have submitted to us today. Thanks to the civic participation, the consumer protection organisations and the trade unions, we have received and managed to refute concerns. Moreover, I must say clearly: with whom should we hold talks if we can’t even conduct negotiations and conclude them accordingly with Canada, a highly-developed, democratic, cooperative country?
Dear colleagues! Unfortunately, I must be a little bit party political in this debate, because of course, we need to know who leads this Parliament and who is leading us towards the future of this continent. And Gianni, I must unfortunately state that the social democratic group is deeply divided. The social democratic group can’t give any guidance on how Europe will go forward. One half is for CETA, the other one is against CETA. And the Greens must have asked themselves the critical question of whether they are in good company when they are campaigning against CETA simultaneously with Le Pen and the Communists. You must be allowed to ask this question. I think that the Greens and the consumer protection organisations have held many important debates, but now they should also acknowledge that we are on a good path and that the agreement is a good agreement.
Two short points at the end: one is the decision-making process. I think that we must note when we think of CETA that in the future, we need clear competences in Europe. The discussion about Wallonia - as the EPP Group, we respect every parliament in Europe, and federalism and regionalism are important to us. However, in the future, we need competences which are evident in order for people to know that in future, when Europe discusses free trade, the European Parliament must be the place where the final and sole vote on CETA takes place.
Finally: the big situation that we have is Donald Trump. And Donald Trump has withdrawn from the TPP. He wants to build walls. And as Europeans, we want to clarify today with this vote that we don’t want to build walls, but that we want to build bridges, we want partnership. And that’s why my political group will vote for CETA.
(Translation from the original German)