Chairman Speech

Preparation of the European Council of 22 and 23 June 2017

14.06.2017 - 09:15

Mr President, I want to start with a topic which is not officially on the agenda next week, but which will surely overshadow the whole debate – namely, the general election in the UK. Let me start with a frank analysis from our side: I do not think it is a good result, because we were asking London for clear orientation and stability, and what we see today is a situation of disorientation – some are calling it a chaotic situation – in London. Theresa May gambled and she lost, and the country is deeply divided. Twelve months after the Brexit result, when we look at the political landscape all over Europe, we now see clear leadership in France, Spain is stable, Italy is stable, Germany is stable, and so is Dublin. So Europe is united, but we are seeing a lot of problems on the table in London. So the main message for people in the European Union is that it is better to reform the European Union, if needed, than to destroy it or to leave it.

One inspiring element of this election is that the youth is back. They abstained in the Brexit decision, and now they have gone to vote and have taken their destiny into their own hands. That is a very promising thing, because they are in favour of partnership and in favour of Europe. A hard Brexit was what Theresa May offered, and I have to say that there is no majority for this option. In Great Britain, people are rethinking their priorities, and today they are mainly discussing jobs: that is what we should also focus on. Let us talk about jobs, let us talk about the economy, and about people’s daily lives. That is one thing.

The second thing is the official agenda: there, the most important thing is that we have had enough papers on the table and we have had enough talks on the issues. It is now time to act. That is what people all over Europe expect from our leaders. On defence, it is obvious we have the Commission’s very good papers – Jean-Claude Juncker’s papers – on the table, and we have the Bratislava decision on the table. So let us now start with cyber war, with drones, and with action in the Sahel Zone. It is now up to us simply to do it, and that is what we expect from the Council.

On migration, for the EPP Group, the precondition for all further measures was always that we need strong border controls. We have to protect our borders. When we listen to our Commission President, this is now much better organised and works much better than it has done in recent years. Now we can go a step further. I want to underline that on the question of solidarity it is not Europe, which is failing, because Brussels – I should say the Commission – is offering a clear proposal, and we in Parliament have a clear majority in favour of practising solidarity in the European Union. It is not Europe that is failing, but for the moment it is national egoism which is failing and not bringing results. That is why we should move. Let us go on and let us show leadership. With Brexit in mind, the most convincing thing that our leaders can do now is act.

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