Europe needs courage, Europe needs optimism, Europe needs creativity! This is precisely what we heard from Jean-Claude Juncker today. Thank you and thanks to the whole European Commission for this strong start!
Trust is built on action. This is why we must talk about our achievements today. And we have achieved a lot: we concluded the Paris Agreement against climate change, we concluded CETA, we established a more effective protection of our borders, we gave targeted help to Africa, European growth is higher than the US, unemployment is declining.
People are better off today!
We deliver results! And when I say we, I mean it. We, the European Parliament. The Chamber representing the people of Europe.
And one thing is clear: it is only thanks to the power and the will of the European Parliament that a Juncker Commission exists. The first political Commission in history is the child of this House, the child of us Parliamentarians, the child of European democracy. And this is why we can be proud of what we have achieved together: the Parliament and the Commission are walking in the same direction.
And what is important now?
The EPP supports the idea of our Commission President for a deepening of the European Union. The world will not wait for us. We must go forward now. But I do not want to talk about treaties and institutions today. I want to talk for the EPP and from the perspective of the people.
Europeans are feeling the rough winds of globalisation. They are afraid of social dumping and unemployment! We must harness our social market economy to oppose these dangers. It is about fairness, steady jobs and decent wages. About the idea, that with ownership comes responsibility. And about the idea of strong trade unions that stand up against big companies. We say yes to new and fair trade agreements, but we also say yes to the protection of our key industries and of our social standards in the EU. The European way of life is a social one and the weak are at the centre of our attention.
Many people are afraid when they see the pictures of illegal migrants arriving at our external borders. They no longer believe those politicians who say that this is good for us. They are afraid for their culture and their identity. And this is why we must do everything we can to protect and control our borders. Not to build a wall around Europe - but to make sure that illegal migration and the breaches of law are stopped. The European way of life is to help those who are in need. But at the same time, it is to firmly protect our borders against illegal migrants and human traffickers. Both are necessary.
And for the identity of this continent I say very clearly: our guiding principle is our way of life, our values and our laws. For integration, we must make it clear that only those who respect our basic values can get European citizenship. All the others must leave Europe.
People are worried when they look at Turkey. People are arbitrarily arrested, the rule of law is dismantled, Turkey is moving away from Europe. People do not understand why Europe is not acting. The European Parliament has clearly demanded the formal suspension of the accession negotiations, to send a signal that it cannot continue as if nothing has happened. What further development are the Council and the European Commission waiting for? We in the European Parliament believe that a clear signal is necessary. The European way of life demands honesty in relations with our neighbours.
Many people are afraid of terrorism - Barcelona, Turku this summer. Many say that Islam is a danger. During the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris two years ago, a French policeman was executed by the terrorists - his name was Achmed Mherabed, a Muslim who gave his life defending the freedom of journalists. No, this is not a conflict between Christians and Muslims. It is a conflict between humanity and barbarism, between values and terrorism, between our European way of life and the madness of the terrorists. We must stand together, even closer. We must exchange our information between all the security authorities of Europe, now, immediately. And data protection must not be turned into some kind of protection of terrorists. The European way of life protects the freedom of religion. It does not know national egoism when fighting together against the terrible acts of the terrorists.
And many people are also afraid when they look eastwards. In the coming days, a manoeuvre of the Russian and the Byelorussian armies will soon be at the borders of our Baltic states; about 100,000 soldiers, directly at our borders. Many people are afraid. After the wars in Georgia, in Ukraine and Syria. What is Putin planning now? The European way of life is to defend ourselves. This is why the ideas of a European Defence Union are going in the right direction and we need them now! And this is also why we must stop the Nord Stream 2 – our security takes priority over making money!
We have to give proper answers to all these points that our people are making. Let’s act now. We must combine all these topics and bring them together: and that is to define and defend the European way of life in the future.
In the past, our founding fathers of the European Union achieved peace. And they were successful because they believed in themselves.
Today, we must defend Europe’s identity. Today, we must defend the European way of life in a world that is changing rapidly. And we will also be successful. Let’s start now!
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