It's now or never. The formula seems worn out it has been heard so much, but it is nevertheless my deep conviction: the future of the European Union will be played out this year.
In March 2018, the electoral sequence which started in May 2017 with the elections in France, was followed by Germany, but also the Czech Republic and Austria, will end with the Italian elections.
Germany will, at last, have a government.
We will have barely twelve months ahead of us before the start of the European elections campaign to complete major projects. In a word, to convince European citizens to continue to support an ambitious European political project.
Solving the migration crisis
It is our duty to solve the migration crisis. If Member State governments insist on rejecting their own responsibilities, if we don't reach a balanced solution for the distribution of refugees, then it would be an immense admission of failure.
It requires creativity, including in defining how solidarity can be expressed. But the Southern European countries cannot be the only ones in the front row.
We must also find a balance between welcoming refugees fleeing conflict zones and strengthening the fight against illegal immigration.
Making our Economy and Currency crisis-proof
On the economic front, the indicators are formal: 2018 should be a good year for the European economy. In both the euro area and the European Union as a whole, growth is picking up again, investments are also rising and jobs are growing. Winter is still here, but spring is coming.
These good results should not allow us to forget the need to make our currency and our economic and monetary union permanently crisis-proof. We need to set up a European Monetary Fund and strengthen the banking union.
Strengthening social Europe
2018 will also be an opportunity to strengthen social Europe - I hope that a balanced agreement can be found quickly between governments and European parliamentarians on the reform of the Posting of Workers Directive so that the harmful divisions which appeared between Western and Eastern Europe can be finally healed.
Closing Brexit negotiations
Michel Barnier has repeatedly reminded our British neighbours that "the clock is ticking": despite all the time lost, it is also this year that the negotiations on Brexit and on the terms of divorce and outlines of our future relationship must be closed. The European Parliament, which will have to validate the final agreement, will be particularly keen to defend the interests of European citizens residing in the United Kingdom.
New own resources
As a direct consequence of Brexit, the negotiations on the next long-term budget of the European Union for after 2020 will be even tougher than usual, since it will be necessary to fill the gap of 12 to 13 billion a year left by the departure of the United Kingdom.
I hope that this first budget negotiation between 27 will be the occasion for general reflection on the objectives of the European Union budget and potentially a paradigm shift: common European projects and policies should no longer be systematically dependent on the fluctuating goodwill of governments as elections go by. We must absolutely think about new own resources.
The year promises to be busy.
I call on the governments of all Member States to take up their responsibilities.
In the European Parliament, the EPP Group is fully aware of what is at stake and intends to play its part in the crucial upcoming elections.