Speaking in plenary today during the debates with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Manfred Weber, Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, highlighted the main challenges ahead in the European Union for the year 2018 and beyond.

Manfred Weber praised Bulgaria and the Republic of Ireland for their bold policies and clear European stance.

“Ireland has always had a very positive attitude towards Europe, because their politicians do not blame Europe but explain the decisions taken in Brussels and Strasbourg at home,” he told the Irish Taoiseach.

“Bulgaria's development shows that, based on European values, you can go forward, modernise the state, fight against corruption and give your country a clear European direction,” he told Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.

“One of the most important challenges ahead of us will be the debate on EU money. We should first define what Europe's priorities are and then discuss how they will be financed,” he said.

“This year we also need to solve the migration crisis,” he added.

“Bulgaria offers a good example of successful management of the Union’s external borders. We need to strengthen controls at all our external borders to fight against illegal migration more efficiently. We need more resources for Frontex and more Frontex officers,” Manfred Weber underlined.

Finally, he said, "the  countries of the Western Balkans are part of Europe and could become members of the European Union. We are in favour of this outlook if the conditions are met. The EPP wants to focus on very concrete projects, such as infrastructure, so that the people can see the benefits of being in the European family."

In the debate with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Manfred Weber also stressed the need to secure the European way of life through concrete policies and projects.

“Europe stands at a crossroads - between hate and hope," he said. "Demagogues play with people’s fears and prejudices. For their own selfish goals, they are spreading hate. We have to bring hope to people. It is either a Europe that is fair, that is united on defence, a Europe that treasures its cultural richness, or no Europe at all. Let’s get things done. It’s either an ambitious Europe or no Europe at all."

NOTE TO EDITORS

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 217 Members from 27 Member States

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