The Prime Minister’s speech to the Plenary of the European Parliament 3 July 2012 at the end of the Danish Presidency
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President of the European Parliament
President of the European Commission
Distinguished Leaders of the Political Groups
Members of the European Parliament and the European Commission
It is a privilege and a great honor to address this Parliament again.
When I last stood here back in January, I ended my speech by saying that the economic crisis had put the European Union to the test.
We took over the Presidency at a time of unprecedented crisis in the history of the Union.
The gravity of the situation, the depth of the challenge, the severity of the predicament facing our Union could not and should not be underestimated.
I said this already at the beginning of the Presidency - not to lower the expectations for Denmark’s presidency. But rather to make clear what exactly is at stake as the EU tries to work its way out of the crisis.
During the past months, the EU has been forced to take critical decisions that will lay the foundation for the Europe of tomorrow, of next year and of decades to come.
This is no easy task in a Union as vast, diverse and complex as ours.
But leaders throughout Europe must never lose sight of the core of the problem facing the EU today: that our very economic foundation, our future prosperity, the hope and dreams and aspirations of our children, are at risk.
The storm has yet not passed and we are still facing a number of difficult and intertwined challenges. So, I am reminded by the inspirational words of the first Chancellor of West Germany Konrad Adenauer. He once said:
”The unity of Europe was the dream of a few. It became the hope of many. Today it has become a necessity for all of us”.
Those words have never been as true as they are today.
The EU is a necessity to all of us. As representatives of the European institutions, we have an obligation. An obligation to find the solutions that will bring our Union forward. We owe that to our citizens.
When I stood here in January, I proudly stated that ‘I am a European at heart’.
The past six months have only reassured me in my belief in the European project. I believe in our institutions, our cooperation and our common responsibility.
If we seek to ensure solidarity, growth and prosperity – we must seek it together. Through common solutions to common problems.
And that is what our Presidency has been all about - ensuring solidarity, growth and prosperity - together. We took upon ourselves a task of proving that the EU still works and still is capable of delivering necessary results for the citizens of Europe.
We did that inspired by someone all of you know.
In 1950, he said:
“Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.”
Of course it was Robert Schuman, who said this, and the subsequent history of European integration proved him right.
I think there is an unequivocal truth in Schuman’s words.
Our Union is built – from its very foundation – with bricks made of solidarity.
Some stones have been small – some have been enormous.
But brick by brick we have strengthened our cooperation with one another.
And this is, to me, the very essence of our Union. And this is what we have tried to do. To work inch by inch creating results.
Jobs and growth. Financial responsibility. A greener economy. And a safe Europe. That has been the priorities of the Danish Presidency. But priorities without tangible results are just empty words. And I believe that Europe has in fact delivered over the past months.
The Compact for Growth and Jobs adopted last week in the European Council is the perfect completion of our Presidency. The Compact does not solve all Europe’s problems. But it is, however, a light in the dark for the many European citizens feeling the harsh effects of the economic crisis.
For those outside the labour market, for those without opportunities, for those facing poor prospects – including not least our young generations – we are presenting a way forward.
It is a result of our persistent effort to promote growth and new jobs in Europe.
But of course our work doesn’t end here. We must be vigilant in transforming this Compact from a piece of paper into practical reality.
We must find a way to ensure Member States, the Commission and the European Parliament that we, together, roll out the measures contained in the Compact.
We have a situation, for the first time in the history of the European Union, where we cannot assume that the coming generations will enjoy more prosperity and better opportunities than we have enjoyed.
That leaves us with a huge responsibility to improve the conditions for our citizens and businesses. And that has been a top priority for our Presidency.
Let me highlight a few of the main results reached during our Presidency.
Under the headline of a more dynamic Europe, the Danish Presidency has pushed for robust EU measures in areas such as research and education, infrastructure and the Single Market. We have done this to boost growth and kick-start a job-rich recovery.
I am particularly pleased that we succeeded in achieving a historic compromise in the European Council on the patent reform after more than thirty years of negotiations. This could mean drastic cost savings for businesses across Europe – savings that can instead be used to promote new jobs.
We might not see eye-to-eye on all elements of the compromise. But I truly hope we can work together as co-legislators to see the patent reform become a reality to the benefit of our companies.
I am also very pleased that we have adopted the roaming regulation.
This regulation will lower prices significantly on cell phone usage in Member States and reduce burdens on our companies. In short, it can contribute to growth.
Another important result is the regulation on a European system of standardisation. This agreement will modernise the Single Market.
Furthermore, we have reached agreement on the proposals on venture capital and social entrepreneurship funds.
This will help access to funding for European businesses and social entrepreneurs. And this, of course, is another important measure that will help boost growth in the EU.
We know the Single Market is one of the EU’s greatest achievements. In order to realize its full potential, we must continue to reform and modernise it.
The second main objective of our Presidency was to ensure a more responsible Europe. The need for fiscal consolidation and greater budget discipline is crucial to safeguard against the financial crises of tomorrow.
We have also taken important steps in this field during the Danish Presidency.
The Council agreement on the Two-Pack will enable stronger European monitoring of budgetary plans which is being drafted by members of the Eurozone. Stronger common rules will reinforce the vigilance of Member States in avoiding large imbalances and unsustainable debt levels.
We have come far, and I urge for a rapid agreement between the Council and the European Parliament during the Cyprus Presidency.
Similarly important is the directive on capital requirements for European banks where the Council agreed its position last month. This directive will help minimize the risk of a financial crisis hitting us again as forcefully as it did in 2008.
Furthermore, we have also worked for a stronger commitment among Member States to implement structural reforms. The completion of the first full round of the European Semester is a decisive step. A step towards a more responsible Europe.
All these results will help increase confidence in Europe’s financial system. I am in no doubt that these surveillance measures will lead to more political accountability and stronger budget discipline.
Finally, we have been working hard to streamline the next EU budget so it helps promote growth. We took an important step at The European Council last week. I would like to thank the European Parliament for their constructive cooperation.
It is our firm conviction that we need to direct more funds toward growth-enhancing areas such as research, education, energy efficiency and green technologies. That has to be the way forward for the EU.
Measures that will inspire growth and stronger job creation have been the mantra of the Danish Presidency through the past six months. I am pleased to note that the European Council placed a strong emphasis on this last week.
As you all know, the transition to a green economy has been among the most important political priorities of the Danish Presidency.
I warmly welcome our common agreement reached on the energy efficiency directive.
This was a landmark result, which required a good deal of flexibility, patience and hard work on all sides.
I would like to thank everyone here who was involved in reaching this significant milestone. Without you, we could not have done it.
The directive is of key importance in our efforts to achieve our two inter-related goals of transforming Europe into a competitive, low-carbon economy and increasing our energy security.
In addition, the directive will create up to hundreds of thousands of jobs in Europe. And it will ensure that the EU gets much closer to our target of 20 percent energy savings by 2020. I consider this is an excellent result.
I would like to underline my appreciation for the dedication, high level of ambition and willingness to compromise demonstrated by the European Parliament on this road to the green transition. Your continued engagement in making our economies greener will be ever more needed in the years to come.
Underpinning our aspirations for a dynamic, responsible and greener Europe is the need to ensure a safe Europe. Denmark’s Presidency has reached a wide range of tangible results in this field.
Granting candidate status to Serbia and opening accession negotiations with Montenegro will influence the regional dynamics and contribute to stabilizing the Western Balkans.
We have also reached agreements on essential elements of the Asylum Package, which will help ensure efficiency, legal rights and a more uniform asylum procedures in the Member States.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
Together with the European Parliament and the Commission, we have managed to conclude a lot of important business.
And today, I am pleased to say that we were able to reach important results only thanks to the constructive co-operation with you – the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Member States in the Council.
As I see it, the achievements of the Danish EU Presidency are also the achievements of the European Parliament.
We all play our part in realizing the huge potential of the Community Method.
Having different responsibilities, playing different roles, and, on some occasions, defending diverging interests, the Council and the European Parliament will not always share the same view.
The heated debate on the legal basis for the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism was a case in point.
I draw great encouragement from the fact that our negotiations over the last six months have been characterized by flexibility, a willingness to find common ground and – most importantly – a strong commitment to deliver on the needs and demands of the citizens.
The relentless focus on results – stone by stone, brick by brick – represents the spirit of our cooperation in the EU.
At the end of the day, as we strive to put Europe on a path for future growth and prosperity, we have to be guided by our vision for the society that we want to create. For me, what sets the Union apart is our unique social model.
That is what I believe in. That is what has made our economies so successful over the years. That is what we must fight to sustain and develop in the future.
Moving Europe beyond the crisis is not about abandoning our social model. It is in fact the opposite. It is about bringing our countries through the crisis with our fundamental values intact. Values such as solidarity, safety nets and equal opportunity for all.
The difficult decisions that we are taking today and tomorrow are not a departure from solidarity. On the contrary. We are doing it to protect our way of life, our European social model, our values.
We will continue to do so. The only way forward is through stronger cooperation between all of us.
The answer to the current challenges facing our Union is more Europe, not less.
That has been the guiding principle for the Danish Presidency.