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 Testo integrale 
Thursday, 31 January 2019 - Brussels Revised edition

Debate with the Prime Minister of Finland, Mr Juha Sipilä, on the Future of Europe (debate)

  Jeppe Kofod, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, I would like to say to the Prime Minister that his country, Finland, is among the world leaders in many areas from clean energy and gender equality to social progress. I think Transparency International only this week named Finland as the third least corrupt country in the world and let us not forget last year’s World Happiness Report, according to which Finns are now the happiest people in the world. Coming from Denmark I am a little bit disappointed that you took over our place at that point. Congratulations on this impressive record. Finland clearly demonstrates that small countries can be on top of the world, not only in geographical terms.

But, Prime Minister, in your speech today, besides better implementation, I missed this ambition to be a champion and driver for positive social change in Europe. Where is your ambition to make Europe the world leader in a transformation to a sustainable development model in a just way where all people are included? Where is your ambition to make the lives of Europeans better? What you presented to us today sounded a little bit more like yesterday’s neoliberal slogans that led to the deep economic and social crisis in Europe.

Prime Minister, we Socialists and Democrats have an ambitious vision for Europe. We live in times when our Earth and our sources of life are under attack from climate change and pollution. You rightly mentioned that. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil our crops are grown in are the future of our children and it is our duty to protect them. But our citizens and our workers are also tired of being the only ones paying for the transformation to a more sustainable way of production. They are outraged to see multinationals polluting our planet and reaping huge benefit, but not paying their fair taxes.

This must change, Prime Minister. We need to change the Stability and Growth Pact to become a true sustainability pact for Europe. Therefore we have drawn up a plan to shift towards more sustainable ways of working, producing, living which go hand in hand with social progress for the people – a just transition – with the United Nations Development Goals as our signpost. Today I call on Finland to join us in this very important battle. We Europeans need to shape globalisation our way, not fall victim to destructive forces. We must be rule—makers, not rule—takers, because we live in times with growing inequality caused by the greediness of some elites and uncontrolled globalisation. The only way to address this is by finally fixing taxation and ensuring good salaries and working conditions for all, based on the Social Pillar. I didn’t hear you mention the Social Pillar some of us fought so hard to adopt in the European Union.

Prime Minister, fair taxation is the foundation for European welfare states like the Nordic ones, which we come from, and citizens’ trust in democratic government. But are you willing to join us in this battle for fair taxation? Professor Richard Murphy showed in a study last week that the tax gap in Europe is EUR 825 billion, a gigantic amount of money.

Our group has been in the forefront in the fight against money laundering and tax crimes. We call for a minimum corporate effective tax in Europe to stop the race to the bottom on corporate taxation. We call for stricter criteria and a for true tax haven list, which also calls out tax havens right here in the European Union.

What do the people not understand is that while we as citizens have to pay high taxes, internet giants like Google and Facebook pay less than 1% in tax on what they earn in Europe? That is not fair. We need to protect our welfare states. We need to fight, not only for free, but also for fair, competition and for fairness for European citizens who today pay the price of multinationals’ tax dodging and we can achieve that. If we achieved that, Prime Minister, your recent project in Finland, – as I understand, the privatisation of hospitals and health care – could not just had been avoided, but public health care could have been strengthened in Finland, for example.

So the status quo is not an option. It’s time for radical change to shape Europe for all people and leave nobody behind. Prime Minister, we see forces that are tearing our societies apart, but we need this radical change to social democracy and to more sustainable equality. We are campaigning for that as social democrats in Europe and we hope that liberals and other progressives will also join this fight.


Ultimo aggiornamento: 4 aprile 2019Avviso legale