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Mittwoch, 17. April 2019 - Straßburg Überprüfte Ausgabe

6. Aussprache mit dem Premierminister Lettlands, Krišjānis Kariņš, über die Zukunft Europas (Aussprache)
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  President. – The next item on the agenda is the debate with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia, Krišjānis Kariņš, on the Future of Europe (2019/2673(RSP)).

Today, it is possible to start immediately. Everybody knows our friend, a former Member of this Parliament for this year, the Prime Minister of Latvia. Thank you, Mr Kariņš, for accepting our invitation for this important debate on the future of the European Union. You are at home today. You know this Parliament very well and the debate with you will be very easy. You know very well the position of the European Parliament, the importance of the European Parliament. You know the President of the European Commission and the Vice-President of the European Commission.

Thank you for coming. As you know, we want the European Parliament at the centre of the political debate on the future of the European Union. You are a Member ad honorem of this Parliament, for this, welcome and I immediately give you the floor.

 
  
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  Krišjānis Kariņš, Latvijas premjerministrs. – Augsti godātais Tajāni kungs! Priekšsēdētāj Junkera kungs! Cienījamās deputātes! Godājamie deputāti! Dāmas un kungi! Draugi!

Man ir patiesi milzīgs prieks šodien jūs uzrunāt par tik nozīmīgu tēmu — par Eiropas nākotni.

Kā jūs zināt, es gandrīz desmit gadus esmu strādājis šajā parlamentā kā parlamentārietis, un es šo to šajā laikā arī varbūt paguvu iemācīties.

Die eine Sache, die ich gelernt habe, ist, dass, wenn man hier eine Rede halten möchte, man sich mindestens in drei Sprachen ausdrücken können muss, sonst geht es nicht. Also das ist jetzt die zweite Sprache.

Le français est trop difficile pour moi, malheureusement. Je comprends la langue, mais pour un discours, c’est un petit peu trop difficile.

But I’ll continue in English. This is language four. This is a time of change: the end of the term, the coming of the elections. It really is a time for reflection. But, before we look forward, I want to go a little bit back in history to give a little bit of context.

Latvia. Europe. What binds Europeans? Really, when you think about it, it is the shared history coming from Ancient Greece and Rome, through Christianity that spread throughout Europe. As Christianity and this culture had spread throughout Europe, the last remaining outpost were the Baltics that still had not become part, shall we say, of this common shared cultural and religious heritage. It was only at the turn of the 12th and 13th century that the Pope in Rome said ‘OK’ to a crusade against the non—Christians in the Baltics.

Since that time, our country has gone through all of the cultural developments, changes and upheavals that the rest of Europe went through, whether it is the Renaissance, the Reformation or the Enlightenment. Today, our country is predominantly, at least historically, a Lutheran country with strong Catholicism in the south east. It is very clear that, through our history, we have been part of the northern European cultural area. We view ourselves as being rather pragmatic, very patient, and – we’d like to think – rational and law-abiding as well. In culture there’s a strong creativity and personal enterprise that always presses its way through.

For hundreds of years after the introduction of Christianity, our country faced various periods of political and military occupation, coming at times from Germany at times from Poland, at times from Sweden, and at times from Russia. Throughout this time, of course, we maintained our identity and our language and culture. It was not until the end of the First World War in 1918 that we finally declared our own independence. And it took two more years for the War of Independence to free the country of the remaining German and Russian armies which was still there at the time.

If you want a personal family history, my father’s father – my grandfather – entered the Tsarist Army as a soldier for the Tsar, then he became a Bolshevik soldier, fighting the Revolution against Tsar, and then, when his unit heard that our country had declared independence, he came home and became a freedom fighter for independence. A typical history at the time.

Our country developed between the wars. Then the Second World War came. It did a lot of damage throughout Europe. That’s where I come into the picture. I am the son of refugees, wartime refugees. My parents were children in 1944 – my mother was eight and my father was 14 – and fled in small boats from Latvia to Sweden. About 5 000 Latvians came to Sweden and about 200 000 fled to Germany as the advancing Soviet army was coming a second time, devastating the country. My parents grew up in Sweden, met and married, and then they emigrated further to the US, where I was born, together with my two sisters.

I first came to Latvia in 1984. At the time, I was a high school student in the last refugee school, the Latvian Refugee High School, in Münster in Germany. That’s when I first came to Latvia. It was a different world, a different country. Everything was grey, people didn’t smile on the streets, Soviet soldiers on leave, but everywhere, everything was in Russian. You could see a visible lack of investment in any kind of infrastructure, whether they were buildings or roads or bridges. You could see decay.

As Solidarity came in the late 1980s in Poland and the Berlin Wall fell at the end of 1989, change happened in our country as well. We finally regained independence in 1991. In a very short amount of time, we developed democratic institutions, we developed free enterprise, we developed a banking system, and we developed a market economy, basically from scratch. In 2004, only 13 years after regaining independence, we joined the EU and NATO. In a couple of weeks’ time, we’re going to celebrate 15 years since we joined the European Union and I can say, on behalf of my country, we have not regretted a single day since we joined the EU.

(Applause)

So what is the EU? Well, first of all – and it must be stressed – it is a union of values, freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Historically, in Europe, how were disputes settled? With soldiers, with guns, with rifles, with tanks, and with destruction. How do we do it today? Tiresome debate, discussion votes, but it is a heck of a lot better than the way it was done before.

The EU is also about economic development, and at the core of that, is the single market. By opening up our borders to one another, we have created one of the largest markets in the world: over 500 million people, in sheer economic size roughly equivalent to the United States, which is considered the world’s strongest economy.

But all is really not well in the EU. All of us know, as politicians, that there’s a lot of anti-EU sentiment going around. There are politicians who are offering very simplistic answers to very complex issues. Generally, they are referred to as populists. My simple message is: don’t fight the populists – it is a worthless endeavour – but try to understand why people are listening to the populists, and why people are unhappy.

So why are people unhappy? What happened? Go back 10 years to 2008—2009. A bank collapsed in the US. Ok, they collapse every once in a while. That led into a chain reaction of a banking crisis around the world, especially in Europe. That led to an economic crisis, the biggest we had had since the Great Depression. My own country’s GDP fell by almost one quarter, one of the steepest drops in about a year and a half. Other countries fell as well, maybe not so badly. As we were coming out of the economic crisis, what happened a few years ago? The migration crisis. The unrest in the Middle East. It started as peaceful revolutions that turned into bloody revolutions and then refugees, migrants.

The result of all of that is what I would call a political crisis, people losing faith in the system. It’s understandable that they have lost faith. We have to help them regain it. If you look at voters, what are their main concerns? I say there are four: jobs, the way of life – translated into immigration – the environment; and safety and security. To talk about the future of Europe, you need to address all these four issues.

So what about jobs? The EU has a mechanism to foster job growth and it is that which is simply referred to as the single market. I think of a story I remember as a child – it may have been one of Aesop’s Fables – where a father has three sons. He gives a stick to one of his sons and says, ‘break this stick’ and the son breaks the stick. Then he gives another stick to the son. The son breaks the stick and he says, ‘well, what’s the difficulty?’ Then he gives the son a whole bundle of sticks together. He says, ‘now break the stick’. He tries and tries again, gives it to a brother, can’t. The third brother – can’t. The simple moral of the story is, when you’re alone, you can be broken easily, like a stick, like a twig. When you’re united, you’re powerful, and that is the beauty of the single market.

We have challenges to the single market coming from the outside. There is a rising China and there’s a US whose administration seems to be faltering a little bit in its belief that it has a leading role to play in organising world affairs and world trade.

Now, what about China? A country that openly subsidises its huge industries. These industries are coming into Europe and competing with an unfair advantage. At the same time, European companies don’t have equal access to Chinese markets. What’s the answer? I say the answer to unfair competition is not protectionism.

We cannot go the way of the Chinese. We should not become more like the Chinese, but demand that the Chinese become more like us in terms of opening up their market. We have a lot of clout as a union and as a single market. This is what we need to use, not as individual sticks, but as that bundle that cannot be broken and can change things in the world.

Inside the EU we still have hurdles to overcome and this has to do with the internal barriers still to the single market, especially in the digital sphere, as well as is in the services sphere. Ask yourselves: why are the largest internet companies coming from the US? Why aren’t they European? I think the answer is pretty obvious. The US has a dollar zone, it has a federal government and a federal budget, and it has zero barriers between the states in terms of trade. They have a truly united single market, smaller than ours – 330 million. We have a larger one, but we have too many hurdles.

So, if we talk of wanting to have national champions, I don’t think that we should bend our competition laws to artificially create national champions. I think we have to tear down the barriers within the single market to let those champions grow themselves and they can take on the world, they can take on the US, and they can easily take on China.

(Applause)

One of the cornerstones of the single market is the financial system, the banks. Ten years ago, the biggest threat to the banks was liquidity, so we created a banking union to make sure that the ECB is overseeing the largest banks and to make it safer and ensure that the banks will be there tomorrow morning when we wake up. The world has changed since those ten years. Liquidity is not the main problem. A new problem has emerged, which is terrorism in Europe and the financing of terrorism. How does that often happen? Through illicit funds moving through the European banking system.

So where are we on anti-money laundering (AML)? In this House, I was the co—rapporteur, with Ms Sargentini, on the last two AML directives. I learned a thing or two about policy. Anti—money laundering legislation is all about risk assessment and reducing the risk of dirty money entering the system. To the east of Europe, we have a country, a big economy, Russia, and, for the past 20 years, money from Russia has been wanting to flee that country. Why? Because Europe is safe. Europe has the rule of law. In Europe no one takes their money away without going through the courts. You can’t do that.

That money wants to come to Europe. Some of it is clean, maybe most of it is clean, but some of it is not clean and those who are working with unclean money, the criminals – I’m not talking about people looking to optimise their tax returns and itemising something that may be an expense or not, I’m talking about hardened criminals that are moving millions of euros – are flying like hawks above the ground and they’re looking at the weak links in the chain: in this country, you can do that, in this country, you can do that, in this country, you can do that. Our country was also part of this chain and not alone.

Money laundering is a European problem. Since becoming Prime Minister, I don’t have the patience to wait for all of us to get our act together so I’m cleaning up my house.

(Applause)

We’re going to have the cleanest and the most resilient banking system in Europe. In one and a half years’ time, we’ll gladly consult anyone in this room in and in this House on how to clean up a banking system, but it is a little bit like fighting rats. I can make sure that I get the rats out of my house and my house will be clean, but what about my neighbours? The criminals may have left Latvia for now, but they have unfortunately – I’m convinced – not left Europe. So we have to clean the whole neighbourhood. That means that anti-money laundering supervision has to be centralised, just as prudential supervision, a very strong and important step forward.

(Applause)

Another concern of voters is immigration, the way of life. There are no simple answers here. I don’t have them. I don’t think anyone does. The truth is that Europe is a fantastic destination to come to live and to work. We have stable economies, we have stable democracies, we have the rule of law, we have individual freedom, and a lot of our neighbours do not. As autocracy grows, the pressure on wanting to come into the EU will only increase. It will not go away. So we have to learn to deal with it.

My country has dealt with a little bit of immigration as well. During the 50 years of Soviet occupation, more than 700 000 people – migrants – arrived in our country. That’s one third of the population. We’re only two million and 700 000 came in. Our government had no say over this because we had no government. It was Moscow making the decisions: fully making the decisions, no co—decision, no say.

After regaining independence, how have we dealt with it? With the one big ‘I’ word: integration. You have to work with the people, you have to work on your educational system, bring the people into our culture, bring the immigrants into your cultures. This is the way forward. We cannot fight that. You cannot stop people wanting to come into Europe. We are a preferred destination, but we have to work on integrating these people. But we can do something to mitigate the flows and the obvious answer to that is the outer border, Frontex. This is a wonderful programme that needs to be strengthened.

(Applause)

Because, if we can show our voters that we control the outer border, then we can have free inner borders and we won’t have the situation of a few years ago where, within the Schengen zone, we remember going between Strasbourg and Germany – those of us who stayed in hotels there – that the bridge was sometimes closed or they were checking every car. This is not the way forward. We need open internal borders for a single market to work, which means we need firm borders on the outside.

We will have to fund refugee camps, it is inevitable. We will have to fund development of economies and the rule of law in third countries. This is inevitable. And we have to work on integration. Europe is still a Union of 28 sovereign countries with their own national identities. It’s extremely important that we maintain our national identities, cultures and languages, and we do this through the process of integrating people who have come in. The arrivals have to adapt to our countries because that’s the way of the world, and this is what we need to work on. If we can show that we control the outer borders and we can integrate the arrivals, the voters will become much more relaxed about the entire issue.

The third concern: environment. Climate change – I won’t go into it deeply – is real. Mankind’s coal, oil and gas burning is contributing. We need to stop this. So the legislation, the direction, is absolutely correct: reduce CO2 emissions, increase renewables, increase energy efficiency. All of this has to be done. But we have a difficulty, which is that not all Member States have the same kind of energy mix. My own country is just behind Sweden. We are almost at 40% of renewables. We’re way ahead of the curve, but not everyone is ahead of the curve that way. Some countries are very coal-dependent and we cannot just wish fossil fuels away. Someone has to pay for the transition. So we need a little bit of time.

Regardless of how quickly we want to move, there’s one structural change that we need to make to make that change faster, and that is again – I’m a single market kind of person – opening up the market in energy to competition. You have to have competition for renewables to advance. I’ll just take one example: the electricity market. Many countries have regulated electricity prices. Consumers pay the same Monday morning, Monday evening, Monday night, Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Sunday night, so no one is motivated to think about when to turn on the dishwasher or the washing machine. It doesn’t matter: you pay the same all the time, so you are not motivated to save.

But in those markets where competition has been opened up, you have service providers that help you automatically regulate when you’re buying electricity based upon the price signals. In this way, we can reduce the overall needed capacity to supply the demand peak hours because, during the peak hours, you will be motivated, say, not to have your refrigerator go warmer by one or two degrees. If you can do that for millions of households, the savings are enormous. But you have to have deregulated markets. If you want renewables, you have to have deregulated markets. Competition everywhere.

(Applause)

The fourth concern: safety and security. It means different things to different Europeans. I think, in the south of Europe, when people think of safety and security, they are thinking about the threat of uncontrolled immigration, migration, terrorism – that’s another threat that people feel – and, in the west of Europe, maybe the biggest threat right now is of an uncontrolled Brexit, not only for trade but also for peace in Northern Ireland, a very, very real concern. I come from Latvia and it is no secret to anyone that, when Latvians think of safety, we think of Russia.

Russia is our eastern neighbour – as it is for all of Europe. Russia has a government that has one basic policy: it feels and it is convinced – and it is in their policy papers – that they are surrounded by enemies and always under attack. That is their dogma. That is their belief. So the way that they fight back is to make their enemies weaker. Right now in Europe, the biggest threat from Russia is not military. It’s a threat, but it is not the biggest threat. We have NATO and we have our own preparedness. The biggest threat is the threat of false, misleading, and downright lying information.

We live in the world of these wonderful devices that all of us have in our pockets or on our desks. I thought, as many of us did a few years ago, that this information is the age of having unlimited access to knowledge, to facts. Preparing a speech, you can go on the internet and find all kinds of crazy, good things.

But it also turns out that social media is a fantastic way to disseminate propaganda and downright lies instantaneously. As more and more people move away from getting their news from the mass media, from educated journalists that have certain ethics in checking their sources, and as more and more people are getting the news from social media, we have to do one important thing, namely to think seriously about legislating the responsibility of platforms, providers on the internet, of the content that is being disseminated. It’s a slippery slope, I admit, because it is a fine line between looking for responsibility and introducing censorship. As a Latvian, I will never support censorship. There is too much history there.

But we have to find that fine line, because this is an attack on our way of life. What are they looking to do? To divide society, to make us fight one another and to make us dislike one another. Think of the debate about vaccination. Where in the world does this argument come from that vaccination leads to autism? You can trace it back to the Russian outlets. They are disseminating this. They are still making people not be vaccinated and it is resulting in very serious health repercussions throughout Europe.

Immigration, the immigration debate behind that: also Russia. Brexit: very involved. We even have this bubble throughout all of Eastern Europe of George Soros as some terrible person who is somehow undermining our way of life, we’re being told. It all comes from one single source and, if we do not accept that fact, we cannot begin to address it. But I say, for safety and security, militarily, my country invests two per cent of its GDP into the military. We are part of NATO. We think everyone should be doing this. But military is one part of the equation. The second part – equally important – is combating the dissemination of false and misleading information, and there we have to consider legislation.

(Applause)

Finally, I wouldn’t be a Latvian politician if I didn’t mention at least a couple of things about the multiannual financial framework (MFF), the seven—year budget that all of us are in the midst of trying to come to terms with. I completely agree, as this Parliament does, that we in Europe need to invest more in research and development, and into the clever young minds that are going to really create the jobs and the growth in value and in wealth in the future. This is extremely important.

(Applause)

But it is equally important that, as we’re investing in R&D, we don’t just do it in one, two or five select capitals, but that investment moves throughout Europe. Why? Clever minds are everywhere in Europe. Everywhere in Europe needs growth. If we think of excellence only concentrated in a few countries, we actually do ourselves a disservice. So ‘yes’ to R&D, but it really has to go around Europe. That is very important.

Clever cohesion: cohesion is still important, but it has to be clever. We have to make sure that the poorer regions are converging upwards, a very important aspect of that.

Last but not least, the farmers in Europe. We know that historically the European budget has been all about the common agricultural policy (CAP). It was years back and it is still important, but, as a reminder. We have a historic chance to write a historic injustice.

All farmers in Europe compete in the same market so, if you sell grain, whatever, you sell it on the market. The price is what the market gives you. We subsidise, through direct payments, our farmers in Europe, but there’s a catch. We don’t subsidise our farmers equally or even close to equally. The three countries that are near the bottom of the pile, well below the average, are the three Baltic countries, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, for obtuse mathematical reasons dating back to the 1990s.

Our farmers are competing with everyone else’s farmers. The only way that they can compete is at the cost of their own well-being. They are forced to be poor to compete in the same market. So, if we subsidise – and I am open to not subsidising anyone, but I don’t think we’ll get there in the next seven years – we should do it equally across the board for everyone.

My speech comes to an end. You can breathe easier. Friends, the EU is not, and never will be, perfect. It’s not. But it is the best damn thing that I can think of. In Europe for hundreds – really thousands – of years, differences were settled through the force of muscle. Who was stronger prevailed, who was weaker: tough luck. No. The way that we work is by far better than anything that anyone has come up with to date.

Member States have joined of their own free will and with the consent of their citizens. Member States can leave the EU, but we see in Brexit that actually none of us realised how difficult that would be. But it is a testament to how Europe works – and also as a member of the Council I can say – that the goodwill and the unanimous position, the sticking together, of the remaining EU 27 is a testament that we can get through difficult times, through discussion, through debate – sometimes very long debate – without resorting to any kind of violence. This is the key to how the EU works: that we talk with one another and do not fight one another.

So what about the future? To sum up, I say we need to strengthen the basics.

Strengthen the single market, tear down the barriers, control our outer borders, and bring down the threat of uncontrolled immigration. Have a clever transition to clean energy, bringing in more market forces to play, and focus on our common security, not only through the military, but also through the security of the information world that we live in. Don’t fight the populists. Address the causes of people’s malcontent.

Left alone, we’re like Aesop’s sticks. We’re just individual sticks and we can be broken one by one. Even the large European countries are small in the world, but united, as that bundle of sticks, the European Union is a major force in the world and we can bring our core values – freedom, democracy and the rule of law – to take bearing on other countries.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. – Krišjānis, you are very popular in this Parliament.

 
  
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  Jean-Claude Juncker, président de la Commission. – Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Premier ministre, Mesdames et Messieurs les députés, je suis heureux de retrouver ici le Premier ministre de la Lettonie, qui connaît bien cet hémicycle pour y avoir siégé pendant neuf ans. Je suis d’autant plus heureux de le voir que je me rappellerai toujours de la première présidence lettone du Conseil des ministres. Je m’en rappelle parce que ce fut la première vraie présidence de cette Commission, après deux mois de cohabitation avec la présidence italienne. Je me souviens en particulier du dernier jour de cette présidence lettone: dans la nuit du 29 au 30 juin fut adoptée la directive sur les frais d’itinérance, qui garantit l’accès libre et sans discrimination à l’internet. Cela prouve par ailleurs qu’en Europe, il faut avoir de la patience et la garder jusqu’au tout dernier jour. Nous discutons souvent, comme si nous n’avions pas d’autres choses à faire, du Brexit. Avant les élections, il serait peut-être recommandable d’attirer l’attention des citoyens sur ce que nous avons su réaliser au cours des dernières années, notamment la décision utile sur le roaming. Le Brexit est important, mais la vie quotidienne des citoyens l’est plus.

(Applaudissements)

Nous avons voulu être la Commission du dialogue et nous l’avons été. Nous avons organisé des rencontres avec les citoyens: 1 600 dialogues citoyens, ce qui prouve d’ailleurs que les commissaires ne s’enferment pas dans le bunker du Berlaymont, mais circulent à travers l’Europe. Ce qui prouve aussi que la Commission n’est pas une bande de putschistes, d’illégitimes, mais que nous sommes quotidiennement au contact des citoyens.

L’Europe ne peut pas se faire contre la volonté des peuples ni sans les nations: les nations sont importantes. Ceux qui pensent que les nations sont une invention provisoire de l’histoire se trompent lourdement, les nations se sont installées dans la durée et par conséquent il ne faut plus, me semble-t-il, parler des États-Unis d’Europe, car cela donne l’impression que l’Union européenne est en train de s’étatiser. L’Europe ne sera jamais un État copiant le modèle des États-Unis d’Amérique, jamais! Nous voulons être Lettons, Allemands, Bavarois, Bretons, Français, Luxembourgeois, tout en étant aussi Européens. Il n’y a pas de contradiction entre le patriotisme responsable et l’appartenance à un ensemble plus grand que constitue l’Union européenne.

Notre Commission a voulu cesser d’interférer dans toutes les petites choses de la vie quotidienne des citoyens et se concentrer sur les grands enjeux de l’avenir. Tel fut le contrat que la Commission a passé avec vous, représentants élus de l’Europe, lorsqu’en juillet 2014, je vous ai présenté les grandes priorités politiques de ma Commission. Ce ne furent pas des propos en l’air. En mai 2018 déjà, nous avions présenté toutes les propositions et initiatives annoncées en 2014. À ce jour, 350 de nos propositions ont été adoptées et 164 restent sur la table des colégislateurs. Elles portent sur des réformes importantes, notamment le régime d’asile – j’aurais souhaité que nous puissions adopter toutes les directives qui gravitent autour de la nécessaire réforme du régime d’asile. J’ai tout de même une satisfaction: jamais, dans l’histoire parlementaire de l’Europe, autant de progrès n’avaient été accomplis en matière sociale. Le domaine social fut, pendant de trop longues années, l’enfant pauvre de la construction européenne. Je voulais remercier les députés d’avoir accompagné avec volonté et détermination les progrès sociaux que la Commission a initiés.

Language number two, Mr President. Latvia is a country that knows better than most what it takes and what it is worth to be part of our Union – the Prime Minister made this clear in his excellent speech a few moments ago. Your country, Prime Minister, has always taken its destiny into its own hands. You have lived up to the words of one of your famous poets, who said: ‘We will be as great as our will’. And you are, because your will is great.

(Applause)

You have fought for your freedoms in difficult circumstances – by far, more difficult than Western Europeans can ever imagine. You have made history, instead of being the victims of history imposed by one of your biggest neighbours. You have said ‘no’ to the guns and to the tanks, and you have fought for your liberty, for your freedom, and it is one of the best events in recent history that Latvia and others have gained freedom and have fought for their place in the sun. The place of Latvia was not in the dark and in the shadow; the place of Latvia is in the sun, and we are happy that you have joined the European Union. Not a single day did we regret that Latvia became a member of the European Union.

(Applause)

You have joined the Schengen area, and I fully agree with what you have said about internal borders and the protection of external borders. The Commission has proposed coastguards and border guards of 10 000 people, men and women. The Council was postponing this to 2027, whereas the Commission had proposed 2020, but everyone is saying we have to protect our external borders. Let’s do it. The proposals are on the table.

(Applause)

You are helping to make Europe stronger and safer. You are one of the 25 Member States that launched Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence matters in December 2017, and I am delighted that you are playing a full role in a number of European projects, from making cross-border military mobility easier – that’s important for Latvia, military mobility – you are making cross-border military mobility easier, and you are countering the threat of sea mines.

In doing so, you have become the embodiment and living proof of how Europe enhances national sovereignty and influence. Take energy – you mentioned this very important dimension of European policy. Your history and your geography meant that Latvia and the Baltics were an isolated energy island cut off from the rest of Europe. When we took office, we made it clear that the European Union will never leave its citizens out in the cold and will never leave a Member State in the dark. For me, this was a Baltic issue, yes, but not only a Baltic issue: it was a European one. This is why, when we took office, we created an Energy Union and made it a top priority to provide Latvia and its Baltic neighbours with stable, securer and cheaper energy they need. Today, we are well on the way to synchronising the Baltic electricity grid with the rest of Europe by 2025. We are investing in infrastructure, and we now have the world’s most ambitious and advanced climate and energy framework.

I’m delighted that we turned the Energy Union vision into reality and I thank you, I’m grateful to the Prime Minister for his leadership and work as a Member of this Parliament, and as a Prime Minister today.

Herr Präsident, language number three:

Lettland bringt seine volle Kraft in Europa ein. Deshalb ist es normal, dass Europa auch in Lettland investiert, denn in Lettland zu investieren, heißt in die europäische Zukunft zu investieren. Die Letten wissen aus erster Hand, welche Wirkung dies haben kann: 50 000 lettische Arbeitssuchende und fast 9 000 Beschäftigte konnten seit 2014 dank europäischer Mittel neue Qualifikationen erlernen, um auf dem Arbeitsmarkt durchzustarten. 300 Kilometer neu gebaute oder instandgesetzte Straßen, aus EU-Mitteln finanziert, werden dazu beitragen, das Wirtschaftszentrum Riga mit den ländlichen Regionen sowie den Nachbarn Litauen und Estland zu verbinden. 960 Millionen an Investitionen wurden dank des sogenannten Juncker-Fonds in Lettland mobilisiert.

Die lettische Zukunft betrifft unser aller Zukunft. Deshalb schlagen wir vor, im nächsten EU-Haushalt 100 Milliarden Euro in Innovation und Forschung zu investieren. Wir wollen in die großen Herausforderungen investieren, denen wir uns nur gemeinsam als Team stellen können. So wird beispielsweise die Finanzierung für stärkere Grenzen und Sicherheit verdreifacht. Wir werden sicherstellen, dass jeder vierte Euro des Haushalts unsere Ziele für Klima und nachhaltige Entwicklung unterstützt, und die Mittel für das Erasmus+-Programm werden auf 30 Milliarden Euro verdoppelt. Ich danke dem Premierminister und seiner Regierung für die anhaltende Unterstützung, um uns auf diesem Weg aktiv zu begleiten.

Ich würde aber auch gern etwas zu Ihrer Bemerkung die mittelfristige Finanzplanung betreffend sagen: Es ist richtig, dass wir in Innovation, Forschung, Jugend und Verteidigung investieren. Das können wir aber nur tun, wenn wir in bestehenden Politiken einige Kürzungen vornehmen: Agrar- und Kohäsionspolitik. Ich bin darüber nicht glücklich. Aber wenn wir alles so belassen, wie es ist, plus die neuen Prioritäten, auf die sich Rat und Parlament verständigt haben, auch finanzieren müssen, dann brächten wir den europäischen Haushalt auf ein Niveau von 1,4 %.

Das will niemand – mich würde das überhaupt nicht stören. Europa ist mehr wert als 1,4 % seines Bruttonationalprodukts, aber sogar das Parlament – in Haushaltsfragen weniger zurückhaltend als der Rat – hat das obere Limit für die Festlegung des europäischen Haushalts auf 1,3 % festgelegt. Wenn wir als Kommission 1,4 % statt 1,1 % vorgeschlagen hätten, dann hätten sogar Sie dem nicht zugestimmt und viele hier im Hause auch nicht. Insofern muss man Prioritäten setzen, ohne die bestehenden Politiken in der Mottenkiste unterzubringen. Denn Agrar und Kohäsion sind wichtig und für einige Länder wichtiger als für andere.

Lettland hat schwierige Jahre hinter sich, nicht nur wegen seiner geografischen Lage und wegen der historischen Belastung, der es unterliegt, sondern auch, weil die Wirtschaftskrise in Lettland voll zugeschlagen hat. Aber fünf Jahre nach dem Beginn unserer Amtszeit geht es der lettischen Wirtschaft deutlich besser. Das ist auch das Verdienst eines Ihrer Vorgänger, Valdis Dombrovskis, der Lettland auf Kurs gebracht hat. Und deshalb habe ich mich sehr darum bemüht – mit Erfolg, wie man sieht –, dass er Vizepräsident der Europäischen Kommission wird und zuständig für Euro und sozialen Dialog. Valdis, ich danke dir für deine Arbeit!

(Beifall)

Also mir fiele vieles ein zu dem, was du gesagt hast. Aber du hast so lange geredet, dass ich jetzt Schluss machen muss.

Lettland – mag ja sein – ist ein kleineres Land – ich bin Spezialist für kleinere Länder –, aber es ist ein Land mit großen Ambitionen, und es ist ein Ort, an dem West und Ost aufeinandertreffen. West und Ost dürfen nicht auseinanderdividiert werden, sondern sind die zwei Lungenflügel der Europäischen Union. Und wenn Europa gern eine gute Zukunft hätte, dann muss es mit beiden Lungen atmen.

Dies ist die letzte Rede, die ich vor diesem Parlament halten darf. Mit schwerem Herzen sehe ich einige Kollegen sich aus der Politik oder aus dem Parlament zurückziehen. Ich habe die Arbeit hier sehr gemocht – habe viel gelernt, habe viel gestritten, aber wir haben auch einiges geschafft. Es bleibt so, wie ich am ersten Tag meiner Amtszeit gesagt habe: Europa muss man lieben. Wenn man es nicht liebt, ist man zur Liebe nicht fähig. Ich liebe Europa, es lebe Europa!

(Lebhafter Beifall)

 
  
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  Le Président. – Merci beaucoup, Monsieur le Président de la Commission, merci beaucoup, cher Jean-Claude. Je te remercie pour cette coopération. Nous avons certes eu quelques fois certains échanges de vues, mais c’est cela le débat entre la Commission et le Parlement.

Le plus important est que nous avons travaillé tous pour nos citoyens, les citoyens européens. Nous avons besoin de l’Europe: bien sûr, il faudra la changer et l’améliorer, mais défendre l’Europe est la seule façon de protéger nos citoyens. Nous avons une histoire commune. Ce qui s’est passé il y a deux jours à Notre-Dame a démontré qu’il y a un cœur européen, que nous avons un héritage commun, que nous partageons les mêmes valeurs. Et cela même si nous parlons des langues différentes.

Voilà pourquoi je te remercie pour ton engagement, pour ton travail, pour les débats que nous avons eus ici. Un grand merci encore une fois, Jean-Claude. Nous nous verrons au Conseil, mais je te remercie pour ta disponibilité et ta présence ici, au Parlement. Un grand merci et bon travail.

 
  
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  Manfred Weber, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Mr President, what a great final speech in our row of Future of Europe discussions. I first want to thank our President for organising this format of the Future of Europe discussions and it’s great to have Krišjānis Kariņš now as the final speaker here in this plenary, with a great contribution, with a forward-looking vision for Europe and, we all can feel it, with your knowledge, Krišjānis, about how Europe works, how the European Parliament works. I probably can say that it would for the future be a great thing to have more prime ministers in office with the background of being a former Member of the European Parliament. That is what we really enjoyed today, thank you so much.

(Applause)

What I really like is that you started first of all with optimism. When we speak about Europe, about the future of Europe, it’s your country, about Latvia, the success story economically in the last years, all of this with the support, the contribution of Valdis Dombrovskis under his leadership. It’s a great economic success. It is a great success for the country when it is about the investments, which Jean—Claude Juncker mentioned, and about the security feeling, that Latvians feel protected because they are part of this strong union of the European Union, and it is about Russia and the external threats towards us.

Success stories when we speak about our mandate at the European level, which Jean—Claude underlined. In the last five years what we managed, what we have brought to the people of Europe, the success stories on management of the external border, the millions of new jobs created with the Juncker Plan, the sustainable growth and the front-runner to be at the front on the question of the fight against climate change on a global level. So we can be proud about what we did in the last five years under the leadership of Jean—Claude Junker.

Generally speaking, I’m 46 years old. I’m the first generation of this continent who can say that I live all over Europe in peace and freedom. My father’s generation enjoyed peace, but half of the continent was locked up behind the Iron Curtain and my grandfather’s generation was in war, and that’s why the first generation, and this broader historic perspective, to have this in mind when we go out of this plenary and do our campaign. It must start with optimism. It’s a great Europe we are living in today and we will protect this against all the egoists and nationalists.

(Applause)

The second point you mentioned is about the concrete issues on the table. The answers on the demand, the questions, the concerns of the people. You mentioned migration – we fully support your idea about protecting our borders. The state decides who is on European soil and it is not the smugglers who decide. We need a resettlement programme, an ambitious one, and we need a plan for Africa, with probably in the future also a Commissioner for Africa who combines all the efforts we need, all the activities we do in regard to our neighbouring continent.

The jobs question – research is key. The regional funds are key, especially for the poorest regions in Europe. Trade is key, and the single market. I like your appeal to strengthen the single market because that’s the home base. Looking for new jobs, we first of all look to our strengths and not to the strengths of the others. And then climate change. All these things are on the agenda, but when we are speaking about the future of Europe you also have to be frank, because one thing is the content, the political approach, but the other is the method: how we come to results, and you know the problems.

On a lot of fields where we need a stronger Europe, we have the problem of the unanimous vote. I call it the problem of the unanimous vote. When it is about the Russian policy, we always need all 27 countries on board to come to conclusions and that’s why we have to stop. If we want to make the European Union into a strong political actor at global level, then we need the majority-making decision process in external affairs. That’s why the methods must be changed.

When I speak about methods, I think keeping the bridge—building approach alive is needed. I tell you on migration: my own country Germany was, in the migration debate, against all the Commission’s ideas in regard to a binding quota on the question of distribution of migrants – until the year 2015, because then the migration problem arrived in Germany and immediately, in one, two, three months’ time, Germany changed its mind and immediately started asking for a binding quota mechanism on Europe. And what does this tell us? This tells us: don’t look from an egoistic point to Europe. We have to learn that we also have to take into account the problem of the others when we want to have a strong European Union.

(Applause)

Finally, on the method: a Europe which is democratic. We all know what we speak about. It’s a question of right of initiative here in this House, strengthening the investigation capacity of this House. The implementation of the rules must be checked also by this institution, and Krišjānis, I’m really grateful that you support the idea of the Spitzenkandidat, the idea that you have to show up before the elections to tell people, ‘I’m a candidate from all the parties in this House, and we have programmes and we ask for this support’. So a democratic Europe.

And finally, the future of Europe means that we have to protect the essence of Europe. We spoke about the European way of life, about democracy, independence of our judiciary, equal treatment of men and women, and, as a title, freedom: freedom of expression, of religion, of the press. We have to guarantee these rights for the future with an upgraded rule of law mechanism, give the world a positive example of how to manage positively society in a human way; that Europe is an offer, the European way of life is an offer to the world – that’s the future of Europe.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Mercedes Bresso, a nome del gruppo S&D. – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, Primo ministro, è un grande onore oggi darle il benvenuto nelle Sue nuove funzioni di Primo ministro in questo emiciclo che, come Lei ha ricordato, conosce bene per essere stato deputato durante quasi dieci anni. Un onore ancora più grande perché Lei non solo è l'ultimo capo di governo prima delle prossime elezioni europee, ma anche per aver enunciato nel suo discorso, e La ringraziamo, importanti prospettive sull'Unione che avremo il dovere di costruire dopo il 26 maggio e, per queste ragioni, Le porgo il benvenuto a nome del gruppo dei Socialisti e Democratici.

Come ultimo capo di governo che viene a visitare questo Parlamento, che è ormai agli sgoccioli dell'ottava legislatura, la Sua visita è per noi anche un'eccellente opportunità per discutere sul Suo paese, la Lettonia, e il ruolo all'interno dell'Unione europea. Per noi parlamentari europei, è sempre un evento positivo incontrare uno dei nostri ex colleghi, come molti hanno ricordato, nelle vesti di rappresentanti di un esecutivo nazionale. Ne siamo lieti, speriamo che aumentino.

Detto questo, siamo portavoce in questa Assemblea di un'aspirazione comune e concreta dei cittadini europei, quella di costruire insieme un'Unione forte per essere in grado di affrontare le sfide del nostro tempo, poiché, da solo, uno Stato membro che sia di piccole dimensioni come il suo o con una popolazione maggiore come il mio paese, l'Italia o la Francia o altri, non solamente Lei ce lo ha ricordato, non può fare nulla contro gli effetti negativi della globalizzazione o dei cambiamenti climatici, ma neppure può assicurare la propria difesa o garantire uno sviluppo economico al suo paese di una certa importanza.

Per inciso, Presidente Juncker, anch'io come Lei amo l'Europa, ma milito per gli Stati Uniti d'Europa, Stati al plurale, non al singolare, quindi, non grande Stato europeo ma degli Stati Uniti veramente d'Europa e quindi non vedo dov'è il problema. Grazie comunque per il Suo impegno per l'Europa, anche da parte del mio gruppo, visto che oggi, come ha ricordato, è la Sua ultima presenza in questo Parlamento. Abbiamo apprezzato il Suo impegno, se non per gli Stati Uniti d'Europa per un'Europa unita, che forse è ancora di più degli Stati Uniti d'Europa.

Signor Primo ministro, speriamo che quello che ci ha detto rappresenti un più grande impegno europeo del Suo governo, che fino ad ora ha manifestato alcuni segnali di ambiguità riguardo appunto al suo colore europeista. In un contesto in cui gli Stati europei non riescono più a pesare individualmente nello scacchiere internazionale, non sarebbe il tempo, come ha ricordato anche il collega, di porre fine alla regola dell'unanimità nelle decisioni del Consiglio, che anche Lei d'altronde sostiene ed accetta, regola che valorizza purtroppo solo gli interessi individuali e particolari degli Stati membri a scapito dell'interesse generale dell'Unione?

Vuole continuare a svolgere la funzione di cane da guardia di un conclave europeo dove le decisioni necessarie sono continuamente rimandate o persino non prese, proprio quando il bisogno di un'Europa forte è così doveroso ed inderogabile, Lei ce lo ha ricordato. In quale capitolo vuole trovarsi nei libri di storia, dalla parte degli interessi dei cittadini europei o di coloro che avranno difeso l'interesse di élite moderatamente e tiepidamente europeiste?

Mi permetto di insistere, vuole trovarsi dalla parte di chi ha reso il progetto europeo in attivo, proteggendo il dominio riservato di un gruppo o di una élite o dalla parte di chi ha dato allo stesso progetto gli strumenti utili, compreso anche un bilancio per sviluppare appieno le proprie potenzialità?

Per noi socialisti e democratici, l'Europa si costruisce attraverso la legge e mediante il rispetto. I diritti umani, naturalmente, ma anche i diritti civili, nonché il rispetto della parola data alla comunità. Da gennaio le affermazioni che Lei ha espresso in Europa e nel Suo paese hanno sollevato numerose domande alle quali vorremmo Lei desse qualche risposta.

In primo luogo, a proposito del rispetto dell'impegno europeo per il ricollocamento dei rifugiati in Europa. Lei ha affermato di essere contrario a questo reinsediamento. Ma come fare le redistribuzioni? Come fare se abbiamo, come Lei ha detto, una frontiera comune? Questa posizione contraddice quel principio di solidarietà che Lei ci ha richiamato e che si applica a tutte le nostre politiche comunitarie compresa ad esempio la politica di coesione. Quindi che cosa ci può dire concretamente su questa questione?

In secondo luogo, che dire del Suo rifiuto di sostenere il lancio della procedura di infrazione sulla base dell'articolo 7 nei confronti di Ungheria e Polonia. Come spiega questo Suo rifiuto, con le Sue critiche giuste alla politica di Vladimir Putin e al Suo sostegno nei confronti dell'asse di estrema destra che va appunto da Salvini a Orbán? Può illustrarci le sue opinioni in proposito? Non ritiene che questa sia una contraddizione?

Ultimo punto, ma non per importanza, quali sono le misure messe in atto dal Suo governo di fronte all'inasprimento delle discriminazioni nei confronti delle persone LGBT? Nella relazione della Commissione europea contro il razzismo e l'intolleranza dello scorso marzo, questa Commissione indica gravi disfunzioni nell'attuazione di misure a tutela di queste minoranze. La nostra Unione è un'Unione sotto il segno della tolleranza e Lei e il Suo paese, come ci ha ricordato, ne fanno parte e ne condividono i valori.

La ringrazio, ancora una volta, per il suo intervento e anche per le risposte che vorrà dare alle mie domande.

 
  
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  Roberts Zīle, ECR grupas vārdā. – Prezidenta kungs! Komisijas priekšsēdētāja kungs! Premjerministra kungs! Prieks jūs šeit redzēt un paldies par enerģisko un ļoti saturisko runu kā lieliskam valodniekam, politiķim un arī labam kolēģim, ar kuru mēs esam strādājuši gan Latvijas politikā, gan arī šeit, Eiropas Parlamentā, roku rokā daudzos jautājumos.

Un es gribētu arī kolēģu uzmanību vērst uz lieliskajām dāmām, kas ir Krišjāņa Kariņa komandā. Jūs redzat tajās pirmās rindās ap viņu. Es domāju, ka mēs varam lepoties visādā ziņā ar mūsu diplomātisko korpusu Latvijā. Un paldies par jūsu darbu!

Es arī nenožēloju nevienu dienu ne iestāšanos Eiropas Savienībā, ne eirozonā, bet tai pašā laikā es varu teikt to, ka es esmu ļoti daudzas reizes nožēlojis to un nevaru lepoties vai piekrist tai Eiropas Savienības politikai, kas šeit tiek realizēta, un arī par viņas tēlu un seju, ja tā varētu teikt. Un es par to arī runāšu savā tālākajā runā.

I am really and glad that your speech didn’t include so simple an approach. Everything is all right here in the European Union, and so let’s peacefully evaluate our achievements and let’s make an ever-closer Union. I’m very thankful that you did it more in detail and with more analytical suggestions.

The European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) is always a political family which supports a pure, real single market in any sector of the economy. I think we have here some doubts, which partly you shared already. You said you are not very happy with European champions, which should be created. I trust you, but national champions are European Union champions, so we can see a bit of disagreement with your Spitzenkandidat Mr Manfred Weber, who some time ago said in the media that you would agree to change some rules on state aid and competition in the EU to allow the creation of such champions, which I think is the wrong message to the economy, because also the message ‘Europe which protects’ sounds good – but to protect from whom? From the outside world? Okay, for a short-term it works, but in the longer run, it’s a wrong way. Even more dangerous, I think, is protection inside the single market, and here I can give an example, which you partly already said on the basis of the US, with zero barriers between states in the US, if you would like to see a similar situation in the European Union.

We recently approved Mobility Package I with a very controversial procedure, I would say. After this vote, it’s clear that it was the Latvian government, the Lithuanian, Polish governments, Romanians, Hungarians: many countries were against it in Council, and MEPs from different political families from those countries were against it. Then it’s a question if it’s bad for those countries and it’s good for Europe, where is Europe? This, I think, is a bad signal. If you can imagine the US doing the same Mobility Package I approach in the road freight market in the US, for example, to return an empty truck from New York to Wyoming, I think it would be a disaster, and I’m not even speaking about the things for the budget. We are fighting here for around 1% of GDP, and we will fight after the new Parliament as well. But, at the same time, we forget that the US federal budget is over 20% of GDP, and that’s why people also living in the same Wyoming. I think we have to think about these things if we really would like to create some more kind of a federalist approach – not the ECR, but other Groups, you have to remember this.

I fully agree with the AML function, which is the tax arrears report also here evaluated Latvian achievement on definition in the legislation about shell companies, which are very big points in anti-money-laundering issues, and at the same time there was not named in the TAX3 report about Latvia, but there was named some country which is not very far from here, and it’s between Brussels and Strasbourg.

I also would like to say that it’s good that you touch a point on R&D. Of course, research and development innovations are very important as well, and it’s good that it’s growing. You rightly said ‘but’ – but how it is distributed – and it’s a very important point, not only what you named but also from a demographic point of view. It means if we will continue or even with a widening programme – the Horizon Programme – which is a good programme, but it’s still not working enough. So we will expect that the demographic situation in the European Union will be even more divided if we continue like that, because the best researchers, the best brains and best young people should go to those centres, to those countries in the EU Member States, and it means peripheral countries will have a lot of demographic problems. Some countries will solve in the medium term the demographic situation in the country and also achievement in economy, but disparities in the European Union will be even greater than they are now.

I just made a few points which partly agree with you and partly, I just like to continue on this problem. In general I think in the new Parliament we can have a good, reasonable political family cooperation between different Groups on a pure, real, single market, keep as a core principle in the European Union in the future.

 
  
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  Pavel Telička, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, let me welcome the Prime Minister back to the European Parliament. Prime Minister, you made a comment at the beginning of your speech that you had learnt a few lessons in the European Parliament. I cannot resist drawing a parallel, a fake one in fact, because under that assumption I would like, even though I would never vote for him, the Czech Prime Minister to be a Member of the European Parliament and maybe then we would have a different policy by the Czech Government on European affairs.

But apart from that of course, you had one advantage. You had knowledge and you had attitude. I’m afraid that these are absolutely necessary otherwise you cannot evolve. So I’m afraid that that doesn’t go hand in hand with the parallel that I’ve made for the Czech Prime Minister.

Now you also mentioned the question of languages. I’m sure you speak a number of languages and understand quite a few. I don’t think that you speak or understand Czech, but I must say that what you have said is like reading the election manifesto of my own political movement, Voice or Hlas, and that is positive news, because that means that regardless of the fact that you’re in the PPE and I’m a Liberal, there are a number of questions on which we can and we should seek European solutions, on a number of issues that we can also agree with other parties, and I think that this is what we need to be aiming at after the next election. So I’m sure there are a number of points where we would have a large degree of coherence.

Let me pick up on a few points that you raised.

Simplified solutions: you referred to nationalists and populists. I agree entirely. We should be tackling the cause of these, the cause of the concerns and also the concerns of those that we have lost somewhere in the process of globalisation. But then we also need to be honest and fair and say that we also have some homework to do, that even in our own political families, in our political groups, in political parties, we will find those that are providing these simplistic solutions. So I think that we need to tackle this across the political spectrum and I’m definitely ready to do that.

Now on the points that you raised. You spoke about the internal market. I think that there is hardly anyone in this Parliament that would say that the internal market is not successful. That we need to evolve it, yes, In fact, only 35% of the internal market is really open. That means that we have a potential of 65%. How come we do not manage? And you have said it clearly. There is a reason to go and do business in the US because you have an internal market in the US. If you invent an application, you go to the US because you will have one authorisation and three, let’s say, contracts with mobile operators. We need 28 still. So the question is: if we want a true internal market, are we ready to go for one regulator, a true internal market?

You made the parallel also, or let’s say the connection, with the unfair competition from China and elsewhere, and again I agree and we should not lean towards protectionism. But we need to understand that if we open up the market – and I’m all in favour – then the advantage is on the side of those that cheat and also of those that are big. So let’s not fool ourselves that we will establish an internal market and suddenly our start-ups will be in the same position as Huawei or Microsoft, or whoever.

So that means that we need to work also on the standards, on the norms, and also on competition policy. We need to have a fair environment inside and the question is: do we have the courage and the willingness to go and establish a true internal market, and not at 35% but 100%. I’m all in favour. If you are, let’s work on it.

Now you spoke also about the question of external borders. Absolutely! I mean this is absolutely key but we still are failing in this respect. I’m afraid, if I look at the Czech Republic, there are a lot of statements on the side of the political elite and again they lack the courage, the ability, the vision to understand that we will have an internal market, we will have free movement, if we really secure the border.

Final two remarks: on climate change, and again this is just a sign that on climate change we have an ability to work across the political spectrum.

And the very final point. You touched on the common agriculture policy and fair treatment for farmers. Yes, indeed. We do not have a common agriculture policy because from a number of national budgets we have additional subsidies that go beyond. So we need a free and, as well, a fair treatment of our business people, of our entrepreneurs, of our consumers, and again also of farmers.

 
  
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  Δημήτριος Παπαδημούλης, εξ ονόματος της ομάδας GUE/NGL. – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, η σημερινή συζήτηση είναι ιδιαίτερα σημαντική, διότι σε λίγες ώρες ολοκληρώνονται οι εργασίες της Ολομέλειας του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοινοβουλίου. Είναι η τελευταία ομιλία του προέδρου Juncker ενώπιον της Ολομέλειας και υποδεχόμαστε τον λετονό πρωθυπουργό, ο οποίος ήταν και για εννιά χρόνια συνάδελφός μας στο Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο και είναι ο δωδέκατος πρωθυπουργός που έρχεται εδώ για να συζητήσουμε σχετικά με το μέλλον της Ευρώπης. Σαράντα ημέρες πριν από τις σημαντικές ευρωεκλογές που έχουμε μπροστά μας, δεν νομίζω ότι είναι η ώρα να αυτοεπαινούμαστε και να επισημαίνουμε κάποια θετικά που έχουν γίνει. Πρέπει να δούμε το μέλλον, τις προκλήσεις του μέλλοντος και όσα δεν έχουμε κάνει ή όσα έχουμε κάνει λάθος, για να καταλάβουμε ότι αυτός είναι ο τρόπος αντιμετώπισης της ανερχόμενης λαϊκίστικης ακροδεξιάς που θέλει να διαλύσει τόσο την ευρωπαϊκή ενοποίηση, ως σχέδιο, όσο και τις κοινωνίες μας.

Αναφερθήκατε, κύριε Kariņš, στον αρχαιοελληνικό μύθο του Αισώπου με τις βέργες —μία βέργα σπάει εύκολα, πολλές βέργες μαζί δεν σπάνε. Αυτό είναι σωστό, αλλά πρέπει να δούμε εμείς, στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση, πού βρισκόμαστε δέκα χρόνια μετά την κρίση της Lehman Brothers. Έχουν μεγαλώσει οι ανισότητες, κοινωνικές και περιφερειακές, έχει υποχωρήσει μέσα στην Ευρώπη το κράτος δικαίου και η κοινοβουλευτική δημοκρατία, το Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο και η Επιτροπή έχουν ζητήσει την ενεργοποίηση του άρθρου 7 εναντίον των κυβερνήσεων της Πολωνίας και της Ουγγαρίας, και στο Συμβούλιο δεν κάνετε τίποτα για τις παραβιάσεις της δημοκρατίας.

Το Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο και η Επιτροπή έχουν ολοκληρώσει μια πρόταση για τη μεταρρύθμιση των πολιτικών ασύλου, συνολικά επτά φακέλους, και στο Συμβούλιο οι κυβερνήσεις δεν κάνετε τίποτα. Η Επιτροπή, η Ευρωπαϊκή Κεντρική Τράπεζα και το Ευρωκοινοβούλιο θέλουν την ολοκλήρωση της τραπεζικής ενοποίησης, με τον τρίτο πυλώνα που αφορά το ευρωπαϊκό σύστημα εγγύησης καταθέσεων, και στο Συμβούλιο δεν κάνετε τίποτα. Ακριβέστερα, κάποιες κυβερνήσεις, όπως της Γερμανίας και της Ολλανδίας, έχουν θέσει ουσιαστικά βέτο. Αν θέλουμε, λοιπόν, να προχωρήσει η Ευρώπη και να γίνει πιο ισχυρή η πολιτική ενοποίηση, ισχυρότερη η πολιτική διαφάνεια, να ενισχυθεί η κοινωνική συνοχή και να κάνουμε περισσότερα πράγματα για την αντιμετώπιση της κλιματικής αλλαγής, όπως μας ζήτησε χθες η δεκαεξάχρονη Greta Thunberg, τότε θα πρέπει να σταματήσει η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση, κύριε Weber, να είναι μια ομάδα κρατών όπου συζητούν είκοσι οχτώ και στο τέλος αποφασίζουν οι Γερμανοί. Αυτό πρέπει να αλλάξει.

Και θέλω να σημειώσω ότι συμφωνώ με την παρατήρηση του προέδρου Juncker, ότι για να υπηρετήσουμε τους στόχους που έχουν τεθεί χρειάζεται και ένας ισχυρότερος κοινοτικός προϋπολογισμός με περισσότερα χρήματα στο κοινό ταμείο. Γιατί πρέπει να μην περικοπούν αλλά, αντίθετα, να ενισχυθούν τα κονδύλια για την κοινωνική συνοχή. Να μην περικοπούν αλλά, αντίθετα, να ενισχυθούν τα κονδύλια για την Κοινή Αγροτική Πολιτική. Να δώσουμε περισσότερα χρήματα για τη νεολαία, το Εrasmus +, την απασχόληση, την έρευνα και την καινοτομία. Και σας ρωτώ, κύριε Kariņš, ως εκπρόσωπο του Συμβουλίου, αλλά και ως παλιό ευρωβουλευτή: γιατί έχετε πετάξει στα σκουπίδια τις προτάσεις της επιτροπής Monti για την αύξηση των ιδίων πόρων; Πώς μπορεί να προχωρήσει η πολιτική ενοποίηση της Ευρώπης, η οικονομική ολοκλήρωση της ΟΝΕ και η νομισματική ενοποίηση, χωρίς να κοιτάμε το κοινωνικό θέμα;

Κύριε Juncker και κύριε Kariņš, στο Γκέτεμποργκ εγκρίθηκε η κοινωνική ατζέντα, αλλά παραμένει μια απλή ετικέτα. Δεν έχει αποκτήσει περιεχόμενο και, όσο αυξάνονται οι ανισότητες, θα κερδίζει έδαφος ο λαϊκισμός των ακροδεξιών που θέλουν να διαλύσουν τόσο την Ευρώπη όσο και τη δημοκρατία. Πριν από ογδόντα χρόνια, οι πολιτικοί πρόγονοι του κυρίου Salvini, της κυρίας Le Pen και του κυρίου Orbán —που κακώς τον κρατάτε, κύριε Weber, με αναστολή στις γραμμές του Ευρωπαϊκού Λαϊκού Κόμματος— οδήγησαν στον φασισμό και τον ναζισμό και σε έναν πολύνεκρο πόλεμο. Εάν θέλουμε, λοιπόν, να υπερασπίσουμε τη δημοκρατία, πρέπει στις επόμενες ευρωεκλογές να αποκτήσει μια ισχυρή πλειοψηφία μέσα στο Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο η άποψη που λέει ότι χρειαζόμαστε μια περισσότερο ενωμένη πολιτικά, δημοκρατική και κοινωνική Ευρώπη, που να μειώνει τις ανισότητες και να μην τις αυξάνει.

 
  
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  Philippe Lamberts, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, welcome back to a parliament you know very well indeed. We’ve not always been of one mind on economic affairs, but I have always been very impressed by the strength of your commitment to our common European project, and again today was a testament to that. And actually you are quite typical of that commitment that you find in the Baltic republics. I believe that the three Baltics and the Benelux countries should cooperate much more deeply, because if they can find agreement between them, I think they could be bridge-builders and foster unity in Europe maybe better than the Franco-German duo, which seems to be a bit at odds at the moment.

I liked very much your speech. I liked you reminding us that the European Union is a peace project solving differences through dialogue rather than sheer force. This is not just a justification for the past century. It is today’s justification for the European project. I liked very much the metaphor of the bundle. Like you, I come from a small country, but even big countries in Europe, as you said, are actually small as a yardstick globally.

I liked very much also what you said about the single market. The single market is the ultimate free trade agreement. But it is very specific, because unlike all other free trade agreements, it is governed by democratic institutions: the European Parliament, the European Council. You don’t find that elsewhere in other free trade deals. I liked also very much the fact that you were upfront about money laundering, and I think that you found the right words, and we like to hear them, because I know that your commitment on that is very strong. However, I’d like also to beg to disagree, not necessarily with what you said, but with a number of positions and actions of the Latvian Government.

First, for us Greens the European project must resolutely choose to be a leader: the engine of the ecological transition of our societies. If we can’t make them fit within the boundaries that nature sets us, it’s the survival of humankind that is at stake. It’s also a matter of leadership: if we Europeans don’t lead in that transition, others will, and we will be left with buying their solutions rather than providing ours to the rest of the world. One case in point, and you mentioned it, is agriculture. The common agricultural policy is the EU’s largest budget. We should make sure every euro-cent spent on it is used and contributes to the transformation of our agricultural model so that it reduces CO2 emissions and restores biodiversity and the quality of our soil. Arguably, the CAP predominantly promotes a productivist model that goes against these goals – and your government supports it – and actually you find it already too green for your taste. I understand that your country – and I agree with that – wants its fair share of the CAP. We are convinced, though, that the best chance of achieving that target is actually to fight for a greener CAP that moves away from the productivist model and to industrial farming.

The second aspect relates to citizenship. You mentioned the European values, and actually if you read Article 2, the first value that is mentioned there is human dignity. Human dignity cannot be divided: it is for all, present and to come. Latvia’s history as an unwilling part of the Soviet Union has resulted in a significant part of your citizenship originating from former Soviet republics. While we understand that the wounds of the past cannot be ignored, we believe that, as a member of the EU, Latvia is strong enough not to keep more than 10% of its population stateless. Similarly, we believe that your country could and should do more to promote minority rights and fight discrimination, especially when it comes to age, disability or sexual orientation.

Thirdly, we have welcomed – and again, today you managed to avoid this – the fact that all three Baltic republics have avoided the toxic grandstanding that we have seen on the topic of asylum and migration. I really appreciated your words on that. However, recently your government opposed any binding relocation scheme – which is actually the only way to organise European solidarity. It has also refused to sign the UN Global Migration Compact, which, contrary to the allegations of the national populists, is simply providing guidelines as to how to handle this challenge. You and I know that it is not legally binding and that it is grounded in values of state sovereignty, responsibility-sharing, non-discrimination and human rights, and it recognise that only a cooperative approach will allow us to meet this challenge. Latvia’s signature should be on that document.

With the European elections now upon us, this is the last debate on the future of Europe in this European Parliament. Count on us to relentlessly defend the first-ever attempt at building a transnational democracy. But equally, count on us to make it work for everyone, by putting human dignity rather than short-term economic profits at the front and in the centre. A more just, more sustainable, more free and democratic Europe is what our citizens want. We will ask that they trust us to deliver just that.

 
  
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  David Coburn, on behalf of the EFDD Group. – Mr President, a Happy Easter to you all, when it comes. Public outpouring of distress about the destruction of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris shows how deeply we care about the cultural and religious heritage of Europe. Any unity the continent of Europe has, based on its philosophical and religious heritage deriving from Roman law, Greek philosophy, Christian faith and, dare I say, British democracy (as a more recent example), while it was drawing up the constitution of Europe, later the Lisbon Treaty, which we didn’t like very much, the EU rejected any reference to God or Christian religion in Europe. Well, this is something alien to the continent of Europe. The EU itself, with its project of aggressive secularism – as Roger Scruton called it, oikophobia – is the rejection of our own heritage and culture, which is the basis of our current cultural weakness and why many people throughout Europe are more and more rejecting the European Union.

The European project is like a terrifying religious cult, something invented by Mr Robespierre or something of that ilk. The Prime Minister, Mr Kariņš, with all due respect, said Russia had something to do with Brexit. Sorry, sir. The British people, who stood alone in 1940 against authoritarianism, are quite capable of making up their own minds about Europe. What they don’t want is bureaucratic authoritarianism from unelected European bureaucracy. I mean, let’s be honest, this Parliament is a bit of a eunuch. They want to be ruled by their own sovereign parliaments. At the moment our own parliament is dominated by an establishment which has been infiltrated over 30 years or more by members of the Euro-cult, who are preventing a simple Brexit – something that could easily be done; we could have easily just said we’re leaving with WTO rules or give us a better deal. And if they didn’t, we could have left with WTO rules. But the Euro-cultists decided otherwise, including, may I say, our own Prime Minister, Mrs May, who has misled the country in many ways.

Dreaming up lots of nonsense about unnecessary backstops in Ireland, which seem intended to break up the EU for daring to leave the Euro-cult, the establishment at Westminster are out of touch with their own voters, and this is seen increasingly to be the case. If the EU and its UK-establishment allies force Mrs May’s grossly unfair and ludicrous deal down Britain’s throats (which is actually worse than actually being in the European Union), to avoid a European election (which I think you’re all trying to do at the moment; Mrs May certainly is – you probably want it too), because it will be won by Mr Farage’s Brexit party. And if not, may I tell you, if you don’t have that election, the following general election in great Britain will be won by Mr Farage’s Brexit party. Evidently, we need to clean out the Euro-cultists out of the parliament of Westminster to get a proper Brexit.

I told Mr Barnier (sadly he is not here with us today), who I think is an excellent negotiator – I wish he was on our side – to his surprise, may I say, that the British Parliament cannot bind its successors. If you don’t give us a fair deal, it won’t stick, so you’re wasting your time. However, it seems more important to the Euro-cultists to make sure that they get their cult together, that they keep the project going, than a profitable deal with Great Britain, which benefits the citizens of not only Europe, but great Britain.

The European Union must govern by consent, not punishing, like a modern inquisition, those countries or individuals who do not share your faith. Learn from history, especially people in the Low Countries – Mr Lamberts, for example – learn from history. The free thinkers of the Spanish Netherlands in the Low Countries overthrew the Inquisition, which was dominating Europe and stopping people thinking and acting for themselves. Their rebellion against the Spanish Inquisition led to free-thinking democracies in the Low Countries and in the United Kingdom. Thank God for them. The free thinkers of today are what you call populists. Personally, I’d rather be a populist than an un-populist, but there you are. What you dismissively describe as populist will be elected shortly, from all over Europe to this next Parliament, and they will dominate it. They will dominate it and they will change radically the EU, or they will break it. Bend with the wind or be crushed, I think is the thing you’ve got to think about. The EU is as much a threat to European democracy in the same way the Inquisition was in the 16th century to free thinking and democracy.

Prime Minister Kariņš said, we do not have to worry about migration, and that many people want to come to a stable, democratic continent. I don’t blame them. If I were living in the third world or any other part of the world that wasn’t Europe, I’d want to come here too. Who can blame those people? If I were in their position, I’d want that. But if the numbers change, the philosophy and the democratic nature of the European continent, that is neither in the interests of the people who live here or the people who are coming here. It will be a disaster. So the other thing to worry about is the crushing of their health service. So Europe can only survive by rule by consent, not the force they have used on the UK. You have frightened a lot of counties but not in a good way.

 
  
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  Presidente. – Onorevole ha ragione, l'onorevole Coburn ha parlato più del tempo concesso, ma ho concesso a tutti i presidenti dei gruppi di parlare di più. Non è che posso concedere a chi condivido più tempo e a chi non condivido meno tempo. Le regole sono uguali per tutti.

 
  
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  Nicolas Bay, au nom du groupe ENF. – Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Premier ministre, l’effroyable incendie qui a frappé Notre-Dame de Paris nous conduit bien sûr à prendre conscience de la fragilité de notre patrimoine. Voir l’un des plus beaux joyaux et des plus beaux symboles de notre civilisation européenne ravagé par les flammes a meurtri le cœur des Français et des Européens. Heureusement, l’action admirable des sapeurs-pompiers a permis de sauver une large partie de l’édifice, qui pourra ainsi être restauré et retrouver sa splendeur. Et quelle joie d’apprendre que le trésor de Notre-Dame, la couronne d’épines et la tunique de Saint-Louis ont été sauvés! Mais cette tragédie doit provoquer un sursaut, une prise de conscience sur la nécessité de protéger, de transmettre notre patrimoine, bien sûr, mais, d’une manière plus générale, notre héritage de civilisation européenne et chrétienne.

Monsieur le Premier ministre, vous avez évoqué tout à l’heure ceux que vous appelez les eurosceptiques, considérant qu’ils seraient opposés à l’idée même de la construction européenne. Vous faites une erreur totale: nous croyons en l’Europe. Nous sommes convaincus qu’il y a une civilisation européenne, une culture commune, et qu’il y a d’immenses défis à relever ensemble. Mais cette volonté exige aussi de la lucidité. Vous avez dit tout à l’heure, s’agissant de l’immigration, que vous n’aviez pas de solution, que nous ne pouvions rien faire pour empêcher cette immigration. La réalité est que nous pouvons agir et Matteo Salvini, en Italie, le montre chaque jour. Mais il y a clairement deux choix: d’un côté, M. Avramopoulos, le commissaire européen, qui nous disait qu’il fallait de l’immigration pour compenser le déficit démographique et, de l’autre, les gouvernements courageux en Italie, en Hongrie, qui mettent en œuvre de grandes politiques – sociales, fiscales, de soutien aux familles, d’encouragement à la natalité européenne. Clairement, il y a deux visions qui s’affrontent, entre ceux qui acceptent ou qui encouragent l’immigration et ceux qui veulent au contraire la fermeté migratoire et l’encouragement à la natalité européenne.

En matière d’économie, l’Union européenne s’est caractérisée par la suppression de toutes les protections: à l’intérieur, avec le marché commun, avec la concurrence déloyale, avec le travail détaché, et à l’extérieur, en multipliant les accords de libre-échange et l’abaissement des tarifs douaniers. Aujourd’hui, la Chine ou les États-Unis se protègent, sont capables de mettre en place toutes les protections utiles pour leur marché intérieur et, évidemment, sont conquérants, offensifs, dans le reste du monde. Ils utilisent bien souvent le continent européen comme un espace où ils peuvent agir économiquement très librement, souvent au détriment de notre économie réelle, de nos unités de production et de nos salariés. Là encore, clairement, deux visions politiques s’affrontent, entre ceux qui considèrent l’Espace économique européen comme un terrain de jeu totalement ouvert et ceux qui, comme nous, veulent une Europe qui soit économiquement et commercialement protégée.

S’agissant de son organisation institutionnelle, l’Europe doit renouer aussi avec la démocratie. Face au pouvoir aujourd’hui exorbitant de la Commission européenne, j’ai entendu tout à l’heure M. Weber, les socialistes, mais aussi les soutiens d’Emmanuel Macron en France, nous dire qu’il fallait aller encore plus loin en supprimant la règle de l’unanimité – un nouveau cliquet dans le fédéralisme. Les mêmes d’ailleurs demanderont demain la suppression de la majorité qualifiée, puis la fin de la majorité simple pour aboutir finalement à un fonctionnement de plus en plus opaque et de plus en plus autoritaire. Clairement, là encore, deux visions s’affrontent: l’Europe des nations, l’Europe des coopérations, ou l’Europe de la Commission avec l’accélération vers le fédéralisme.

Nous sommes à cinq semaines des élections européennes. La construction européenne est évidemment à la croisée des chemins. Le continent européen détient en lui les capacités du sursaut et du renouveau pour assurer le rayonnement à nouveau de nos nations, collectivement, sur la scène mondiale. Mais il faut pour cela rompre avec les grands dogmes actuels de l’Union européenne et s’affranchir enfin de la logique technocratique. L’Europe protégera son économie ou elle deviendra le laquais des autres grandes puissances. L’Europe remettra les nations et les peuples au cœur de son projet ou elle se disloquera. L’Europe défendra ses racines, son identité et sa civilisation ou elle disparaîtra.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI). – Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Premier ministre, cher ancien collègue, vous nous entretenez de l’avenir de l’Union européenne. Disons les choses franchement, cet avenir sera bien sombre si l’on ne change pas radicalement de perspectives.

Au cours des 30 années que j’ai passées dans ce Parlement, j’ai vu se développer une dynamique de groupe perverse, prométhéenne, je devrais dire luciférienne, telle que la majorité de nos collègues se sont crus aptes à donner au monde entier des principes qu’ils proclament, mais qu’ils ne suivent pas à l’égard de leurs collègues de la minorité.

En outre, ils se persuadent qu’ils ont mandat pour gérer tous les aspects de la vie politique, économique, sociale, culturelle, sexuelle même, de 500 millions d’Européens. Ils croient participer à l’édification radieuse d’un super-État euromondialiste bourré de directives, surchargé de normes, de règles, de contraintes, mais ouvert à la concurrence de pays qui n’en ont aucune ou qui en ont très peu.

Monsieur le Premier ministre, vous dont le pays s’est libéré de l’oppression de l’Union des républiques socialistes soviétiques, ne cédez pas au mirage de la nouvelle Union soviétique mondialiste qui s’échafaude ici. Il faut radicalement changer de direction. Il faut fonder notre Europe sur les vraies valeurs de notre civilisation, sur l’accueil de la vie et non sur l’avortement massif, sur la famille et non sur la promotion systématique des minorités sexuelles, qui n’en demandent d’ailleurs pas tant.

Le brassage généralisé des hommes, des marchandises et des capitaux n’est pas forcément gage de prospérité ni de bonheur. Il faut organiser la coopération des nations libres par des programmes précis, chiffrés, dans des domaines concrets dont les citoyens pourraient mesurer et les coûts et les bénéfices. La révolte des peuples contre ceux qui veulent les contraindre, méprisent leurs identités particulières, bafouent leur volonté, est en marche. Ici même, nous avons fait tomber les murs des mensonges et de la désinformation qui empêchaient les patriotes de divers pays de communiquer entre eux. Sur cet univers feutré d’hypocrisie, les peuples commencent enfin à ouvrir les yeux. Nous avons semé, d’autres récolteront, qui savent que la liberté des nations est la condition du maintien de notre civilisation européenne. Vive l’alliance des peuples libres dans une Europe des nations renouvelée.

 
  
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  Presidente. – Sono stato flessibile per il primo giro di interventi, siccome il voto è previsto per le 12.30, e vorrei far parlare tutti coloro che hanno chiesto di partecipare al catch-the-eye, vi prego di rispettare i tempi a voi assegnati, perché altrimenti rischiamo di non far parlare qualche parlamentare.

Siccome questa è l'ultima sessione vorrei che tutti quanti uscissero dall'Aula soddisfatti, compreso il Primo ministro Kariņš.

 
  
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  Krišjānis Kariņš, Prime Minister of Latvia. – Mr President, if the first intervention was a little long, this intervention will be very brief.

There are two ways to deal with differences of opinion. The best way is the way that this House does it: we debate, we listen to one another, we respect one another, but then at the end of the day we vote and we move forward. There’s another way to do it – something that my country experienced for a very long time under the occupation of the Soviet Union. That is, you have no say, you have no right to express your opinion, there is no vote, someone else decides, and they push you out of the way as they’re moving forward.

It’s clear which is the best way. I am happy and willing to engage with anyone who believes that the way forward is to work with one another. This is the strength and the power of the EU. The fact that we have been able to maintain individual, sovereign, national countries with strong identities, distinct languages, unique cultures, independent and interrelated histories, and yet at the same time that we can work together, to open up the markets to trade, to find a way to pool our common resources into a single and strong and powerful voice in the world. The EU, for someone who does not know what the Soviet Union is, has nothing in common with the Soviet Union. Absolutely nothing.

(Applause)

This is a union of free will. Free will of participation by the Member States, free will of participation by the citizens, and we see that if citizens change their mind, no one is standing in the way. It truly is a free union. It’s a unique experiment in the world. The United States is a country based upon immigration. The original Americans are not a people who have tremendous rights in the United States. The people that we call Americans, generally speaking, have come from Europe, have come from Africa, have come from Asia, have come from everywhere, with the acceptance that they leave something behind and become something together. But in Europe, none of us has to go anywhere. We can maintain our languages and identities, yet come together on a political level and an economic level to further the interests of our own citizens.

So this is the way forward: we don’t have to give anything up. We can pool resources and be stronger as one individual. We’re much stronger as a collected unit.

(Applause)

 
  
 

Procedura “catch-the-eye”

 
  
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  Tunne Kelam (PPE). – Mr President, this is also my last speech in this Parliament. The Prime Minister mentioned Russian threats. Today, Prime Minister, I think we need seriously to ask ourselves what more can be done, and what has been neglected, to efficiently counter these threats? Parliament has insisted on assessing the crimes of Communist totalitarianism equally with Nazi crimes. But this is not an historic problem. It has been a burning, everyday political problem for the last 19 years. If the Soviet KGB had received equally with Hitler’s Gestapo the same international and binding verdict as a criminal, murderous organisation, there would have been no chance that a Soviet Gestapo officer could have risen to lead today’s Russia.

But it’s not only about one person. In fact the Soviet Gestapo in corpora has usurped power from the Russian people, establishing a Mafia state. This state can endure only thanks to the merger of Russian and European corruption. At least USD 1.3 trillion of stolen Russian money has been laundered by Western banks. If we move effectively to stop these flows, Mr Putin will cease to exist.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Presidente. – Voglio ringraziare l'onorevole Kelam che è stato per tanti anni un parlamentare esemplare. L'ho detto pubblicamente, per me è stato sempre un esempio da seguire. Ho grande stima e ammirazione per lui, per come ha combattuto per la libertà della sua patria, per la democrazia e per l'Europa. Lo ringrazio per il grande contributo che ha dato alla nostra Unione e a questo Parlamento.

 
  
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  Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D). – Mr President, Prime Minister, it is the very end of the mandate of this European Parliament, and it’s time to show respect to your powerful pro-European speech. It is time to show gratitude to this round of debates with heads of government and prime ministers within the European Parliament, and it is even time to salute the work of President Jean-Claude Juncker, who gave you a warm response of high quality. But I still have two points to raise having heard your statements.

First, you talked about not fighting populism, but the root causes of populism. It’s not incompatible. You have said it live. When you hear such demagoguery nonsense, simplistic nonsense, here live in this European Parliament, do we not have to fight back? Second, you talked about migration. Yes, we’ve got to strengthen the external borders of the European Union, but you didn’t say a word about solidarity, which is also a mandate of the Treaty of the European Union – solidarity among Member States when it comes to handling together with a common management both migration fluxes and asylum seekers.

 
  
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  Joachim Starbatty (ECR). – Herr Präsident! Jean-Claude Juncker hat gesagt: Man muss Europa lieben. In der Tat! Ich liebe Europa auch, aber gerade wenn man Europa liebt, muss man auch die Schwächen Europas sehen, der Europäischen Union. Ich habe in diesem Haus gehört: Wir wollen unsere Völker nicht auf dem Altar Europas opfern. Wie oft, Herr Dombrovskis, habe ich hier gehört: Wir müssen was für die Jugend tun. Die Perspektive der Jugend darf nicht sein, auszuwandern. Wir müssen etwas innerhalb der Länder schaffen.

Herr Premierminister, Sie haben davon gesprochen, dass wir nichtregulierte Märkte brauchen. Wir haben zwei zentrale Märkte, die völlig reguliert sind: die Wechselkurse und die Zinsen. Und wenn die Wechselkurse und die Zinsen fixiert sind, dann müssen andere Aktionsparameter die Kraft setzen, dann erfolgt die Anpassung über Arbeitsmärkte – der härteste Anpassungsmechanismus, den es gibt.

Ich wünsche mir für dieses Haus, dass in Zukunft nicht mehr gesagt wird: Wir dürfen unsere Völker nicht auf dem Altar Europas opfern. Wir müssen Arbeitskräfte in unserem eigenen Land beschaffen können. Und Fonds aufzulegen, löst das Problem nicht: Die Länder müssen selbst wettbewerbsfähig werden. Das ist ihre Aufgabe in der Zukunft.

 
  
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  Miroslavs Mitrofanovs (Verts/ALE). – Mr President, initially I was going to speak about brain drain as we – our country, Latvia, and other new EU members – are losing our young specialists, and what we can do at the EU level to stop this process.

But I must react to one part of the speech from our Prime Minister. Why? Because he asked Parliament and the European Union to follow the good example of integration in Latvia. I must say to you that it is not a story of success. It is a shameful story of the destruction of minority education. After the restoration of independence, the majority of minorities were supporting independence and the development of an independent country, but now we are living in depression because children from minority families will not have the possibility to receive education in their mother tongue. Please, colleagues, do not follow this example.

 
  
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  Krisztina Morvai (NI). – Tisztelt Elnök Úr! „Hazám, keresztény Európa. / Útálom és arcába vágom: / Száz év, de tán kétezer óta / őrült, mocskos, aljas világ ez, / ez a farizeus Európa! […] hazám, boldogtalan Európa, / ha túléled a harcok végét, elbírod-e még te az Istent, / a Szeretetet és a Békét?” Kedves Kollegák! Szabó Lőrinc magyar költő 1923-ban írta azt a verset, amelynek első és utolsó versszakával búcsúzom az Európai Parlamenttől. Isten óvja és vezesse hazámat, Magyarországot és a keresztény Európát! Isten áldja Önöket, viszontlátásra!

 
  
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  Milan Zver (PPE). – Gospod predsednik, spoštovani gospod predsednik latvijske vlade, jaz vas občudujem, pa ne zaradi tega, ker ste postal predsednik, ampak zaradi načina, kako ste postal predsednik – glede na to, da ste bil član zelo majhne, obrobne politične stranke, ste vendarle zbral izjemno pomembno večino, da lahko danes vodite latvijsko vlado učinkovito. Odgovor poznam, zato ker izžarevate zaupanje, verodostojnost, poštenost in pa zlasti kompetentnost. Ste zgodba o uspehu, tako kot vaša država, ki jo vodite.

Sedaj pa vprašanje za milijon evrov: živite v državi, tako kot jaz, Slovenija, ki je tudi tranzicijska, in vprašanje vladavine prava je vselej zelo pereče vprašanje. V moji državi je po veliki sodni farsi, ki se je imenovala Patria, izbruhnila še ena, ki se imenuje dr. Novič, glede na to, da je sodstvo obsodilo po krivici znanstvenika za umor.

Jaz verjamem, da tudi druge države, tranzicijske države, imajo probleme s pravosodjem, ampak vendarle vas sprašujem, ali menite, da bi Evropska unija morala posredovati v takih primerih z nekim ustreznim mehanizmom, ko se kršijo temeljne človekove pravice in svoboščine zlasti v tranzicijskih državah.

 
  
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  Pilar del Castillo Vera (PPE). – Mr President, it is a real pleasure to see this Prime Minister, who was an excellent colleague, but not only that. I must say, Krišjānis Kariņš, that you left a mark in this Parliament when you were coordinator, when you were in charge of so many different dossiers, and so on and so forth. But what is most important today is you left a vision of the European Union – about the past, the about the present, and most importantly about where we go and how we go. And in that path, in that way, you very rightly mentioned the role to be played by the common market – more specifically, the digital single market.

You mentioned the barriers that we have, and as we know, the main barrier is normally in the Council. The most reluctant institution in the European Union is not the Commission; it is not the Parliament: it is the Council, when it comes to the breaking of these barriers. Now you have a privileged position in the Council. You have a seat in the Council and you can be a strong voice for really going forward, moving forward and ending this barrier. Good luck!

(Applause)

 
  
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  Miapetra Kumpula-Natri (S&D). – Mr President, I had the honour to get to know Mr Kariņš, now Prime Minister, as a good colleague in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) working for the energy, digital and common Europe. I liked very much your statement on the beauty of the Single Market and really describe it, and I’m enthusiastic myself to work for that Europe, where we are brave enough to take advantage of the fact that we present – together and only together – more than 20% of the gross national product of the world. More than 20%, so please tell me from where comes these populistic ideas to close the inner borders or close the trade between the other parts of the continent? I do not see a single good reason showing how that would help Europeans.

But the beauty of the Single Market is also that we can be brave when we talk about climate change, because together we can steer the markets, which no country can do alone. And that is also the beauty for normal families – families with children, where there is a need for a car – that in the car markets there are new, cheaper cars available, not only with the belt but with lower emissions, and with the market of more than 20% of the Single Market, we can do it.

So I’m also looking forward to seeing Europe talk to its citizens. In the election we can talk to citizens, and I think also that everyone has to know that we work also for workers, who have the possibility to move across the border, and we have worked this mandate to create more fair trade markets and labour markets, also for European citizens.

 
  
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  Mark Demesmaeker (ECR). – Dank u, mijnheer Kariņš. Na uw sterke speech geloof ik meer dan ooit in de kracht van kleine, goed presterende democratische naties. Small is beautiful. Letland heeft na een lange dominantie door sterke buren het recht op zelfbeschikking uitgeoefend en heeft daar een geweldig succes van gemaakt.

Maar we zien tegelijk dat de Europese Unie vandaag maar moeilijk om kan met dat recht. Naties zoals Schotland en Catalonië streven op een democratische en geweldloze manier naar zelfbeschikking, maar dat streven wordt weggezet als verschrikkelijk gevaarlijk. Er komt geen veroordeling van het brutale geweld tegen kiezers in Catalonië, noch van de mateloze repressie van hun politieke leiders. Dat is ontluisterend. Want burgers zullen het EU-project alleen blijven steunen als ze zien dat hun fundamentele democratische rechten verzekerd en verdedigd worden. Vandaar mijn oproep, mijn vraag, mijn pleidooi om als klein land groot te zijn en niet mee te willen goed praten wat krom is. We rekenen op u.

 
  
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  Gunnar Hökmark (PPE). – Mr President, I would like to say that the development of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania belongs to the miracles of modern European history – the peaceful transformation, freedom. Thirty years ago I started in Sweden a campaign for supporting Baltic independence. We were in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. I remember I met with Sandra, Tunne and a lot of others fighting for independence in Soviet territory, and now a very good friend of mine, sitting here – you are nice as well, Mr Šadurskis – has, after having been a leading parliamentarian in this Parliament, become the leader of the free and independent Latvia.

This is a miracle, and in some way I would like to say to all colleagues here – because for me this is the last speech – that it couldn’t be better than to have you here, Krišjānis Kariņš. But I would also like to say, don’t we need the Coburns and the Farages as co—stewards, telling us the absurdity of not having European Union? Because what you have achieved and what you lined out as a vision of political change – not diving into institutional discussions, but how to change Europe – is manifesting the best we can do and they are representing the absurdity of not doing it.

You are the best of Europe: your country and our country, and as a Swede, we are proud of having you as a neighbour.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. – Thank you, Gunnar, for your work and for your engagement with this Parliament. Thank you very much.

 
  
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  Franc Bogovič (PPE). – Lep dober dan, spoštovani Kristijan, prav vesel sem, da te zopet vidim. Delila sva lepe trenutke kot kolega v Evropskem parlamentu in navdušen sem bil nad tvojim govorom. Tudi slovenski premier je imel priložnost, pa jo zavrnil, da bi danes nagovoril tu v Parlamentu, in zato hvala tebi za ta fantastični zaključni nagovor v tej epizodi, ko predsedniki vlad govorijo o prihodnosti Evrope.

Izhajaš iz države, ki ima težko zgodovino, tudi tvoja osebna je predstavljena kot zgodovina migrantskega otroka, zato me navdušuje ta pripadnost Evropski uniji, ideji skupnega trga, enotnega razvoja, skupni moči, na drugi strani pa svobodi in vsem, kar je bilo izrečeno. Podpiram to, kar je bilo rečeno, da je potrebno Evropo razvijati na vseh koncih, tudi v raziskavah, delovnih mestih, zato je moje vprašanje povezano z večletnim finančnim okvirom.

Ali je med predsedniki vlad, predvsem tisti, ki so neto plačniki, dovolj razumevanja, da je inštitut solidarnosti, ki ga izvajamo preko kmetijske in pa tudi kohezijske politike, vreden tega, da plačamo 1,3 % v proračun Evropske unije, in da bo to vezivo Evropske unije še naprej ohranilo Evropo povezano in jo naredilo uspešnejšo in lepšo? Hvala za odgovor.

 
  
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  José Blanco López (S&D). – Señor presidente, señor primer ministro, durante esta legislatura hemos sido capaces de trabajar juntos, y lo digo en esta mi última intervención en esta Cámara.

De trabajar juntos para hacer un mercado eléctrico más integrado, más competitivo y más descarbonizado, junto con la Comisión y el comisario Cañete. De trabajar juntos para tener una legislación que haga frente a los desafíos del cambio climático, que es la gran amenaza que tiene el planeta, consiguiendo una Directiva de eficiencia energética muy ambiciosa, porque sabemos que la energía que no se consume es la energía más limpia.

De trabajar juntos en la Directiva de energías renovables para tratar de que haya una mayor penetración, y por supuesto una mayor descarbonización, en sectores que contaminan mucho como el transporte, la refrigeración y la calefacción. De trabajar juntos para reducir las emisiones y, por lo tanto, para tener en la Unión Europea un marco global legislativo que nos hace ser los actores mundiales que primero tienen una regulación ambiciosa en la lucha contra el cambio climático.

Europa tiene futuro si hacemos frente a los grandes desafíos como lo hemos hecho en esta legislatura al desafío del cambio climático.

Muchas gracias, señor primer ministro, por su contribución.

 
  
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  Aleksejs Loskutovs (PPE). – Priekšsēdētāja kungs! Kolēģi, ministru prezidenta kungs! Šodien vairākas reizes izskanēja pierādījumi tam, ka Eiropas Parlaments ir īsta kadru kaltuve. Un jūsu piemērs ir tiešām iepriecinošs un pārliecinošs. Mums ar jums ir dažas kopīgas lietas, savulaik vadot Korupcijas novēršanas un apkarošanas biroju, un jūs strādājāt kā referents naudas atmazgāšanas jautājumos. Zinām, kas ir netīra nauda un kāda ir tās nozīme. Tā ne tikai nāk no noziegumiem, bet arī veicina noziegumu izdarīšanu, tiek izmantota terorisma finansēšanai, cilvēku kontrabandai, arī negodīgu amatpersonu uzpirkšanai. Un, ja man būtu dota tāda iespēja, nākamajā parlamentā es uzrunātu kolēģus un visu sabiedrību efektīvi vērsties gan pret naudas atmazgāšanu, turpinot jūsu iesākto, gan vērsties pret korupciju. Paldies!

 
  
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  Inese Vaidere (PPE). – Mr President, I’m very proud of our Prime Minister. Prime Minister, your speech was a brilliant programme for the future of Europe. You didn’t avoid even painful issues. Thank you very much for it.

Es esmu lepna arī par to, ka tev izdevās izveidot Latvijā valdību, ka tā saucamajiem jaunajiem spēkiem tas neizdevās, bet vecie pieredzējušie premjera kandidāti vienkārši nobijās no šī grūtā uzdevuma, un tev tas izdevās. Bet Latvijas valdībai stāv priekšā ļoti grūti uzdevumi. Samazināta Eiropas budžeta apstākļos kohēzijas politika, reģionālā politika — tas viss ir tas, par ko būs ļoti jācīnās.

Politika lauksaimniekiem. Mums tiešmaksājumi joprojām ir daudzreiz mazāki nekā citās valstīs, un tu to jau minēji.

Sabiedrības integrācija. Mēs šodien jau dzirdējām šeit, šajā zālē, kā Padomju Savienības rusifikācijas politikas turpinājums, ar ko mēs cīnāmies jau daudzus gadu desmitus, tiek vienkārši uzdots par minoritāšu problēmu Latvijā. Latvija ir vienīgā valsts, kur pagaidām vēl notiek mācības pilnā apjomā — nez kāpēc — trešās valsts valodā un valsts valoda tiek diskriminēta.

And finally, protection of the external borders. It’s a tough task for Latvia as well, but safe Europe is in all our interests. Thank you very much and good luck to you.

 
  
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  Victor Boştinaru (S&D). – Mr President, dear Prime Minister, I would like to thank you for your robust, pragmatic and consistent speech, and equally for your realistic and consistent assessments and contributions. I share many of your contributions. My country, Romania, and I see Russia like you and your country do. So, in this context, how does Latvia assess the building up of European defence, and what future relationship between European defence and NATO should we envisage?

 
  
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  Bendt Bendtsen (PPE). – Hr. formand! Kære statsminister, kære Krišjānis Kariņš, tusind tak for en stærk og en visionær tale her i Parlamentet i dag, også bemærkningerne omkring det indre marked.

Jeg vil gerne bede dig om at tage det med omkring frihandel også i Rådet. Også når europæiske interesser trues af det kommunistiske Kina.

Det, vi oplever i øjeblikket, er jo, at europæisk shippingindustri udsættes for unfair konkurrence. Vi har set COSCO og China Shipping fusionere. Vi ser, at de får massiv statsstøtte til at skrotte deres ældre skibe. Herefter bruger man det overskud, der er på kinesiske værfter, til at sælge billige skibe til et statsejet kinesisk selskab. Det betyder altså unfair konkurrence for europæisk shippingindustri, og de gør det med åben pande. De bryder WTO’s regler, og de siger direkte, at de vil overtage markedet, som i dag køres af private aktører i Europa uden statsstøtte. Vi må ikke være naive, og jeg håber, du vil bringe dette videre, og at Kommissionen også ser nærmere på denne sag.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE). – Mr President, let me congratulate the Prime Minister for one of the most inspiring speeches that we have heard here from Prime Ministers.

Senhor Presidente, gostaria de fazer uma pergunta sobre a política de coesão e os fundos de coesão. A Comissão apresentou uma proposta em que um país, como a Letónia, que fez tantos esforços e está tão abaixo da média do PIB europeu, perde 14 % dos fundos de coesão, Portugal perde 7 %, a Croácia também perde 5 %.

Será aceitável que os países mais pobres venham a perder fundos na política de coesão? Como é que o primeiro ministro Kariņš pensa tratar disto? Será que fará como o Governo português e o antigo ministro Pedro Marques, que estão muito contentes por a Comissão retirar a países que cumpriram todas as regras europeias e que são mais pobres do que a Espanha, do que a Itália, do que a Finlândia, e esses sobem a política de coesão e estes descem a política de coesão. Que medidas é que estes países podem e devem tomar frente à proposta da Comissão?

 
  
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  Andrejs Mamikins (S&D). – Paldies, priekšsēdētāja kungs! Premjerministr! Nu ko, dedzīga runa. Jūs parādījāt visiem šeit klātesošajiem arī savu mobilo telefonu un pasaku pastāstījāt par tēvu un trim dēliem, bet nepalīdzēja — zāle joprojām ir pustukša.

Jūs pateicāt par daudzveidību Eiropā. Bet vai atgādināt jums, kā Jūs nosaucāt savus šeit sēdošos kolēģus — tikai par to, ka viņi parakstījuši vēstuli Latvijas valdībai ar lūgumu saglabāt izglītību valsts vidusskolās minoritāšu valodās, — par muļķiem? Paldies, Kariņa kungs! Viens no muļķiem esmu es un daudzi desmiti sociāldemokrātu, kuri parakstījuši šo vēstuli.

Jūs teicāt par savu ziņojumu kopā ar kolēģi Sargentini. Labs ziņojums. Tiešām. Mums jācīnās pret netīro naudu, bet kāpēc Jūs nepateicāt par to afēru, kurā iesaistīta Jūsu sieva, — ar nekustamo īpašumu pārdošanu ofšorā, ar nezināmas izcelsmes naudu. Jūs teicāt, ka Jūs apmelojot prese. Presei tā mēdz gadīties. Bet vai tas ir labs piemērs? Kariņa kungs, ja gribat mainīt Eiropu, sāciet ar sevi! Atsakieties no ASV pilsonības, esat eiropietis! Paldies!

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Mr President, I would like to say to Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš that, for five years he sat here between myself and Gunnar Hökmark, where Carlos is now, and he was a great colleague.

Prime Minister, I want to remind you of one thing: when I came here ten years ago, I went to the canteen on the first day and I must have looked like a lost soul, because you and some of your colleagues invited me to share lunch with you. I haven’t forgotten that. It shows the decency of you, Krišjānis, a great friend. Thank you for standing by Ireland. We mentioned it again last night at our PPE meeting. It is much appreciated.

Just one question: I was delighted that you led by mentioning money laundering and criminality and how you cleaned up the whole murky business in your country. And then you said they would move from one country to another. What would you like us to do in the next parliament to try and move that forward, to reduce money laundering and criminality for the benefit of citizens?

Again, welcome. You were a great colleague, and long may you reign as Prime Minister of Latvia.

 
  
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  Ana Gomes (S&D). – Mr President, I would like to welcome Prime Minister Kariņš. Prime Minister Kariņš, I’m glad to see you here and I enjoyed working with you, namely in the team that negotiated the fourth and the fifth anti-money laundering directives. Like yourself, I’ve learned a lot, also on the basis of the inquiry committees of the European Parliament on these matters and on tax matters, and I do appreciate what you said and I support fully that we need European central supervision on anti-money laundering.

But let me ask you: will you now, as Prime Minister, also push for a European FIU, as we proposed in the Parliament in the context namely of the fifth anti money laundering directive? Also, will you push for the reform of the VAT that the Commission has proposed and that has been blocked by the Council, despite the fact that it is giving piles of money to organised crime, and even to terrorist organisations, through the scheme of so-called carousel fraud? And will you also push for the MQV in taxation matters, which is a crucial question according to the Commission, to indeed fight the tax dumping that distorts single market competition rules?

 
  
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  Brian Hayes (PPE). – Mr President, this is my last speech to Parliament, and I’m delighted that my good friend and colleague Prime Minister Kariņš is with us today. What he has set out today is a positive pragmatic agenda for the future of the European Union. The best way to counter populism and nationalism across all our Member States, whether it comes from the hard left or the hard right, is to ensure that we have prosperity in the European Union. The European Union is not just a peace project; it is also a project of economic and social progress. Your agenda, Prime Minister, today is clear: more trade, taking down the barriers that prevent the proper single market, standing up to protectionism, more open investment to the European Union, and proper competition. That is the agenda which ensures that we will have more jobs, more investment, more growth and more hope for the future of our citizens here in the European Union.

It has been an honour to serve with you. We stand by you and the pragmatism that you have brought to that great country of yours in the democracy, freedom and rule of law values that you spoke about so eloquently to this House this morning.

 
  
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  Henna Virkkunen (PPE). – Arvoisa puhemies, toisin kuin monet kollegani, itse toivon, että tämä ei olisi viimeinen puheenvuoroni Euroopan parlamentissa. Haluan lämpimästi kiittää pääministeri Kariņšia hänen energisestä ja positiivisesta puheestaan Euroopan tulevaisuudesta. Oli ilo työskennellä kanssanne täällä kaikki nämä vuodet teollisuusvaliokunnassa, ennen kuin teistä tuli pääministeri.

Kun lähdimme tälle kaudelle, päätavoitteemme oli saada Eurooppaan lisää työtä, yrityksiä ja investointeja. Voimme sanoa, että tässä olemme onnistuneet. Euroopassa on enemmän ihmisiä töissä kuin koskaan. Kasvuvauhti, samoin kuin investointien taso, on saatu talouskriisiä edeltäneelle tasolle. Mutta kansainvälinen kilpailu on kiristynyt, digitalisaatio muuttaa maailmaa. Mihin teidän mielestänne nyt jäsenvaltioiden ja Euroopan unionin on keskityttävä, jotta voimme vahvistaa taloutta ja kilpailukykyä myös seuraavina vuosina?

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D). – Gerbiamas Pirmininke, gerbiamas Ministre Pirmininke. Iš tikrųjų šiandieną noriu padėkoti už tą gerą kalbą ir už tai, kad palietėte ne tik Latvijos, aš manau, bet ir kitų dviejų Baltijos šalių, tai yra, Lietuvos ir Estijos, tokią karčią istorinę praeitį ir integravimą, mūsų kelią į Europos Sąjungą. Aš šiandieną nieko neklausiu, taip pat kaip ir nemažai mano kolegų. Šiandien yra mano paskutinė kalba Europos Parlamente. Aš tikrai paprasčiausiai noriu paprašyti ir toliau, gerbiamas Premjere, Europos Taryboje palaikykite realios Europos Sąjungos nepriklausomos energetinės rinkos sukūrimą. Antra, ko labai norėčiau paprašyti, tai yra ir toliau palaikykite projektą „Rail Baltic“, kuris yra strategiškai svarbus ne tik Baltijos šalims, bet ir visai Europos Sąjungai. Kartais sugrįžkite prie socialinio teisingumo klausimų. Taip pat labai teisingai buvo keltas tiesioginių žemės ūkio išmokų klausimas. Ir iš viso, sėkmės Jums, ateityje politikoje ir visuose kituose Jūsų asmeniniuose dalykuose.

 
  
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  Paul Rübig (PPE). – Herr Präsident! Ich möchte mich bei Krišjānis Kariņš sehr herzlich bedanken, weil er etwas ganz Substanzielles in seiner Rede erwähnt hat, nämlich den digitalen Binnenmarkt. Krišjānis, du hast völlig recht: Wenn wir nicht die Grenzen niederbrechen in Europa, insbesondere beim Roaming, dann wird es uns nie gelingen, diese Plattformen, die wir in Europa dringend aufbauen müssen, effizient aufzubauen. Wir brauchen die Möglichkeit, dass wir eine SIM-Karte in allen 28 Mitgliedstaaten kaufen können. Wir brauchen eine starke Entwicklung in diesem Bereich, denn das wird den Wettbewerb der Zukunft entscheiden. Insofern bedanke ich mich bei allen Kolleginnen und Kollegen, die gemeinsam für einen Binnenmarkt gekämpft haben, der die Zukunft unserer Jugend sichert.

 
  
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  Hannes Hanso (S&D). – Mr President, thank you for this fantastic opportunity. For many people here, it’s the last opportunity to speak in this forum. For me it’s the first and the last in one, as I’m a very new Member, only having joined about 10 days ago. So I can ask Mr President to make an exception for statistical purposes: perhaps, can you note down two interventions from me, my first and last in one? But thank you, Prime Minister, and labrīt, labdien.

I wanted to ask the same question as my Romanian colleague did about EU defence. So, let me ask you about your opinion of the EU—Russia relationship. Russia has violated international norms and rules by illegally occupying many of the neighbouring states: Georgia, parts of Ukraine, also Moldova. What are your opinions on this and how do you see this difficult relationship that we have with Russia – due to their own actions – developing in the future? Paldies.

 
  
 

(Fine della procedura “catch-the-eye”)

 
  
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  Krišjānis Kariņš, Prime Minister of Latvia. – Mr President, I took notes as everyone was speaking. I have lots of notes that I’ll be processing in the next while. The topics: security, energy, cohesion, agriculture, immigration, money laundering, social justice, China-EU, Russia, etc., etc. I think if I truly tried to answer them my second speech would even be longer than my first. You don’t get to the votes and then you really turn, so I won’t do that.

But what I do want to do is to say a couple of things.

First of all, as a former MEP, I want to thank each and every one of you for the opportunity, the pleasure and the honour that I had of working with you. The past almost 10 years, and also this past term, has been a tremendous time for me – even getting a little emotional it seems – but I really want to thank all of you for the great cooperation.

(Applause)

Many of you are saying that this is your last speech in Parliament, but for me, I can say this is my first speech in Parliament as Prime Minister. So I’m very pleased about that indeed.

To sum up on the debate.

Colleagues, the EU is not perfect. It’s not perfect, and when voters are telling us that something is wrong, we need to listen to the voters. We don’t need to say: no, everything is fine, you’re wrong. No, we need to listen to them because people have real concerns. Whether it’s about their jobs, whether it’s about immigration, whether it’s about the climate, whether it’s about security, these issues are real. But we also have real answers to these. We can work forward in the future as a Union of sovereign and independent nations, not giving up one square centimetre of our national identity or pride or languages, but pulling together to fight and to pull as one.

We are a Union of values: freedom, democracy and the rule of law. As a Latvian, I can say that we know what it means to live without freedom, to live without democracy and to live without the rule of law.

(Applause)

This is not something that anyone should ever need to experience.

We have a key way to unlock economic growth within the EU and this is the simple thing called the single market. What we need to do is to tear down the barriers of the single market within the EU, to create the environment so that our own companies, national companies, can grow to become European companies, can grow to be real, tough and successful players on the international stage. This is in our power.

(Applause)

We can address the tough issue of immigration by strengthening our outer borders. This has to be done, because when we strengthen the outer borders, we can keep the internal borders open and not hamper the single market. We can have a clever transition to clean energies, again the key is to make sure that market forces are at play. Let the market in, deregulate prices, green energy will take off, smart technological solutions will take off, consumers will participate, and the market will help us make this transition.

And regarding our common security, I see no contradiction between membership in NATO – my country is – and stronger EU security and defence cooperation.

(Applause)

We need to work as a union to strengthen ourselves as a member of the NATO alliance. There is no contradiction. But in terms of our security we need to go one step further than military security. This is security of our information, the information environment our citizens are living with, and as I said previously, I think it’s time to consider seriously legislation to look at the responsibility of social media platforms concerning the dissemination of false and misleading information which is a hamper to our democratic development.

(Applause)

Colleagues, we don’t need necessarily to fight the populists. The populists are being listened to because people are unhappy. We need to address the root causes, remind them that as a union we are stronger. Like the bundle of sticks. You take any one stick, you break it, break it, break it, like our little nations. All nations in Europe on the world stage are small, but united we’re like that bundle of sticks that cannot be broken, and we can take our way of life, our idea of free trade and push it on other markets, not have them push themselves onto us.

(Applause)

We have a great responsibility, which is to take the values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, with the single market and to move it forward. We do this in a peaceful way. We do it through debate. We do it in a way that includes citizens, and we move forward.

(Sustained applause)

 
  
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  Presidente. – Onorevoli colleghi, si conclude il dibattito. È l'ultimo dibattito con un Primo ministro capo di governo sul futuro dell'Europa.

Credo che sia stato molto importante per tutti quanti noi, come parlamentari europei, essere protagonisti di questa fase preparatoria, di questo confronto sul futuro dell'Europa. Porterò i risultati di questo lavoro di questi dibattiti al prossimo Consiglio europeo in Romania, il 9 maggio, e colgo l'occasione per ringraziare tutti i parlamentari che hanno partecipato a questi dibattiti, rendendoli vivaci, diversi dal solito. Credo che sia stata un'iniziativa positiva del Parlamento europeo. Abbiamo fatto vedere che il Parlamento è il cuore della democrazia.

Grazie ancora e buon lavoro a tutti e buona campagna elettorale e buona Pasqua.

Dichiarazioni scritte (articolo 162)

 
  
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  Indrek Tarand (Verts/ALE), kirjalikult.Premjerministra kungs, teie kõne lõppedes säutsusin: „Pean tunnistama, et Läti peaminister jätab väga hea mulje“. Palju parema, kui nii mõnegi muu suure või väikese riigi peaminister, kes meie parlamendi ees esinenud on. Võimalik, et see headus tuleneb Läti poliitilisest kultuurist, kus kehtib põhimõte „kaua tehtud, kaunikene“, mille kinnituseks on ka see aeg, mis kulus Lätis just nimelt Teie juhitud valitsuse moodustamiseni. Eestis on hästi teada Hando Runneli luulerida „ei saa me läbi Lätita ja Venemaa meelest ei lähe...“. Sellele saab tänasel päeval – ennekõike Teie kõnes avaldatud mõtetele tuginedes – lisada vaid üht: me peame iga päev meeles pidama ka ELi, kuhu mõlemad kuulume. Sest vaid ELi ja liikmesriikide koostöö aitab meil üle saada traumast, mida Venemaa Stalini ja ta järglaste poliitika kaudu meie rahvastele tekitas. Ning ainult tänu sellele võime hakata Venemaast mõtlema ka muul moel kui traumast. Vaid EL saab meid selles toetada. Aga me peame temast mõtlema ka selles võtmes, et Kremlil on õnnestunud üha enam tekitada liikmesriikides radikaliseeruvaid ELi vastaseid ning Eestis on need jõud ka osaks valitsuskoalitsioonist. Lätis neid veel pole, sest, nagu ma ütlesin, Teie kandis tehakse asju kauem, aga nad võivad ka Riias juuri ajada. Soovin Teile selget pilku ja kindlat meelt nende õigeaegsel äratundmisel ja ohjeldamisel. Elagu Läti, elagu Euroopa Liit!

 
  
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  Iuliu Winkler (PPE), írásban. – Az Európa jövőjéről szóló vita szerves része a Keleti Partnerség államaival való kapcsolatok elemzése. Ezek az országok közeledni akarnak az Európai Unióhoz, sajnos a nemes nyilatkozataikat nem mindig fedik a tettek. Figyelmeztetni kell szomszédjainkat, hogy az EU nem csak a gazdasági haszon, hanem az értékek uniója is. Az emberi méltóság tiszteletét, a törvények és szabályok betartását nemcsak hirdetni, hanem gyakorolni is kell. Április 6-án az ukrán hatóságok megtagadták Kelemen Hunor, az RMDSZ szövetségi elnöke, Románia Parlamentjének diplomata útlevéllel utazó képviselője belépését az országba, és semmilyen magyarázattal nem szolgáltak. Egyszerűen tudomására hozták, hogy nem léphet be Ukrajnába. Utólag, Ukrajna romániai nagykövete közölte, hogy a kijevi hatóságok már 2017-ben kitiltották Kelemen Hunort az országból.

Teszi mindezt az az Ukrajna, melynek állampolgárai vízummentesen utazhatnak az EU országaiba! Tűréshatárunkat túllépi az ukrán hatóságok cselekedete. Megalapozott a gyanú, hogy Kelemen Hunor amiatt kerülhetett tiltólistára, mert RMDSZ-elnökként határozottan fellépett minden alkalommal a kárpátaljai magyar közösséget ért jogtiprások ellen. Ezt fogjuk a jövőben is megtenni, mi mindannyian, RMDSZ-politikusok, amikor a kárpátaljai testvéreink jogait lábbal tiporja az ukrán állam. A kárpát-medencei magyar összefogás számunkra nem egy szlogen, hanem magyar nemzeti ügy. Határozottan követeljük, hogy legyen vége a magyarellenes „incidenseknek” Ukrajnában és mindenütt a Kárpát-medencében!

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: PAVEL TELIČKA
Vice-President

 
Letzte Aktualisierung: 9. Juli 2019Rechtlicher Hinweis