Speech by Professor Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, to the informal meeting of Heads of State or Government
Dear Prime Ministers,
I would like to first congratulate you all on the excellent result we had in Strasbourg on Tuesday! They were your Commissioners designate, and it was also your success! José Manuel, we are looking forward to working with you and your new team.
Dear President Van Rompuy,
I would like to congratulate you for the setting. Meeting in this library we are continuing a great tradition.
The Solvay Conferences, which began in 1911, reunited the best minds of the 20th century - Einstein, Bohr, Curie-Sklodowska. If I may say so, we are in good company!
I hope their bright spirits will help us today to find the right answers. In this room the discussions were once about electrons and photons and concrete science. Today we are here to discuss concrete projects for the European Union.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We face an important moment which will have a crucial impact on our relationship. Let me mention it now. I am speaking about the SWIFT Agreement.
It is very important that outside of Europe we speak with one voice. We should elaborate a common solution approved by both Houses - the European Parliament is ready for this.
First of all, we are defending the civil rights of our citizens, and we are aware of the importance of this agreement.
We asked for cooperation since November of last year. At the end, not enough time was given to us. This is one of my hard truths for today; we all must draw conclusions from this fact.
Now and in the future it will be a much worse solution for us if bilateral agreements were to replace a common EU approach. Please remember this.
We may be coming out of the economic crisis, but we are faced with excessive deficits. The stability of the eurozone, every separate country in it, is important, but it is also important for those who wish to join the eurozone in the future. We have to show solidarity.
We are discussing the new Europe 2020 strategy, the long term economic plan. We need to remind ourselves of certain hard truths and then to give the right answers and good projects.
The first hard truth is that we will only see one per cent growth across the Union this year. We need to double this figure just to keep up with the rest of the world!
This means we need to continue with our economic reforms.
The business community is looking to us to propose concrete legislation. They want us to adopt a single company statute. They want us to open up the digital economy. They want us to close the gaps in the single market.
We need concrete proposals from the Commission that will help cut costs, improve investments, and promote growth. This must be the primary objective of the 2020 Strategy.
Its second main objective is job creation. The chapter on employment and the social dimension needs to be stronger. We believe in solidarity. This is what makes us Europeans. This is what makes a difference.
In this European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, we must find ways of stimulating jobs. Jobs are the key to combating poverty and social exclusion
It is not only the jobs of the past we wish to defend. It is the jobs of the future we also wish to generate! So, we need to invest in education, in new technology and in human capital. If we do this we can improve our human capital, and skills, and promote innovations.
These challenges should be reflected in the EU multi-annual financial framework after 2013. We are starting to look at this in 2010: it means we are starting to negotiate on an investment in our common future.
Let us be realistic. This Europe 2020 strategy will have to operate on limited budgetary means and should not be at the expenses of other policies that have proven to be successful.
I have in mind cohesion policy which has allowed many regions to catch up and an agriculture policy that must continue to be modernized.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have to discuss the 2020 strategy. But this time we have to get it right! We cannot in ten years agree that our 2020 strategy failled and we need a new 2030 strategy!
As was the case with the 1992 Single Market project, we need a clear sense of direction. In short, we need a plan. A project which can mobilise our ambitions and resources - and one focussed on achieving our goals.
Why did we meet the 1992 objective? Because we created a detailed legislative programme of necessary directives and regulations required to complete the Single Market.
The second hard truth is that compared to this successful common approach the method of open coordination has failed. I therefore believe that instead we should use the method that has worked.
I have always argued for the "Community Method". Even when I was Prime Minister and Poland was a candidat country. I still believe in it because it benefits us all. The 2020 Strategy has to be as concrete, as targeted and binding as the 1992 project.
Let me give you one example of a target I am convinced we need to implement as part of our 2020 strategy for Europe.
In the field of energy, and also for the fight against climate change, I believe we should discuss creating a 'European Energy Community'.... a new EEC.
I mentioned this idea during my first speech as President of the European Parliament in September last year, and I raised it at our last meeting.
Perhaps as with Euratom? it could be part of our Union but still existing alongside it as a separate Community? Or perhaps through reinforced cooperation? But I believe we need to go beyond the Lisbon Treaty articles on energy solidarity.
We need to continue with diversification of energy. We should invest more in domestic sources, in renewables such as wind and solar power.
We still need the old technology of nuclear power, but the future is in new solutions such as the second generation of cleaner fossil fuels.
I am convinced we need joint purchasing of oil and gas. It will help us to reduce the costs of energy, which influences all the other costs, but it will also create greater energy security.
Such a European Energy Community will give us new money for investment. We will be able to invest in the grids we require. To invest in the infrastructure we need to complete the internal energy market, as well as in research and development.
Sixty years ago Robert Schuman called for a pooling of sovereignty in the energy of the 20th century. Let us be bold on this anniversary year. Let us call for a pooling of sovereignty in the energy of the 21st century.
Climate change is 80% about energy, and we have to create the political climate for the necessary decisions we need.
We should face the third hard truth. We have missed out on part of the technological revolution of the 20th century. Today we have the chance to create the green equivalents of Yahoo, Google, and Intel. As we have created world leaders in the telecoms sector with Nokia, Ericsson, and Siemens.
We have the know-how and the technology to be at the forefront of the green economic revolution. To answer both energy and climate change threats and to make business out of it!
We still have a short window of opportunity. A very short window, because, for example, China already overtook us in some areas of renewable energy.
If we fail we will still be talking about the electric car while Tata industries will mass produce an electric car.
We have to work together to take all the necessary decisions we need to reinforce Europe's economic performance, otherwise we will also lose that bigger battle, that against climate change, which affects not only Europe but also the rest of the world.
Dear Presidents, Dear Prime Ministers,
I have one last - urgent topic to discuss. The tragedy which has hit Haiti was a test of Europe's capacity to respond, and be a real player on the world stage.
And we did it! The aid packages and the money that we have allocated, and our citizens have raised for Haiti shows how deeply committed we are to the value of solidarity.
Europe was present but was Europe effective? My last hard truth is that we need to think of how to better manage such a crisis in the future. Our problem was one of coordination, of overlap and of logistics. It is not about VIP's but boots on the ground.
The European Parliament has proposed a solution in its resolution this week, calling for the creation of a genuine, independent, permanent European Civil Protection Force.
This force could also be used when disasters strike closer to home. Let us all remember the mud slides in Catania. Let us think about the earthquakes in Greece, in Aquila, and the fires in the Mediterranean.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me paraphrase Mark Twain's famous saying: 'Reports of Europe's death are greatly exaggerated'. Europe is strong and with Lisbon we can be stronger still.
We have shown solidarity among ourselves in fighting this global financial crisis. We show solidarity with each other with energy security. With the fight against climate change. We show it by building a Europe where we can all live in prosperity. We also show solidarity to the outside world by acting as Europeans. Together!
I hope that this Bibliotheque Solvay, with its great history, will inspire us to take the right decisions for the Europe we believe in.