"Act decisively and quickly," European Parliament president Martin Schulz told EU heads of state and government at the opening of the June European Council in Brussels today. The president, attending the hour-long first session of the Council, called on EU governments to "take every feasible short-term measure to stimulate growth", while ensuring democratic legitimacy and a truly European dimension in all decisions.
"Plans for the day after tomorrow, however important they may be, should not distract us from the pressing challenges of today. We must act decisively and quickly," the president said, addressing the European Council on Thursday 28 June in Brussels. "Europe's fate hinges on our ability to come up with a convincing response to the debt crisis and set a course for growth," he pointed out, insisting that long-term strategies for a banking union, a fiscal union and a political union are vital but cannot substitute for urgent action to address the crisis in the here and now.
However, "political action needs the trust of the people, even more than the trust of the markets" and measures will not be truly effective if they are seen as lacking in democratic legitimacy.
For that reason, president Schulz reminded leaders, "constructive cooperation between the three main EU institutions", Parliament, the Commission and the Council representing governments, "will send out a message of hope to people in Europe". This could take the form an interinstitutional agreement and should include all measures to save the euro but also decisions related to the functioning of the passport-free Schengen area and the "so called master-plan for political union", from which Parliament has so far been excluded, a decision he called "unacceptable".
President Schulz concluded by calling on member states to ensure proper funding of the EU budget, "the most effective growth measure available to the Union". "EU funds are invested in precisely those areas where the member states are making cuts," the president reminded the leaders, adding that modern financing means that adequate resources for the EU need not represent an additional burden on member states.
Afterwards the president told the press that EU leaders realise that "they are in a rather serious situation and that it would be a good idea to start finding solutions".
He warned that although there is a vast debate about the future architecture of Europe, there is little "emotion, strength and energy" spent on for example reducing Italy's interest rates. "It's all a bit quiet on that front."