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François Hollande and Angela Merkel face MEPs

Plenary Session Press release - Institutions07-10-2015 - 15:00
 
Video streaming of the meeting

The current situation in the European Union and challenges to be tackled together, and notably migration, were at the heart of Wednesday afternoon's debate between European Parliament political group leaders, President of the French Republic François Hollande and Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel.


The visit by François Hollande and Angela Merkel was "a symbol of Franco-German reconciliation and European unity", said Parliament’s President Martin Schulz.


Since their predecessors François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl addressed the European Parliament in 1989, "you are the first heads of state and government to take the floor together, to address Europe's unprecedented challenges before the representatives of European peoples”, he noted.


“When Franco-German cooperation does not work well, the whole of Europe suffers. If, in crises, France and Germany come to a good compromise, it is beneficial for all partners and the whole of the EU”, added Mr Schulz.


President of the French Republic François Hollande


Against the temptation for EU countries "to retreat into their national shells", which condemns Europe to "powerlessness", Mr Hollande advocated an "outgoing Europe", able to "reaffirm the simple and clear principles of solidarity, responsibility and firmness". Firmness in the face of the "brutal violation of international law" in Ukraine. And responsibility against terrorism, "which threatens the soul of our continent". Mr Hollande also defended the principle of solidarity with refugees.


"Faced with these challenges, I am convinced that if we do not move ahead with integration, we shall stop or slip back", said Mr Hollande. He therefore proposed "consolidating the Euro area" in order to "coordinate policies, promote fiscal convergence and harmonisation, investment, and tax and social policy", adding that "Institutional choices will be necessary".


Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel

"The huge number of refugees is a test of historic proportions. And to allow these people a dignified life in their homelands, is a European and a global challenge" , said Ms Merkel.


"We must now resist the temptation to fall back into national government action. Right now we need more Europe! Germany and France are ready. Only together will we in Europe succeed in reducing the global causes of flight and expulsion.  We can protect our external borders successfully only if we do something to deal with the many crises in our neighborhood - Turkey plays a key role", said Ms Merkel, adding that  "EU-wide return programmes are also important. The Dublin process, in its current form, is obsolete".


EPP Group President Manfred Weber (DE)


Mr Weber said: "Twenty-five years ago your predecessors declared here, before the European Parliament, that your two nations stood for a democratic Europe. Today, you have renewed this declaration with your presence. This is a declaration of German-French friendship, of the responsibility your two nations bear and of the prospects for the future, a declaration that France and Germany will continue to see their future in a democratic Europe  in the decades to come.


If Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and some poor countries are able to offer shelter to millions of people who are fleeing civil war then we wealthy Europeans must also be able to make this great effort and we need courage for this task that we face.


You must have the courage to move on with the development of Europe. The world will not wait on our internal debates. This is why Europe must move forward with commitment".


S&D Group President Gianni Pittella (IT)


"History tells us that, in the past, the Franco-German engine has served Europe because it had a vision for Europe: the idea that through reconciliation between peoples divided by centuries of wars, the basis for political integration would be laid down. But today we need a new beginning, a new vision, a new political project that gives meaning to the Union and which has protagonists in all member states", said Mr Pittella.


"We must fight for greater fiscal justice because it is unacceptable that while European citizens are asked sacrifices, tax evasion and tax fraud circumvent the public finances to the value of 1,000 billion euro each year. Taxes have to be paid where profits are made," he added.


ECR Group Vice-President Antoni Legutko (PL)


Speaking for the European Conservatives and Reformists, Antoni Legutko (PL), blamed the "Franco-German engine of Europe" for "confusing leadership and dominance". "Don't you think that it is part of the problem that one or two countries decide for the rest?", he asked.


He criticised the President and Chancellor for "deafening federalist rhetoric, not rooted in reality", which showed "ruthless powerplay, with President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel as key players, more powerful than those that hold formal positions higher in the political hierarchy", who disregard "elementary rules of cooperation".


ALDE Group President Guy Verhofstadt (BE)


"Let's face up to reality. This multiple crisis puts the very existence of the European project in danger. What if tomorrow the Euro disappears? Or if Schengen falls apart? Then we are left with what? With nothing more than a loose confederation of nation states. Weak economically, insignificant on the world stage. Let's not be naive. It will be the Americans and the Chinese that dictate our economic standards. It will be Assad and Putin who decide on peace and stability in Europe", said Mr Verhofstadt.


GUE/NGL President Gabriele Zimmer (DE)


"Perhaps the two of you want to conjure up the old axis again. But the German-French engine is stalling. What now, Ms Merkel and Mr Hollande? Your speeches were supposed to inspire. You raised a number of important issues but your speeches lacked any prospect of more democracy or of a social union within the European Union. That is a massive failing. Please, rise to the challenge!", urged Ms Zimmer.


Greens President Rebecca Harms (DE)


"We have a long list of crises going on and we will never get anywhere if we don't finish what we have started. We need to return to the stability of the Euro. Without a government for the common currency, we will never get anywhere. You two are the right ones to do this work", said Ms Harms.


"We must rethink our refugee policy. But it cannot only be about militarising our outer borders. It is good to cooperate with Erdogan, but wrong if we don't also tell him that his escalation against the Kurds makes the situation worse", she added.


EFDD President Nigel Farage (UK)


"When Kohl and Mitterrand came here representing their countries, it was a partnership of equals. But no longer. France is now diminished, trapped inside a currency. It is an irony that a project designed to contain German power has now given us a totally German dominated Europe", said Mr Farage for the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group.


ENF President Marine Le Pen (FR)


"Thank you Ms Merkel for doing us the honour of coming here with Mr Vice-Chancellor of France Province", said Marine le Pen (FR) for the Europe of Nations and Freedoms Group. "I cannot call you 'President', because you no more exercise your role than your predecessor did', she added to Mr Hollande, before continuing "The President of the Republic is the guarantor of the French Constitution. He must not submit to a policy decided in Berlin, Brussels or Washington, but defend our sovereignty. Yet this is not what you do. On the contrary, when, in a perfectly irresponsible gesture, Chancellor Merkel says that we must welcome thousands of migrants, you applaud with both hands. When a little later, she closes her frontiers, you're still applauding".


Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel


In conclusion, Ms Merkel pointed out that the essence of compromise lay at the basis of every European agreement, but all 28 member states had to take part. She added that the Heads of State or Government also represented the national states and parliaments and that contact with the national parliaments was important. "Without this coming together, Europe cannot advance".


Finally, the Chancellor stressed that Europe could boast many successes, such as the preparation of the climate conference. "A good climate conference is also a way of helping prevent refugee crises".


President of the French Republic François Hollande

"If we are here, the Chancellor and I, its is because there were two wars in the last century between Germany and France. And it was Germany and France, in the wake of this tragedy, which wanted to enable Europe to build itself. That is why our two countries have always wanted to initiate new European constructions", said Mr Hollande. As to the future of Europe, there are several paths. One is "half-in, half-out", which is not easy to direct. Or that of strengthening, on which we wish to work with you. We shall need a Europe that is much stronger than today's. The first responsibility is common policy on defence, asylum and migration (...). If we do not wish to strengthen Europe, then we should leave it, he concluded for the benefit of certain Members.













REF. : 20150929IPR94921
Updated: ( 12-10-2015 - 12:04)
 
 
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