Europe "was built on dreams and we have no right to throw those dreams away". In his final speech as European Parliament President in Strasbourg Thursday, Jerzy Buzek called on the Union to fight to overcome the crisis, because "to remain strong requires an everyday investment in our common Europe".
In his farewell address, he spoke of the great challenges the EU and EP faced during his two-and-a-half years at the helm, reminding everyone how unprepared the EU proved to be for the challenges it has been facing: "We have not prepared our Community for difficult and more challenging times. Arguments about self-interest began to erode our belief in the common good. And now, our Union has moved into a deep crisis whose causes are as much political and psychological, as economic". Responding to this tragedy, he said, became Parliament's highest priority.
An economy in crisis, a world evolving
The recent economic governance "six-pack" of budgetary surveillance measures was just one example of policies passed under his presidency, but that was just part of what the EP Parliament proposed and demanded, he said. "On your behalf, I have often stressed the need to complete the internal market and to boost growth and competitiveness." "Parliament called for more investment and for greater support for research, development, and green technologies", including a priority he himself worked hard for, the creation of "a genuine European Energy Community".
Turning to the international arena, Buzek mentioned Parliament's active part in what he termed the Union's role as a "lighthouse" of freedom and democracy. "When I spoke to protestors in Tahrir square in Cairo, and freedom fighters in Martyr Square in Tripoli, they told me, 'Thank you Europe'".
In Europe itself though, the changes are perhaps no less revolutionary. Turning to the citizens of Europe, President Buzek added a personal special plea: there is no contradiction between being a good citizen of one's own country and a good European citizen: "Europe allows you to discover the magic of the word 'and': being a good citizen of your town, region, country - and your continent", so "log in to our common European space, it is your Space".
Parliament itself has changed during this time with the introduction of the Lisbon Treaty that made it full co-legislator with the governments in the Council in virtually all matters. Of course "with power comes responsibility" and, as Buzek recalled, "we introduced our own Code of Conduct for Members which was applauded for its clarity and strength".
"The loss of a sense of meaning"
"Our real problem is the lack of mutual trust and the loss of a sense of meaning." At a time where no "country is an island", he said, he "who stays outside cannot expect to be a main player". He went on to express the hope that the frictions resulting from recent talk of an intergovernmental method of doing business ultimately "will lead to more, not less, use of the Lisbon Treaty and the Community method".
More than that, he called for "a new wave of political integration...a new wave of economic integration...a real economic and fiscal union" in a genuine spirit of cooperation, a true New Deal for Europe, in which "those who think of profit must also think of values. Those who gain wealth must be responsible. Those who are concerned about their prosperity must be concerned about equality, and those who believe in competition must come to believe in justice".
"As the President of the European Parliament I served you and Europe's citizens. The European Union is incredible value, one worth working for and living in. But it is a value that can be created and used only if we are united," he said. "It is this very Europe that I will always serve with energy and determination."
President Buzek formally steps down on January 17, 2012.