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Debates
Wednesday, 14 December 2016 - Strasbourg Revised edition

7. Preparation of the European Council meeting of 15 December 2016 (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  Syed Kamall, on behalf of the ECR Group . – Mr President, since 2010 we have had 45 summits – each one an opportunity to take the EU in a new direction. But how many times have we discussed the issues on this week’s agenda: migration, security, economy and youth unemployment? How many more times until we actually solve them? Almost every summit seems to produce more of the same: words and declarations to keep the control set to auto-pilot whilst struggling to tackle both the internal and external challenges. The challenges of building the right environment for companies to create jobs. The challenge of keeping our citizens safe and secure. The challenge of sustaining living standards we have come to take for granted. But how? Imagine you are a young person living in Spain or Greece with youth unemployment at over 40%. You want the opportunity to get a job, or at least an apprenticeship. You need the right economic conditions to allow businesses to create jobs for which you can apply. You dream of being able to build a better future for yourself, for your family and for your community. But what do we in this House offer? Yes, we talk about the EU Youth Guarantee scheme that Gianni Pittella just spoke about. But here, in the European Parliament, our proposed solution to all this is a free Interrail Pass. A great opportunity for middle—class kids who could afford it anyway, but not exactly the solution you are desperate for if you are struggling – like many of your neighbours – to find a job. Is it any wonder that people are angry with us, angry at how out of touch we have become? Should we then be surprised when they turn away from the mainstream political parties?

The ECR Group, made up of MEPs from 18 countries, wants to show that we understand people’s legitimate concerns. That we can work together, within the EU and with western allies. That we can offer the EU a new direction. It has happened before. The EU has begun to change direction on the migration and refugee crisis. We have finally started to recognise the importance of distinguishing between genuine refugees fleeing war and persecution and economic migrants who are bypassing the legal migration channels. And when the EU eventually moved towards an approach that the ECR and others have been calling for, what did we see? A crisis that is far from over, but which has become more manageable.

So why don’t we try a new direction in a few more areas? On security, instead of thinking that we have all the solutions in Brussels or in Strasbourg, how about learning from what works in our local communities? Learning from anti-radicalisation projects in London, Aarhus or Mechelen. Learning from local jobs clubs and projects helping the long-term unemployed into work. Learning from local projects that help refugees to integrate into their new surroundings in many towns and cities. And how about learning from what works in some of our countries? What about asking security agencies how we can improve their confidence in their counterparts in other countries, with whom they may be reluctant to share their hard gathered intelligence? How about creating jobs by cutting bureaucracy and liberalising employment laws? How about learning about integration from countries that have welcomed newcomers for centuries?

Inside this building, the talk is of the intrigue of who will be the next President of the European Parliament. But step outside this building, and our voters will not be interested in that. They will be worrying about their jobs, their future and their ability to pay their bills. So in those few hours of the working lunch and the working session at this week’s Leaders’ Summit, let us hope that our leaders finally start to listen to the many alarms that have gone off in 2016. Let us hope that our leaders address the legitimate concerns of our voters, and let us hope that our leaders chart a new course and set sail for a new direction.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 162(8))

 
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