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Debates
Wednesday, 18 January 2017 - Strasbourg Revised edition

9. Programme of activities of the Maltese Presidency (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  Syed Kamall, on behalf of the ECR Group . – Mr President, we stand here today at the start of a new year, at the start of a new Presidency of the Council, at the start of a new President of Parliament, and the ECR Group wishes both the new presidencies the very best. Let us hope that these presidencies will be the new start that the EU so badly needs: to face up to the challenges not just of the next six months, but of the next few years.

Presidencies so often judge their success on how many trilogues are completed, or how much new legislation is passed in their six months. But while more trilogue agreements can give the illusion of action, we have to ask with each new agreement whether the people we represent feel safer; whether the people we represent feel more prosperous; whether the people we represent feel more confident in us taking decisions on their behalf.

This must be a proud and historic moment in the history of Malta: a Maltese Prime Minister, a former Member of European Parliament, taking over the Presidency of the European Union, and you chose as your first priority to bring the EU closer to the people by encouraging vigorous debate on the key issues. But that closeness you desire will not be achieved by legislating every aspect of people’s lives or by being preoccupied with the intrigue and the politicking of the Brussels bubble, but by listening and acting on the big issues facing the EU and by doing less and doing it better – taking tough but fair decisions on migration and asylum, cooperating on security, offering protection against those who wish us harm, and solving the problems of the eurozone while facing the challenges and opportunities of Brexit. For while the process of Britain leaving the EU will begin on your watch, let us hope that this Presidency sees Brexit about more than just the intricacies of Article 50, but about creating the basis for a constructive and mutually beneficial relationship between the UK and the EU, a prosperous European Union trading and cooperating with a prosperous United Kingdom.

Let us hope that in addressing your specific issues of migration, security, the single market, social inclusion, the neighbourhood policy and the maritime sector, that the Maltese Presidency is able to draw a clear distinction between migration and asylum to ensure that the EU delivers a policy that is tough but fair, is able to strengthen security cooperation that makes our peoples feel protected and less vulnerable, to develop a single market that delivers less bureaucracy and more choice for consumers, to encourage social inclusion that learns from the very best projects in our local communities in each of our countries, and to develop a neighbourhood policy that does not mean a costly EU army, but the ability to take tough decisions on sanctions when they really matter, and also to encourage innovation and growth in the maritime sector to support increased open trade.

So, speaking as leader of what is still the third largest political group in the European Parliament, I urge you to throw away the template of previous presidencies and take the EU in a new direction. And if we can see real progress on your priorities over the next six months, then in years to come we will all look back at this Maltese Presidency as a true turning point in the history of the European Union.

 
Last updated: 15 March 2017Legal notice