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 Full text 
Wednesday, 15 January 2020 - Strasbourg Provisional edition

European Parliament's position on the Conference on the Future of Europe (debate)

  Guy Verhofstadt (Renew). – Madam President, let’s give a common conclusion here. That is that, for the first time – nearly 20 years, I think, after the start of the Convention, the three institutions agree again on the necessity for an in-depth reform of the European Union. This is already an important fact because it is 20 years after the start of the previous Convention and, for the first time, these three institutions say, ‘OK, an in—depth reform of the Union is absolutely needed’. I will not contradict or have a debate with Mr Legutko because, in the meanwhile, he is no longer here in the plenary.

The reason why we want this Conference is because there are problems that we recognise in the European Union. When we have Brexit, a big country that is leaving the European Union, it’s difficult to say, ‘Oh, fantastic, we work well’. No, it’s a problem. We have a problem when a big country is leaving the Union and when, five years after the start of the migration crisis, we still don’t have a reform of the Dublin Regulation. We have a problem in the European Union when, ten years after the outbreak of the financial crisis, we still do not have a banking union in the European Union. We have a problem. And when Russians and Americans are deciding everything in our neighbourhood – in Syria and in Libya and in Ukraine – well, we have a problem. In fact, the reality is that, on the international stage, we are mocked by Putin, we are blackmailed by Erdoğan, we are bullied by Trump, and mostly we are ignored by the Chinese Government.

That’s the reason why we want to reform Europe; not because we say ‘we are Europeans and everything is going well’, and it’s over. No, tomorrow it will be a different world tomorrow, dominated by what I call empires, like China, like India, like Russia, like America. That doesn’t mean that we have to become an empire – on the contrary – but we want to defend a Europe in which our children and grandchildren can survive in this new world, which is not the case today.

We have to do it with a new method, not like in the Convention. In the Convention it went from the top down and at the top, with Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the top was something very impressive and present. We have to do exactly the opposite, not in contradiction, but from the bottom up – going up from the citizens so that we can create. After the generation of Monnet and Schuman and after the generation of Kohl and Mitterrand, we need a third movement, a third movement with, I would say, the vision of the first and with the courage of the second generation.


(The speaker agreed to take two blue-card questions under Rule 171(8))

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