Callanan at 2013 State of the Union debate
“Europe needs a new direction. And, that direction cannot be based on old ideas. Europe needs a new thinking.”
These are not my words Mr Barroso, they are your words, from the equivalent speech last year. The problem is that, yet again, you haven’t delivered on any of these big promises and grand rhetoric.
Your chance to deliver that new direction has passed. The question is whether your successor will be able to deliver the change the EU needs.
Next year, the commission will have a fresh leader, although I am not optimistic he or she will come with any fresh ideas.
Many of the applicants for this fine position are here today:
· Commissioner Reding, who is clearly running as the federalist candidate, producing more eye-grabbing babble every day.
· Commissioner Rehn could be delivering this speech – although if he did we’ll all be having a very late lunch!
· And if Commissioner Rehn does get the Liberal nomination then perhaps Guy Verhofstadt could challenge Martin Schulz for the socialist nomination? He’d feel more at home there.
In fact, I think I’m one of the few people here who doesn’t fancy your job President Barroso, I’m perfectly happy with the one I’ve got!
The problem is that none of these candidates represent new ideas. They represent vested interests. The people of the European District in Brussels not the people of Europe.
Next May the choice won’t be about anonymous candidates. It will be about whether you want to merely shuffle the deck of cards, or throw out the old deck and start afresh.
The essential flaw of the EU is that it does not trust in the capacity of people and markets to overcome problems. Problems can only be solved by Europe. If someone falls off a ladder, we need a new directive. People cannot be trusted to decide their own working hours or even whether to take up e-cigarettes to mention a topical subject.
When EU lawyers say the Financial Transactions Tax is illegal, that doesn’t matter because nothing – even the law – should stand in the way of European integration.
We need a new eurorealist direction with different ideas. One that says that patriotism is healthy. To be proudly German or French or Polish is not necessarily to be anti-European. The concepts are not antagonistic. And to want a new direction for Europe is not anti-EU.
The real anti-Europeans are those whose idea of change in the EU only means moving faster in the old failed direction.
The real nationalists are those who force us to accept a European nation that actually in reality nobody wants.
And you know what? We have tried the interventionist, centralising, socialist approach.
It may have been appropriate for the 1950’s – today its well past its sell-by date! Let’s try something different. Let’s try a new approach:
· Of rediscovering the principle of freedom that we fashioned for the world;
· Of opening our markets and embracing enterprise;
· Of eliminating the many vested interests in the Union
Next year’s election will offer an opportunity :
· not to advance European political parties and their candidates.
· But to give people a true choice.
· Not about who you want steering the tanker.
· But whether you want to change its direction.
Many of us want change. The people want change. Next May the people of Europe will be able to make a stand. They can say that they don’t just want a new President for the EU, they want a new direction for it.