Kamall: The EU summit was marked by gridlock, and inaction has consequences
This morning, the European Parliament debated the outcome of last week’s EU summit with European Council President Tusk and European Commission President Juncker. Speaking in the debate, European Conservatives and Reformists group leader Syed Kamall, warned that the summit risked showing an EU gridlocked on key issues such as dealing with Russia and on trade, with the derailing of the CETA trade deal.
“If ever there was a theme of a summit meeting, then surely the theme of this one was gridlock.
Powerless to move or commit to decisions on some of the key issues facing the West and the EU right now, at a time when voters in all EU countries are asking questions of their political leaders.
The EU has been defined in the last week by weakness and indecision.
We should ask ourselves, why it is so difficult to unite on these key issues?
Why does a trade agreement like CETA fail at the last hurdle?
The ECR is asking if the EU cannot even reach an agreement with a country such as Canada – a country with similar environmental and labour standards – what hope do we have for telling the rest of the world that the EU is open for business?
And why could the 28 leaders not make progress? Because there is a fundamental disconnect between EU leaders and the people they represent.
With greater centralisation, individuals and communities feel weaker.
Here we use the language of compromise, coalitions, and semesters, but people outside want to know:
– will they have more money in their pay packet?
– will they be able to pay their bills?
– will the business they work for grow and create jobs?
And too often these simple questions go unanswered.
If leaders fail to address these concerns, fail to listen to the warnings, fail to make the case for decisions taken, then don’t be surprised if voters in many of our countries turn to extremist parties offering simplistic solutions.
I realise our countries have different histories and perhaps different interests when dealing with Russia. But responding to Russia’s current actions is something which should unite us, rather than divide us.
When we see continued violations by Russia in Ukraine and Georgia, when we see the bombing of Aleppo and its people, when we see Russia biting at the heels of the EU’s external border, the whole West should be uniting together in wanting to use what power we have.
The EU only has soft power. But surely soft power should be better than no power.
Economic sanctions are beginning to have an effect on Russia – but not nearly enough. Yet even at this point, Leaders could not agree to go further.
And now we even see one EU country – Spain – offering to refuel that same Russian fleet that is likely to inflict more atrocities on the civilians of Aleppo. What kind of signal does that send about our resolve?
At this rate we are facing a future of lowest common denominator politics.
We needed a summit of action, a summit of clarity, a summit of decisiveness.
And yet again, this is not what we got.
It is time to open our eyes and see what is happening around us.
Just as each action has its consequences, inaction also has consequences. Prime Minister Trudeau walking away from a Canada-EU trade deal which would have helped create jobs and growth. Putin walking into other countries unchecked and uninhibited.
If this is the result of our inaction, don’t be surprised if the electorate punishes us for it.
To counter the simple message of extremism, to regain the confidence of the people who vote for us, we need solutions, we need action, and we need a new direction, to break the gridlock that we currently face.”