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Callanan: President Hollande has shown Europe its future if it reverts to socialism

5 February 2013

Callanan: President Hollande has shown Europe its future if it reverts to socialism

Speaking in a keynote debate with French President Francois Hollande this morning, European Conservatives and Reformists group leader Martin Callanan MEP thanked the socialist leader for showing the rest of Europe the future it could have if it follows him down the road of greater centralisation, higher taxes and rigid labour markets

Speaking in a keynote debate with French President Francois Hollande this morning, European Conservatives and Reformists group leader Martin Callanan MEP thanked the socialist leader for showing the rest of Europe the future it could have if it follows him down the road of greater centralisation, higher taxes and rigid labour markets.

Mr Callanan said that socialism was causing capital flight and falling confidence. Instead of using the EU Single Market as a tool for harmonising down to the lowest common denominator, it should be used for encouraging competition that makes all of Europe stronger in the global economy, he said.

Callanan also paid tribute to French and other forces for their operation in Mali and he told the French President that if he was a true ‘pro-European’ he would allow the EU’s Treaties to be changed so that MEPs no longer have to make the monthly trek to Strasbourg.

Speaking in the debate, he said (full speech below):
“May I start by paying tribute to you and your brave armed forces for the current operation in Mali. Your troops, aided by British and other Member States forces, are risking their lives to protect us, and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. I hope that this whole Chamber will unite in paying tribute to them.

“Mr President, thank you for agreeing to hold a debate here in Strasbourg today which is a beautiful and welcoming city. One that should be visited by everyone at least once. But maybe not once every month. You label yourself a pro-European. But if you truly were then you would allow the Treaties to be changed so that this Parliament can decide where and when it sits.

“I want to convey a simple message: Thank you! Thank you for brilliantly demonstrating to the rest of Europe what a Socialist government looks like in practice. One that gets elected on an ‘end to austerity’ and is then mugged by economic reality into introducing harsh budget cuts.

“When the Socialists left power in my country, they left a note in our country’s Treasury saying, “I’m afraid there is no money left”. Last week your Labour Minister admitted that France is bankrupt. Let’s be clear, things aren’t in great shape in other countries either, but since you have come to power, we have seen how devastating socialism can be, even to a country as well-placed and talented as France.

“Mr President, you have shown us our Socialist future: if we increase taxes to 75 percent; if we lower the retirement age to 60; and if we have a 35 hour working week. Electorally attractive, of course, but devastating for our international competitiveness.

“Ronald Reagan used to have a great saying: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And when it stops moving, subsidize it.” Reagan of course meant it as a joke but, many Socialists seem to see it as some sort of a manifesto.

“If Europe is to thrive then we need to chart a new direction. For Socialists, the ‘Single Market’ means harmonised labour rules, harmonised taxes, and harmonised economic policies. For me, ‘Single Market’ means a free forum where we all compete with each other, and in turn we all become more competitive in the international market.

“It’s time to make the EU about competition once again.

“Mr President, I want to see a strong France helping to move Europe in a new direction, so far the first few months of your Presidency have shown that Socialism will deliver neither.”

ENDS

Notes: full speech below – Group leaders spoke in two rounds:

Mr President, may I start by paying tribute to you and your brave armed forces for the current operation in Mali. Your troops, aided by British and other Member States forces, are risking their lives to protect us, and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. I hope that this whole Chamber will unite in paying tribute to them.

Mr President, thank you for agreeing to hold a debate here in Strasbourg today which is a beautiful and welcoming city. One that should be visited by everyone at least once. But maybe not once every month.

You label yourself a pro-European. But if you truly were then you would allow the Treaties to be changed so that this Parliament can decide where and when it sits.

A large majority of members from many different nationalities in all Political groups, including even some French members, are in favour of this reform. (Unlike some of their Group Leaders!).

But Mr President, I don’t want to focus purely on Strasbourg today. Instead, I want to convey a simple message: Thank you! Thank you for brilliantly demonstrating to the rest of Europe what a Socialist government looks like in practice. One that gets elected on an ‘end to austerity’ and is then mugged by economic reality into introducing harsh budget cuts.

I hope the British Labour Party and the other Socialist parties across Europe campaigning on similar themes are watching very closely indeed.

Now when the Socialists left power in my country, they left a note in our country’s Treasury saying, “I’m afraid there is no money left”. Last week your Labour Minister admitted that France is bankrupt.

Let’s be clear, things aren’t in great shape in other countries either, but since you have come to power, we have seen how devastating socialism can be, even to a country as well-placed and talented as France.

When we look back at the start of this crisis, it was socialist governments – in Spain, in Britain, in Portugal, in Greece – that maxxed out the national credit cards; and it is Conservative and centre-right parties that are trying to clean up the mess.

Mr President, you have shown us our Socialist future;
Electorally attractive, of course, but devastating for our international competitiveness.

  • if we increase taxes to 75 percent,
  • if we lower the retirement age to 60, and
  • if we have a 35 hour working week.

Ronald Reagan used to have a great saying: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And when it stops moving, subsidize it.” Reagan of course meant it as a joke but, many Socialists seem to see it as some sort of a manifesto.

If Europe is to thrive then we need to chart a new direction. For Socialists, the ‘Single Market’ means harmonised labour rules, harmonised taxes, and harmonised economic policies.

For me, ‘Single Market’ means a free forum where we all compete with each other, and in turn we all become more competitive in the international market.

I raise this point because many in this House keep suggesting to me that David Cameron was asking for an unfair competitive advantage when he gave his speech two weeks ago. But this simply isn’t the case. He wants reform for all of Europe – a Single Marketplace
yet still be integral members of the Single Market. It’s time to make the EU about competition once again.

  • where one country can have lower taxes – such as in Ireland,
  • more flexible labour rules – such as in the UK,
  • or industry-friendly policies – such as in Germany or new Member States,

Mr President, your Foreign Minister said that this approach was like joining a football club and wanting to play rugby.

Now Mr Fabius has been right before when he led the French No campaign against the European Constitution, and I think he’s right again. In fact I don’t think he realised quite what a good analogy that was.

Because on a football pitch is exactly where the game of rugby was said to be invented. No doubt at the time the person who picked up that ball and ran with it was derided and shouted at by his fellow players.

But of course we now know that he invented a game followed by millions, although I suspect its popularity is waning a bit in France after Sunday’s result!

Personally, I prefer football. In fact, I’m a fan of Newcastle United and we’ve just signed 5 new French players last month. I don’t know whether your new 75% tax rate had anything to do with their enthusiasm to leave France and join Newcastle but, if it did, can I say on behalf of all Toon fans- Merci Beaucoup Monsieur Le President!

Mr President, I want to see a strong France helping to move Europe in a new direction, so far the first few months of your Presidency have shown that Socialism will deliver neither.

______

Mr President, I think we’ve had a good debate today and I want to thank you for agreeing to have a full debate with us – something you did not have to do as a Head of State.

Mr Hollande, if you want to push ahead with socialism in France then I wish you good luck and I will not stand in your way.

However, I ask that you do not allow socialism and militant trades unionism to interfere with the functioning of the Single Market.

In particular, I want to raise recent actions by French fishermen – especially in Boulogne – who have prevented Dutch and Belgian vessels from landing their catches there. French fishermen have even vandalised Dutch and Belgian ships.

In my own country, the main Dover-Calais ferry route is regularly blocked by militant fishermen, with the knock-on effect being traffic jams around the South East of England.

So I ask you to do two things: firstly, tackle these militant unions, restore order in your ports, and protect these fishing and trading routes and secondly, don’t try to use the Single Market as a means of harmonising the rest of Europe down to your level. Because if we do then people won’t just be removing their money from France – they’ll be taking it out of Europe as well.

ENDS

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