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Callanan speech during European Parliament debate on the future of Europe, with Austrian Chancellor

15 January 2013

Callanan speech during European Parliament debate on the future of Europe, with Austrian Chancellor

Chancellor, Thank you for coming to the parliament today. It is vital we have a serious debate about the future of Europe, a debate in which the full scale of Europe’s crisis is addressed.

Chancellor,

Thank you for coming to the parliament today.

It is vital we have a serious debate about the future of Europe, a debate in which the full scale of Europe’s crisis is addressed.

It is not just about fixing the euro – although that is essential.

It is about recognising that in a global marketplace, Europe faces ever greater challenges that threaten our long term economic future.

It is about understanding that public opinion across the continent is increasingly alarmed at Europe’s direction.

It is just not good enough to dismiss their concerns as ignorant or populist: if the people have stopped trusting the EU it is because the EU seems to have stopped trusting the people. This must change.

Mr President, we need a new direction for Europe. That is why the ECR Group was created: to articulate a modern message setting out a new vision for Europe. We want to see European cooperation succeed, but this requires radical change in how we think and operate.

Today we stand at a crossroads. As the columnist Clive Crook recently wrote: “The European project is in trouble because the model — of a single, ever-closer union — has moved so far away from the reality of what people want and economies can stand.”

And that is why the EU needs a new model, not of inward-looking ever-closer union but a union of flexibility and practicality.

So, how can we achieve this ?

1. We can respond to this crisis by opening our markets and freeing enterprise from the dead hand of the state;

2. We can address the democratic deficit if we recognise that the nation state is not an outdated concept but the building block of legitimate government;

3. And we can take a practical, common sense approach to solving our common problems, rather than allowing ourselves to be driven by ideology or romanticism.

Here are a few places to start:

– A critical review of the entire Community acquis, slashing regulation that burdens our markets and businesses and costs jobs;

– A political drive to reinvigorate the Single Market through widening its scope and developing the digital economy;

– A thorough reprioritisation – line-by-line – of the EU budget so that it is focused on adding real value;

– and a change in gear in our efforts to open trade with the USA, with India, and with other emerging economies.

Mr President, these reforms will only be possible if we put an end to the mentality that we politicians have the answers to everyone’s problems. I’m particularly fond of the Ronald Reagan quote: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’

Often our good intentions have unintended consequences. We can make it harder for people to take responsibility for themselves, or for businesses to deliver economic growth and employment. If Europe’s future is to be one of economic vibrancy then we need to realise that often the best thing politicians can do is to get out of the way.

Presidents, Chancellor, the Euro crisis has broken the consensus that we can just continue with ‘business as usual’. We need a fresh start and a new model: not an à la carte Europe, nor a Europe with first and second classes of Membership, but a flexible model, all converging around the Single Market in which every member can contribute according to their needs and interests – a Europe where all are equally valued and respected, a Union that is genuinely ‘united in diversity’.

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