Europe has one challenge above all others

ECR Co-Chairman Raffaele Fitto on European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the Union address.

In his remarks following European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the Union address, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group Co-Chairman Raffaele Fitto called for new mechanisms capable of generating investment and ensuring a solid and lasting economic recovery in Europe.

Speaking in plenary, he said:

“Thank you President, President of the Commission, I have listened very carefully to your speech and I think it is important, starting from your considerations on the key steps that Europe is taking today, to consider that we should not just be shedding light on all the positive things that have been achieved.

You have claimed the successes of the Next Generation EU Programme and the vaccination campaign, but it is also important to deeply understand the problems in Europe; to understand and remember also what didn’t go well, how the EU failed in the first phases of the pandemic.

When faced with the uncertainty of Covid-19, there was no climate of solidarity and unity, but of selfishness and close-mindedness, and the response was slow. We have to remember that. Because remembering this helps us better understand the opportunities and perspectives which confront us.

From this crisis has emerged the need for a profound change which we, as always, are ready to tackle, not with slogans, but with serious proposals, as long as there is a real discussion that respects everyone’s opinions and proposals. The pandemic crisis still ongoing, presenting economic and social challenges, and the international context is increasingly characterised by strong tensions as various actors and new fronts of instability confront us with serious challenges to which our continent must be able to give answers.

The first challenge is the one which was already referred to; fundamentally, that of health, in conjunction with economic and social challenges.

We must ensure that the first signs of recovery become structural, creating the conditions for a solid and lasting economic recovery, capable of guaranteeing employment and social stability.

The resources and objectives of Next Generation EU play a fundamental role, but on their own they are not enough.

I have not heard a single word about the Stability Pact. The Stability Pact is not a mere detail, yet no one is talking about it as if there is no problem.

Instead, it is a decisive and fundamental issue, because changing the mechanisms while respecting debt sustainability is a decisive move.

Not doing so would be to return to our old ways, back to two years ago, as if nothing ever happened.

It would be devastating and would also make the policies you refer to much less credible. But at the same time, it’s important to refer to the necessary changes in the field of state aid which have led to exacerbated disparities between the various Member States.

In recent months, we have realized that we are too dependent on the outside world, especially with regard to medical products and raw materials. Commercial policy must be rethought and strengthened, first of all by regaining a certain strategic and productive autonomy in some key sectors.

All this must be done while giving appropriate consideration to the environmental and digital transition. We all agree on this, but we cannot put our backs to the wall and brand as demagogic those who have identified a serious problem: that the climate transition cannot be achieved without evaluating the global context and, above all, the impact on our productive and economic systems. Because otherwise, we would really risk doing damage, and would not produce the results that we aspire to.

The theme of international affairs and immigration is also very urgent. We have three of the same situation and we are reacting differently to each.

We have the first front – that of Central Europe – which we are treating with great ambiguity and hypocrisy as we invest heavily in giving resources to Turkey, while little is done in the Mediterranean and Lukashenko continues to exploit immigration, something that began with the Afghan affair.

In closing, I think it’s important to make a final reference to the Rule of Law. We are ready for confrontation. If the Conference on the Future of Europe is going to impose a federalist agenda, it is of no interest to us. If the Conference on the Future of Europe and the debates in this chamber are open and respect all positions, we are there.

What is happening with some member states, like Poland, is exclusively the result of political imposition and preconception, which goes in the opposite direction of the principles and values of a European Union that respects the diversity and competences of individual states.

Thank you.”

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