Raffaele Fitto on SOTEU: “Bold choices must be made to weather the crisis”

During today’s debate on the State of the Union with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, ECR Group Co-Chairman Raffaele Fitto said:

“Thank you, President. President von der Leyen. On behalf of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, I would like to greet Mrs Zelenska and reiterate, on this occasion, how useful and fundamental it is to send a clear message of total support for Ukraine from this Chamber. President von der Leyen, your State of the Union speech this year is certainly the most difficult of all years, because the context in which we find ourselves is truly complex, not only because of what is happening these days, but because we are coming from a difficult period, first with the pandemic and then with the outbreak of war.

Moreover, it is important to express clearly a strong condemnation of Russia’s actions and behaviour. It is necessary to express full and sympathetic support for Ukraine in the daily actions of governments and of this European institution. At the same time, it is equally important to work so that, on defense and foreign policy issues, Europe is able to build a different position than in the past. Especially within the Atlantic Alliance, where the structure, the relationship and the partnership between European countries must be strengthened.

However, it is clear that all of this leads us today to express an assessment that can only be of full support for a line, not an easy one, but one that must be vigorously pursued: support for sanctions. Only with sanctions can these results be achieved. This action on the issue of sanctions is also decisive with respect to the need, however, to make choices that can help the everyday life of citizens and businesses, and on this we need unity and timeliness, not window-dressing but real action. It is necessary in order to be able to tackle two major issues: that of energy and that of interventions towards families and businesses, to be able to weather the crisis in which we find ourselves today. And it is clear that in this context we need clear answers: a price cap on gas is one of them, as is the decoupling of the price between gas and energy. Bold choices.

I would like to give a concrete example, to explain the extent of the speculation taking place and the need to intervene: on 9 September, we witnessed the European Council of Energy Ministers giving a very positive and clear signal: immediately after 12 September, the price of gas fell below 200 euro; on 26 August it was over 330 euro. Now, the price of gas is rising again because the signal coming from the European institutions is not positive. That is why we need a strong response. That is why all Member States really need to be aware of the difficulties they face, and there is also a need for timeliness on this, because all programming – from cohesion programming, to the 2021-2027 programming, to the National Recovery and Resilience Plans – pay the price of having had a context analysis in their choices that predates the outbreak of war. We must have more flexibility in the use of these resources and at the same time, we must work with conviction to bring true unity to the European context.

I have listened to the statements of my colleagues, Chairpersons of the other groups. I understand the need to polemicise over the national elections of the various countries. But this is not the way. I too thank the two girls who took in the Ukrainian refugees. They are two girls who represent a fine example, but allow me to say this: this example is also represented in the front of governments and countries, starting with Poland, which opened their arms and gave an exceptional demonstration of reception when it came to taking in refugees fleeing Ukraine.

Therefore, we must be aware that unity cannot be sought here through confrontation. Unity must be real, substantial, avoiding using the weapon of the rule of law when we do not need it and above all avoiding using ideological fury that leads nowhere positive. I say this to our colleagues: in the coming months we will probably work on common fronts in the general interest and there is no need for this controversy, no need for this clash. We need a sense of maturity and responsibility. What is needed is a serious Europe capable of understanding, in cooperation with national governments. This path must be taken. In this context, I hope that there can be a correct approach. Democracy, you see, does not emerge only when you like it. It is not when the voters vote as you would prefer. Democracy, always, is when the voters vote. All of us together, whether we win or lose, we must respect the mandate of the people. Only in this way will we be able to build a serious, credible Europe that can meet the challenges of the future.”

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