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Press Release
Nicolas Schmit at the European Parliament: “The construction of a true European democracy is the only way to achieve political Union”

Date of release : 08-06-2005

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : European Parliament plenary session

On Wednesday 8 June 2005, at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Nicolas Schmit, spoke on behalf of the Presidency about the preparation for the European Council in Brussels on 16th and 17th June.

Referring back to the results of the two referendums of 29th May and 2nd June, Nicolas Schmit noted that "following intense debate in France and in the Netherlands, many of us have expressed our disappointment and regrets regarding the results of the vote in these two countries. Naturally, we respect the democratic choice of the electorate."

Minister Schmit went on to remind his audience of  "the massive vote in the European Parliament on 12th January 2005 in favour of a treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. Ten countries have ratified the treaty, including one – Spain – by referendum. We must also respect their democratic decision."

However, Nicolas Schmit recognises that "the votes in the Netherlands and in France – two founder Member States – have brought about a new situation we have to face up to. Certain worries were put forward in these votes, certain aspirations and expectations, and also some disappointments were put forward."

According to Minister Schmit, "two messages were put forward in these votes: dissatisfaction with Europe as it stands and as it currently operates, but at the same time, many citizens who said no still have strongly pro-European sentiments for the idea of Europe and for the need for a Europe acting on its own initiative in a changing world."

This is why "the Council should listen to these messages sent out after a democratic debate, which has been lacking for too long. All those who justified their choice by a hypothetical "plan B" now have to face up to the fact that there is no easy exit from such a complex situation."

As regards the ratification procedure organised by the treaty, Minister Schmit notes "that declaration 30 appended to the treaty in the final section has brought about a situation where, at the end of a period of ratification, several countries have not succeeded in finalising the procedure. We must also take into account the fact that ten countries have successfully finalised the ratification process, while over half of the Member States have yet to make a decision. It is not right to deprive these people or their parliaments of a democratic debate and the possibility of giving their opinions in turn."

Nicolas Schmit outlined that "the treaty is the culmination of an overall compromise, that it has balance, that one element is difficult to have without another. The European Council will proceed with a collective and in-depth analysis of the situation before clearly setting out what should follow in the process. The European Union should not be allowed to slide backwards in uncertainty, immobility or paralysis."

For Minister Schmit, "citizens expect definite actions, more concern for their own worries, that we act on an economic and social level, and that we act for their security. The European Council’s considerations should therefore be extended. It can only be limited to procedural issues when expectations are political. Our aim must remain political union. The construction of a true European democracy is the only way to achieve this."

During the European Council of 16th and 17th June 2005, a compromise on the financial prospects could bring the political impetus that the EU urgently needs in order to "act in the interests of competitiveness, employment, cohesion, better protection for the environment, internal security and a more active international role."

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This page was last modified on : 08-06-2005

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