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Response from Nicolas Schmit to the positions taken by parliamentarians during the Lisbon Strategy debate in the European Parliament

Date of Speech : 09-03-2005

Place : Strasbourg

Speaker : Nicolas Schmit

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : European Parliament plenary session

1) The Lisbon Strategy debate has shown that all of us are in the midst of a certain paradox.

Europe is the world’s largest trading power, some Member States are champions in exports and many European businesses are the world leaders in their sector.

European industry, in aerospace and space technologies, for example, has proven its ability to catch up. The dynamics of the new Member States show that enlargement is not a hindrance to the economic development of the European Union but, on the contrary, a stimulus.

The ‘decline’ of Europe is neither a reality nor inevitable!

And yet, in Europe’s economy as a whole (there are of course divergences between Member States) we must achieve a sufficient and sustainable pace of growth to create the jobs Europe needs and significantly lower the level of unemployment.

2) Nonetheless, there is no reason to surrender to pessimism.

The revival of the Lisbon Strategy is a crucial time to inject fresh impetus into Europe, but the relaunch of economic growth is certainly not synonymous with the dismantling of the European social model or the unbridled exploitation of natural resources. This is not the way to reform the strategy.

Social exclusion does not produce more growth nor does it produce more jobs. An economy that is increasingly less competitive, one that no longer produces enough jobs, necessarily leads to social exclusion and shakes the very foundations of the European social model. Briefly stated, growth must serve social cohesion.

3) The European Parliament’s resolution is an important contribution to the great reform project of the Lisbon Strategy.

It demands more research and a better translation of this research into new products and services.

It demands better access and more widespread dissemination of new technologies and innovation so that the knowledge-based economy is more firmly anchored in our societies.

It is the interpreter of the accelerated development of the eco-technologies that can enable Europe to affirm its leadership in these activities of the future.

4) European Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen was correct in underscoring the role that small and medium-sized enterprises play in the job market. To this end, it is necessary to find new modes of financing, to facilitate the allocation of venture capital and to simplify laws while improving them.

Social innovation, investment in human capital, continuing education throughout people’s professional life: that is the way to unite flexibility with security.

A dynamic Europe, which is not subjected to globalisation but is a true player, helps shape it. Therefore, it is not a Europe with societies in several gears.

5) The economic future of the European Union is at a crucial stage: to succeed in reviving the Lisbon Strategy without being able to agree on a serious adaptation of the Growth and Stability Pact would be futile.

Europe needs structural reforms just as it needs a macro-economic framework that strikes the right balance between stability, growth and jobs. In this respect, uncontrolled deficits are not a solution. Future investments cannot bear the brunt of an accounting approach that has nothing to do with a good economic policy.

A link must be forged between the financial perspectives and the revival of the Lisbon Strategy.

What credibility would the European Union have if it adopted a strategy that announced the revival of research, increased emphasis on actions to promote competitiveness, adopted policies that made economic development more consistent with ecological balances, and then had to admit that, for an insignificant fraction of its gross national product, it was unable to reach an agreement on the community financing of its policies?

6) Over the next two weeks, the European Union will be under close observation. Europe can create a true new dynamic. Europe can also fail by taking huge risks in its future development and in the citizens’ acceptance of the Union that is required.

In close cooperation with the Commission, the Presidency wishes success for this grand partnership project.

The Presidency is counting on the support of your Parliament that will meet the national parliaments next week to discuss the Lisbon Strategy.

The release of energies, creativity, the spirit of innovation, but also social responsibility and solidarity, make Europe what it is and these are the building blocks of Europe’s future.

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This page was last modified on : 10-03-2005

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