The European Parliament President David Sassoli says the next few years will be decisive for the EU.
He was speaking in the wake of the December European Council meeting
On the current state of Europe, he said, “Last May, European citizens sent a very clear message that they are willing and able to resist the sirens of populism and nationalism, confirming their faith in the European institutions and the European project.
“The faith citizens have placed in us is not a blank cheque. Our citizens want a different Europe, more democratic, more open, greener, more social and inclusive, more secure, and more attentive to their needs.”
“The next few years will be decisive for the future of Europe. We have no margin for error.”
On relations between EU institutions, he noted, “The hearings showed that the European Parliament has taken on a key role in shaping the Union’s political agenda, exercising its powers to the full.
“I applaud President von der Leyen for her obvious willingness to listen to Parliament’s proposals and grasp their importance. In the course of the last months, the Commission programme was improved. Parliament’s assessments led to changes in the appointees and in the make-up of their portfolios.
“This give-and-take between Parliament and the future Commission not only enhanced the democratic legitimacy of the new College of Commissioners – elected in November with far broader support than the team originally proposed in July – but also made for a very positive and constructive dialogue between the two institutions. That dialogue, expanded of course to include the Council, must now continue, starting with the process of setting priorities for the next few years.”
On Climate Change, he said “Two weeks ago, Parliament recognised the unprecedented nature of the existential threat that humanity faces. It declared a climate and environmental emergency and pledged to take immediate practical measures to tackle it.
“I urge the European Council to assume its own responsibilities without delay and to set as of today the same goal of climate neutrality, to be achieved by 2050.
“We know only too well that climate change will bring profound changes in our societies and economies. This is why the measures we take must support competitiveness and be accompanied by far-reaching social and inclusion measures, in order to guarantee a just transition, which fosters job creation and reflects the need for a high level of welfare protection.
“Parliament welcomes the Commission proposal to set up a Just Transition Fund as an overarching instrument at European level whose purpose is to guarantee an inclusive transition by targeting the people and regions most affected by decarbonisation. No one must be left behind. Efforts made by those who depend predominantly on carbon-based industries must be recognised and supported.”
Referring to the Multiannual EU budget he said, “Parliament’s stance is well known. I was surprised by the latest proposal from the Finnish Presidency, which – and I say this with all due respect, esteem and friendship for the Helsinki Government – falls well short of the expectations of all Parliament’s political groups.
“Parliament is ready to negotiate in a spirit of constructive dialogue, but without compromising its prerogatives and on an equal footing with the other institutions.”
“Let me be absolutely clear: no one should make the mistake of taking Parliament’s consent for granted without having listened to what it has to say. Proper funding is required to implement the initiatives announced by President von der Leyen.”
Turning to the Conference on the future of Europe he said, “For the European Parliament, this will be one of the priorities for the current parliamentary term, and we intend to be a driving force in the organisation of the conference
“We welcome the fact that the Commission has taken the step of proposing a conference. However, I am even more pleased that, for the first time in these 10 years, Member States are also keen to launch a wide-ranging debate on the future of Europe and reach agreement on a shared vision of how we can improve our policy-making in order to achieve practical results and benefits for our citizens.”
“It is vital that the Presidents of the three institutions show joint leadership by taking on a personal role in this process, in order to emphasise the importance of this initiative. We must also involve European citizens and civil society in an open and inclusive way.
“Parliament’s in-house working group will present its conclusions to the Conference of Presidents on 19 December and we will adopt a resolution in January, to be ready to start discussions with you and the Commission early next year.”