by ALDE Group President Guy Verhofstadt
The European Parliament welcomed today France’s President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the Future Of Europe. Check out what ALDE Group President, Guy Verhofstadt, had to say about it:
“Mr. President of the French Republic (Emmanuel Macron), Dear colleagues,
First, I want to repeat in your presence what I said yesterday: we wholeheartedly support the military action that has been taken in Syria.
Unlike Iraq in 2003, this intervention is fully justified. A regime that uses chemical weapons against its own population is a genocidal, illegitimate regime.
That said, this intervention also demonstrates our weakness. France and the United Kingdom launch missiles. Not the European Union. 65 years after the National Assembly torpedoed the European Defense Community, a European army still does not exist. This is also true for our foreign policy, which remains an illusion because of the rule of unanimity. This weakness is not limited to our external action. This paralysis is even more evident in our internal affairs.
When, as with Brexit, a Member State leaves the European family, it can hardly be described as a success.
The same goes for authoritarian excesses in Poland and especially in Hungary. The OSCE speaks in its recent report on the elections of “Xenophobic Rhetoric”, “Media Bias”, “Opaque Electoral Financing”. These are virtually the same remarks made by the OSCE with regard to the election of Putin.
It must be clear. There is no room for “illegitimate states” in our Union. Freedom of expression, the rule of law, equality before the law are not only liberal principles from the Enlightenment but also and especially European values.
And what are we doing? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. On the contrary, our colleagues from the EPP send their congratulations to Orbán. This refusal to tackle aberrations like Hungary, this inability to act in the face of crises like Syria, or challenges such as migration flows also affect our economies.
Nine months after the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008, the United States responded with a program of cleaning up banks and investment of $ 2.5 trillion. And us? Nine years later we still have not cleaned up our banks. No Banking Union either. No new governance for the euro area. I am very worried that Europe is not ready for a new financial crisis.
How is it possible ? Why always “too little and too late”? The answer is simple. The intergovernmental method and its rule of unanimity no longer works. In today’s world such a system is doomed to fail, to inertia.
In addition, the binary political model that has governed the Union since its inception is over. By that I mean, the two traditional parties, and their grand coalition, which all too often hinder progress. But also the Franco-German axis, which dominates the Council without showing the way yet. Do not get me wrong, Mr. President: your good agreement with Ms. Merkel is important. But progress in Europe can not be determined by the agreement — yes or no — between two heads of state.
Let’s face it, eurosceptics are not always wrong. We must recognise that a large majority of our citizens are exasperated by the inertia of the union. You were right in your speech at the Sorbonne. The solution to break this inertia is not to break Europe, but to reinvent it, to refound it. You said “True sovereignty is European”. That is true. And it was brave to say it in a country that always thought “Long live Europe, provided it is French”. You broke with this platitude.
You convinced the French during the election that a nation is not sovereign when it folds back on itself, but when society and its citizens regain power over their own lives, their own destiny. And for that we need a new transnational project propelled by a real pan-European momentum. I want to encourage you to persevere. Persevere because the conservative forces in Europe are powerful. Too many are content with the status quo, those for whom keeping power is more important than exercising it.
Sometimes I have the impression that compared to the conservatives in Europe, even the SNCF is a stronghold of reformists. I only ask you one thing. Do not hesitate. Do not abdicate. The road is full of pitfalls, as illustrated by our failure on the transnational lists. But do not lower your level of ambition. We will be many in 2019 to support you. Because 2019 will be the time of a “generation Europe”. A new generation that requires only daring and vision. To paraphrase Danton: “audacity, audacity, audacity and Europe will be saved! “
Listen to the original speech in French HERE.