Europe has made considerable progress in recent months. There is no doubt that the recovery plan is a historic step forward. It embodies the power of the Union and our ability to overcome crises together.
We have started to build a citizens’ Europe in the true sense of the word. By the way, has anyone heard from the Nationalists or anti-Europeans in recent weeks? Their arguments against our European project have stalled and they have nothing else to say. They want to hide the fact that they need this recovery plan like every other European, because it means they need Europe also. Of course they will never admit this, but today it is clear that their nationalist project has no purpose.
It is now time to be very clear when it comes to our values, and not just when it concerns EU money. There is no possible trade-off between a Europe of investments and a Europe of values. Europe is not one or the other, it can only be both.
The rule of law is not optional, it is a key principle for everyone, including for you President. What will happen to the trust gained from the citizens in these last days if in a year or two from now we read articles in the press telling us that money from the recovery plan or the future budget went into the pockets of autocrats within our Union.
A weak judiciary in one single Member State undermines the credibility of the Rule of Law in Europe as a whole.
The Council wants greater flexibility in the use of European funds. But the amounts at stake are colossal and part of it is made up of debts in the name of European citizens. The Union’s financial interests must be protected from corruption and conflicts of interest. The Rule of Law is not abstract. And it is your responsibility to stand by the Parliament in this fight, and the fight for own resources for the new budget.
Furthermore, every one of our decisions must be made to ensure our citizens gain sustainable prosperity. An important step in climate legislation has just been taken by setting the objective of a 55 % reduction in emissions. You reacted to the request for an impact assessment and I thank you for that. This is an exemplary and historic decision.
We now expect a digital law that paves the way for independence in terms of processing, data encryption and cloud storage. These everyday technologies will determine the way in which we live in the future. It would simply be irresponsible to rely on foreign powers. I welcome the decision to secure 20% of the recovery plan.
The construction of a green and digital Europe must inspire confidence not fear. To do this, we must not hinder this with red tape or loss of freedom. By this we can create a positive transition, the foundations of a new relationship with natural resources, through digital, social and economic innovation.
Let us build a Europe that does not waiver faced with a British Prime Minister who is losing his bearings, a Turkish leader who is visibly in a state of nationalist fever and a Putin determined to sow discord.
A Europe that does not forget its rural life, where digital and greening are not there to create bureaucracy but to generate income for farmers and well being for consumers.
President, Europe must be a beacon of stability for our citizens, it must provide solutions to their uncertainties and fears. We have done this in recent months but the crisis is not yet over. Europeans are tired from months of hardship. More than ever, we must mobilise to build a strong, reactive Europe where it is needed.
We will win if we know how to generate solidarity through our actions and decisions.
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