PM Tsipras in joint statements with Tajani: We need to replace Europe of fear with Europe of hope
“Our political duty today is to replace this Europe of fear with a Europe of hope and forge a new social contract which will reconnect Europe with its founding principles and values, democratise the Eurozone and ensure a decent living for its citizens,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday, in joint statements with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani after participating in a debate on the future of Europe at the Europarliament plenum.
He described the debate as “lively and constructive” and said that everyone understood that Europe was at a critical crossroads.
The discussion was very interesting, he added, especially since Greece was a “case study” for Europe and had managed, “after eight consecutive years of failed reforms and failed programmes” to finally find the right way and achieve a clean exit from the memorandum by doing the reforms that were necessary for the Greek economy while also protecting the most vulnerable people.
“I think that at a moment when Europe is trying to cope with multiple challenges, dialogue is necessary between us. Challenges that have to do with the management of the adverse consequences of the economic crises within our societies, such as the increase in inequalities and poverty, but also among the member-states, where there is an unprecedented social and economic divergence,” Tsipras said.
These challenges were also related to the management of the refugee and migration crisis, he added, “which not only divides Europe but, more than that, threatens its cohesion as various member-states revert to national solutions.”
It was very useful, he said, to exchange views and make clear how necessary it is for Europe to change page. Noting that many in the European Parliament had felt intimidated by him and his agenda for change when he first appeared before the European Parliament three years before, Tsipras noted that the “true danger for Europe are the forces that want to kill Europe and not those that want to change it.”
“We need to make the European project a project of our people; at the same time we have to efficiently face the refugee and migration flows…I fully agree with you that it is necessary to walk together in order to reform the Dublin Treaty,” he said to Tajani.
Ending his remarks, the Greek premier noted that Europe, beyond the difficulties, had succeeded in ensuring the survival “of our common home, the European Union” from the financial crises and, despite the difficulties that lay ahead, “I believe that it is possible but also necessary to work for a Europe that is a Europe for its people and one that will underline once again the founding values and principles of solidarity, social cohesion, democracy and cooperation.”
Tajani, in his own remarks, placed emphasis on migration as “one of the most important problems for everyone in Europe,” especially for the countries of the European south, and emphasised the need to make decisions on reforming the Dublin Treaty.
“The European Parliament voted in the new rules on Dublin reform, we are pushing hard with the member-states for an agreement on this in the Council… I think the European Parliament proposal is a good compromise. Now we need a clear position by the European Council,” he said.
Expressing solidarity with Greece following the summer’s disastrous fires, he also stressed the need for decisions on a European civil protection programme soon because the problem was likely to recur next year.
“Cooperation on this important, not only for the countries of the south of Europe but also for the countries of the north,” he added, citing the fires in Sweden.
“For us it is important to have this debate with the leaders of the European member-states on the future of the EU. The European Parliament is the heart of the democracy in Europe, the only European institution elected by EU citizens. We want to reduce the distance between European institutions and European citizens. We want to change Europe, of course, but it would be a big mistake to kill Europe,” Tajani said.