Pittella: We need a new Europe closer to people's real needs

Gianni Pittella - State of the Union SOTEU

Following the debate on the State of Union in the plenary of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the president of the S&D Group, Gianni Pittella, stated:

"Europe is at a crossroads. The wind of change for a reformed and enhanced Europe is blowing strongly, battering the walls of those who have been working to dismantle Europe. We must use this momentum to radically change Europe and bring it closer to the real needs of the people.

"European citizens want to know what Europe can do for them. How can Europe improve working conditions and salaries, how Europe can help young people find a decent job, or provide support if you become unemployed.

"As European Socialists and Democrats, we call on Juncker and the European Commission to deliver real results on a youth guarantee and a new child guarantee, as well as on fair and equal pay for equal work. The fight against tax evasion and fraud must be the top priority, starting with the big multinational corporates that should have to pay taxes exactly as EU citizens do. This must happen where the companies make their profits not artificially shifted to tax havens. These revenues could help to beef up the 'own resources' of the EU Budget, which must be increased.

"We welcome Juncker’s acknowledgment of the equality between the EU member states – a multispeed Europe is not a sustainable option! Let's provide the eurozone with a real Finance minister, accountable to the European Parliament, with an appropriate fiscal capacity to be used for growth and development. Europe certainly doesn't need of a kind of watchdog along the lines of the Troika.

"Citizens are also expecting us to provide a real European approach to the migration crisis. We must look at Africa not only as a continent of problems but also as continent of opportunities to be developed and supported through a real partnership. A new approach that cares about people, especially unaccompanied children, instead of viewing them just as cold statistics. Legal channels must be set up in order to tackle illegal migration and human trafficking. My group will never support a Dublin reform which does not remove the first country of arrival principle.

"People want to see democracy and the rule of law respected and not threatened by the governments in Hungary and Poland. We welcome Juncker’s words on this and call the Commission to act on it if needed. ECJ judgements must be respected and applied.

"Last but not least the revision of EU governance. The real problem is the overwhelming weight of the Council and the detrimental use of the unanimity vote system. Let’s break the taboo. We must revise the dominant role of the Council and increase the use of the majority vote system. Only by a real democratisation of the institutional balance, with an enhanced role for the Parliament, can we finally ensure Europe is capable of meeting the challenges ahead.

"In the same way, a joint president for the Commission and the European Council – selected by the Parliament through the ‘Spitzenkandidaten’ system – could help make the EU more democratic and transparent."