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”It is time to leave behind the old concepts of East and West” – anförande i plenum

Gunnar Hökmark (PPE). – Mr President, I think that after the Lisbon Treaty becomes reality, the meeting of the European Council last week and the nomination of Commissioners, it is time to set new perspectives and see the new challenges that are ahead of us.One of them is obvious and that is that the work after Copenhagen will be just as challenging as the work before. It will continue to be one of the main tasks for the European Union and the new Commission. But, also, we shall consider the fact that now is also the time to leave behind the old concepts of East and West in Europe, or new and old, and to think that it is one Europe.And it is also time to see that now, after all the discussions regarding the Lisbon Treaty, it is time to see a new momentum for the enlargement process.

Croatia and Iceland – I would like them to compete to be number 28. But, also, the Western Balkans and of course the negotiations with Turkey need to be considered. Those are issues that are now ahead of us and are a way of improving the strength of the European Union in a new world, where we need to be strong and to lead as regards ideas and values.

But it is also a matter of now ensuring that we will have a new agenda for a social Europe – meaning jobs, innovation and prosperity – and the only means to achieve that is to ensure that, after the crisis, we can become a competitive and leading economy.

And I would underline that there is a responsibility for the new Commission to ensure that there will be no protectionism, that it will be easy for small and medium-sized enterprises to grow and emerge and act throughout Europe, and that we can ensure that Europe will be a dynamic economy. This is important, and I say this to the President of the Commission and to all Commissioners: we need to ensure that we have a competitive European economy in order to have a social Europe.