Sassoli to EUCO: Europe needs a new project of hope 

Key extracts of the speech by European Parliament President to the European Council

In his speech to European Heads of State and Government, the President of the European Parliament today outlined three key principles for Europe to follow in its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Sassoli said:

“What Europe needs, and needs most of all, is a new project of hope. I think we can build that project on the basis of a powerful three-pronged approach: a Europe that innovates; a Europe that protects; and a Europe that illuminates.

A Europe that innovates

“What we need is innovation in all areas – a renewed sense of creativity as regards our institutions, our policy-making, our actions and even our lifestyles, since that is what the green transition demands of us. The Conference on the Future of Europe should help us find innovative ways of reawakening the feeling that Europe is a project with which all Europeans can identify.

“Parliament has long advocated a specific approach to making our institutions more democratic, stronger and more innovative, which is to give Parliament a right of legislative initiative. Our Union must also be the pioneer in introducing rules in areas on which the whole world is focusing, especially when it comes to regulating new sectors of the economy that are currently a legislative free-for-all. That is what we did for personal data protection, and our example is now being followed the world over. That is what we will now do for digital markets, to ensure that the web giants do not supplant the people as lawmakers!

“There must also be innovation in our funding arrangements. Parliament and Europe’s citizens are impatient for the arrival of the own resources package, which should allow the Union to sustainably boost its financing potential and repay its mutualised debt. Our credibility is on the line. Our duty is to make our financial framework arrangements fit for purpose – to tackle the challenges of our times – by carrying out a realistic reform of the Stability and Growth Pact. Our future, and that of our children, can no longer be held hostage to the 3% deficit rule.”

A Europe that protects

“Protecting Europeans means being better able to prepare our response to all of tomorrow’s crises – be they environmental, economic, diplomatic or military. It means, firstly, bolstering our common security and defence policy so that we can act together more swiftly, and more incisively, when our interests are threatened. I know that this will be one of the key issues for the forthcoming French Presidency, and that is a good thing.

“Protecting Europeans also involves taking resolute action to better integrate our migration and external border management policies. It also means ensuring that each and every European can earn a living in dignity, on the basis of decent and fair minimum wages, and we again call for an ambitious compromise on this issue.

“Lastly, we must find effective technical and economic responses in the event of an energy crisis. No one in Europe should be abandoned to energy poverty, even when global markets are disrupted by international crises. At these critical times, too, the Union has to find bold solutions to keep all Europeans secure.”

A Europe that illuminates through its democratic model

“Europe must become more than just resilient; it must also rediscover its pride in its democratic model. Our fervent wish must be that this model of democracy, freedom and prosperity serves as a beacon and inspiration not only for our fellow citizens in Europe, but also beyond our borders.

“I hope that Europe Day on 9 May next year will see a common, powerful and united demonstration of our commitment to the European project and to the values and civilisation it imparts.”

“As you will have realised, my observations today have not been confined to matters of current concern. I felt it was important to use this address to draw attention to the gaps in the European project.”

The full speech is available here