Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2000-02-15-Speech-2-065"

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"Madam President, Mr President of the Commission, I have read and re-read the Commission’s document setting out the strategic objectives for its term in office. I am delighted that it is being discussed in Parliament, but I also note the compromises and the omissions in it. The Commission makes only a passing reference to economic and social cohesion, to solidarity between Member States and to the European Union’s regional policy. And this is true even when it addresses the issue of enlargement. Are reducing the disparities between levels of development and the consequent promotion of real convergence objectives that we have already achieved? Certainly not! At the same time, it was rightly pointed out that Europe must evaluate its role as a joint partner with developing countries, and strengthen its activities designed for fighting poverty. This document leaves out issues which clearly should have been included. I think the fact that the Commission does not address the issue of cohesion is extremely serious. It plays down one of the Treaties’ principles – that of economic and social cohesion – which must inform all of the European institutions’ policies and measures. It seems to ignore the fact that various European regions are still considerably less advanced than others. It also forgets that enlargement means that we must get regional policy right. Unless we achieve real convergence, the cohesion of the European Union itself will be at risk. We should take into consideration the sixth periodic report on the situation of the regions in the European Union, for which the Commission is responsible. This report confirms that whereas an average level of development is given a rating of 100, the ten so-called “strongest” regions reached an average of 158, and the ten so-called “weakest” regions reached a figure of around 50. You may draw your own conclusions. 50 is exactly the level of development of my own region, the Azores, one of the regions defined in the Treaties as ultra-peripheral. I am waiting for the Commission’s report on the ultra-peripheral regions, which the Council decided should be drawn up by December 1999. I shall finish by restating my conviction that without economic and social cohesion, there will be no cohesion at all, only disunity."@en1

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