Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2001-03-01-Speech-4-042"

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"Mr President, Commissioner, Representative of the Council, ladies and gentlemen, the situation that is being negotiated with Mercosur and Chile lends itself to some dangerous suggestions that we should avoid, but it also offers some opportunities that this Union take and some responsibilities that it can assume. We must avoid thinking of this agreement simply as a free trade agreement, which is an almost natural tendency for something that was once just an economic union; today, however, it would be an oversimplification, dangerously favouring just a small elite and not the peoples involved, to whom we wish to propose a global association agreement which in fact has its own political dimension and its own momentum in the processes of cooperation. Latin America, the Mercosur countries and Chile are not just the fourth-largest trading bloc: they are also a continent in which the highest priorities of the European Union’s foreign policy can be fulfilled, and here I am thinking of the fight against poverty, the consolidation of democracy, the fight for human rights and workers’ rights. In its global and political dimensions, this Association Agreement can make a valuable contribution. In this context, it seems deplorable that in the Council’s mandate to the Commission there is no indication of the legal basis of our Association Agreement. We believe it is a fundamental agreement not only for attributing competence, autonomy and responsibility to the European Union’s foreign policy, but especially for managing, at last, to make up our great disadvantage in initiative towards Latin America compared with the United States, for asserting our capacity for political initiative and our competence in our foreign policy towards Latin America. A last point: we must enhance and provide for the participation of civil society. I see civil society not as a trinket, something mundane, a purely aesthetic necessity; I see it as a real, genuine resource in democratic terms, to which Parliament wants to give a say."@en1

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