Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-201"

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"Mr President, while we are all making statements and giving evidence, I should like to use the minutes of my final speech of this legislative term to try to offer some observations of my own on this issue. Time is at a premium, but this is a worthwhile exercise. An even more worthwhile exercise would be to stop the so-called economic and social model from becoming an empty phrase, a hollow shell that has become demagogy, and a mere husk from which we have been extracting the living organisms. These living organisms are principles and values that must be enforced on a practical basis. They are achievements and not gifts, achievements that must be fought for and not gifts that are gratefully received, principles that we want to keep and to ensure that they do not suffer a slow and complete demise. In order to place this in a historical context, I shall cite the example of Portugal. For decades we were outside the framework of what is referred to as the ‘European model’; thirty years ago, with the ‘April 25th Revolution’, we won social security, reforms, unemployment benefit and a minimum wage; we won the right to health and education and this became enshrined in the Constitution; work – on land, at sea, in manufacturing and in the tertiary sector – was accorded the value that it merits; public services were created; we sought to link the public, cooperative and private sectors; priority was given to the collective interest, with the economy controlled by democratic politics and not vice-versa. Politics was no longer in a position to allow major private financial concerns to be established, with various forms of protection. Thereafter, particularly after 1986, priority was given to nominal convergence, albeit accompanied by actual divergence and an uneven approach at social and regional level. This occurred because the objective of economic and social cohesion did not turn out as it ought to have done. We did not want ridiculous budgetary criteria to be imposed, or accounts of benefactors’ sacrifices and beneficiaries’ gains; what we wanted from the policy was for it to promote cooperation and the transfer of means, with mutual respect and benefits for all. A profoundly significant enlargement is upon us, which we welcome, with European peoples and cultures coming together. It will not, however, work this way whilst we fail to take account of the experiences – both positive and negative – of the new Member States. These experiences must help us to ensure the continued existence of the values and principles that form part of the ‘European model’. Indeed, because it was not only the Beveridge plan, but also a degree of competition that led to the principles and values that humanised the use of the workforce being enshrined. It was significant that mention was made yesterday of Reagan and Thatcher, characters who symbolised neo-liberalism, which is governed solely by the rules of the market, and which will stop at nothing to destroy those principles and values. From this side of the House, I welcome the enlarged Europe and the concept of neighbourhood – as a European model for living and not a symbol of window-dressing rhetoric – which will be the path to follow, provided that we maximise the wealth of various situations institutionally, economically, socially, culturally, and not the ideological straitjacket of an omnipotent paradigm, of an omnipotent neo-liberal, federal and militarised Constitution, on the pretext of the spectre of a threat to security. I shall finish as I began, Mr President, given that three minutes do not last long. The principles and values of a new way forward are, from now on, those of genuine solidarity, of peace, of mutual respect of a democracy, which is not confined to the act of voting, but which extends to the citizens, the workers and the people actually participating."@en1

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