Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2005-01-11-Speech-2-132"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, 2004 was a particularly noteworthy year in the history of European integration, and it had both high and low points. There can be no doubt that the high points included the enlargement of the Community from 15 to 25 Member States, and the indications given in December 2004 that further enlargements would follow. Another high point was the signing of the Constitution on 29 October in Rome. It is generally acknowledged, however, that the European elections were a low point, both in terms of their date and their outcome. Turnout for the European elections was lower than ever before, and further evidence for this can be seen in the fragmentation the results caused in this House. Proof of this fragmentation can be found not least in the many colourful flags I see around me, and by no means only in front of the building. In 2005, therefore, we must ensure that the public become involved again in the European project, and I do not believe that to be actually such a hard task. It is, however, an issue of communication. The product we have – the new European Constitution – is a very good one, and we must win people over to it. We do not need propaganda campaigns; instead, we need reliable information, in particular with regard to claims that the Constitution will benefit people. We should not promise people the moon, but tell them what benefits the Constitution will and can bring. Mr Méndez de Vigo and Mr Corbett have summarised this in four key points. The Constitution will bring greater clarity and greater effectiveness to the European Union, as well as more democracy and accountability and more rights for citizens by means of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Providing information is not the same thing as refraining from criticism, but the first task for such criticism must be to make it clear that our product is, in principle, a good one. Finally, it has repeatedly been claimed that the public is not interested in a Constitution. When we held a publicity event at the University of Graz, however, the Constitution met with more interest than toadstools or dream interpretation. This should be an incentive for us to promote the Constitution to the public."@en1

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