Pushing for Europe of people
MEPs debated on the EU’s future ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome
Maria Koleva, Strasbourg
17 March, 2017
Ten days before the celebration of 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, MEPs during their debate in Strasbourg on 15 March called for the need for Europe of people, Europe that is more fair, socially just and open to its citizens’ needs and concerns. The sitting, chaired by EP President Antonio Tajani, was focused on the outcome of the March European summit and the forthcoming Rome declaration on the future of the EU. The parliamentarians exchanged views with European Council President Donald Tusk, just reelected for a new mandate, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker, Italy’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Malta’s Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech.
Stating that Europe needs to be changed not weakened, President Tajani asserted that the anniversary of the signature of the Treaty of Rome is an opportunity to bring Europe closer to the citizens through concrete responses to their concerns like unemployment, terrorism and migration, by promoting our values in the world.
I will do everything in my power to make sure that the EU and the UK will be close friends in the future, European Council President Tusk told MEPs, noting that Britain will be dearly missed as an EU Member State.
Confirming that he doesn’t want a new 'iron curtain' in Europe, EC President Juncker warned against narrowing the future of Europe to a “two-speed” scenario, as there were a lot of comments on this in respect of the White Book.
PM Gentiloni clearly said “no” to two Europes, big and small, east and west, but “yes to one in which each country has its own level of ambition and can choose to join at any time, now or later, and everybody is involved in the common project”.
Reflecting on the future of Europe, Deputy Prime Minister Grech said that the Rome declaration must be followed up concretely, but stressed that there should be “no second class citizens, no quick-fix solutions, and no knee-jerk reactions.”
Talking on the way ahead, EPP group chief Manfred Weber emphasised that “we have to open the black box of Brussels and give people their say”, explaining that “the first thing we need to do is accept our responsibilities and explain what we decide, especially the national governments in the Council.”
On the future of the Union, S&D leader Gianni Pittella noted that “the buzzword of today, the supposed panacea for all ills, is a 'multi-speed' Europe.” But a multi-speed Europe is just a method - not a strategy. He underscored that unity must be our priority, but those who want to integrate further must be allowed to progress.