Callanan: Greece is evidence that abstract visions should give way to realism

15-Jan-2014 @ 16:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Speaking during a debate with Greek Prime Minister Samaras today, European Conservatives and Reformists Group leader Martin Callanan MEP said that the experience of Greece should teach the EU a lesson that abstract visions not rooted in reality are harming the European Union, and should be replaced by a more practical EU.

Mr Callanan was speaking in a debate as Greece takes over the rotating Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Paraphrasing Bill Clinton,he said that the 'Era of Big Europe is over', and instead argued that Greece was well-placed to prevent the EU from 'going supernova' by 'activating the reverse thruster on aspects of the EU project to reduce the Continent's political stress'.

Mr Callanan said:

“Greece, more than any other country, has suffered at the hands of grand, abstract visions that are not rooted in reality.

“In Greece, the federalists’ dream has became the nightmare of the Greek people.

“Many in this Chamber dream of a common currency – the ultimate symbol of European statehood. But they were not honest about the costs that would have to be expended should a crisis occur.

“The people of Greece are paying the price of these mistakes. Now, mistakes do happen. What is important is the lesson that welearn from those mistakes.

“In France, President Hollande is beginning to see how disastrous socialism can be. He’s almost embracing capitalism. He’s even calling himself a social democrat, rather than a socialist! Unfortunately his credibility is now gone. But in the EU I fear we are not willing to learn the lessons of the Euro crisis, and if we don't learn them, we are destined to repeat them.

“An article drafted by Jochen Bittner, the political editor of Die Zeit last week warned of the EU's supernova moment. If we still had a Cosmonaut in this parliament, as indeed we did until recently, he would tell you that a star reaches its greatest density just before it explodes. In his article Bittner rightly concludes that the best way to prevent this is to 'activate the reverse thruster for certain parts of the unification project as a way to reduce the Continent's political stress.'

“That is the direction the EU needs to go in now. It needs to listen to people across the EU who are calling for major change.

“Failure to take action now will risk the chances of the EU going supernova. But, thankfully there is a growing number of those of us who are talking about, and acting on, the way the EU needs to change.

“Let me quote from a recent article: “Some others want to change things, acting against the tide of the 'Brussels elite'. These are the modern, the courageous, the defenders of a realist Europe. David Cameron is one of them.” Of course, I'm quoting our colleague, the excellent Rachida Dati, from Mr Daul's own Party!

“Prime Minister, this is the agenda that I would have liked to have seen from the Greek Presidency.

“Your country is best-placed to sound the alarm bells for the EU; to warn of the costs of grand abstract plans; and to suggest a looser, freer Europe. But, unfortunately you have chosen business as usual.

“So let me address a couple of points raised in your priorities for the Greek Presidency.

“Firstly, the completion of Banking Union and the Single Resolution Mechanism. The agreement reached by Council on the SRM has found a fairly innovative way to protect Eurozone banks; and, more importantly, to protect tax payers from both Eurozone and non-Eurozone countries. This parliament would be ill-advised to hold this deal to ransom because some elements are intergovernmental in nature.

“We need to put what works before grand abstract concepts. With the SRM the Council has come up with an agreement that works and that we should support.

“And secondly, I look forward to the publication next week of the 2030 climate and energy package. From what I read we will also see guidelines, instead of legislation, on Shale gas exploitation. This is the right approach and it is what we should be doing.

“Prime Minister, just as Bill Clinton once said, 'the era of big government is over', today, the era of 'big EU' is over.

“If we can drop the abstract visions, lose the dogma and focus on a better, more practical Europe, then we will be able to tell the Greek people that their hard-fought lessons will not have been in vain.

“I wish you well in the months ahead, Prime Minister, and I truly hope that the Greek Presidency will remind Europe and the World that Greece is a nation of great people, has a great heritage and, with the right reforms at home and in the EU, a great future."

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