Summit number 45 since 2010 – will it set the EU on a new course?

14-Dec-2016 @ 13:45

Syed Kamall Syed Kamall

Syed Kamall Syed Kamall

Syed Kamall Syed Kamall

Summit number 45 since 2010 – will it set the EU on a new course?

Ahead of tomorrow's EU summit, Conservative MEP Syed Kamall, leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, said that it should not pass up the opportunity to finally begin taking the EU in a new direction.

Warning that all people see of the European Parliament right now are proposals for free inter-rail passes and infighting about the next Parliament President, Kamall said: "Is it any wonder that people are angry with us? Angry at how out of touch we have become. Should we then be surprised when they turn away from the mainstream political parties?"

He said the EU should learn a key lesson from the migration crisis – that when it turns to a new direction, things can slowly start to improve.

Speaking in a debate with Commission President Juncker this morning, Mr Kamall said: "Since 2010, we’ve had 45 summits, each one, an opportunity to take the EU in a new direction. But how many times have we discussed the issues on this week’s agenda? Migration, security, economy and youth unemployment. How many more times until we actually solve them?

"Almost every summit seems to produce more of the same. Words and declarations to keep the controls set to autopilot, while struggling to tackle both the internal and external challenges.

"The challenge of building the right environment for companies to create jobs, the challenge of keeping our citizens safe and secure, the challenge of sustaining living standards we have come to take for granted.

"Imagine you are a young person living in Spain or Greece, with youth unemployment at over 40 per cent. You want the opportunity to get a job or at least an apprenticeship, you need the right economic conditions that allow businesses to create jobs for which you can apply, you dream of being able to build a better future for yourself, for your family, and for your community.

"But what do we in this house offer? Yes, we talk about the youth guarantee scheme, but here in the European Parliament, our proposed solution for all this is a free inter-rail pass. A great opportunity for middle class kids who could afford it any way, but not exactly the solution you are desperate for if you’re struggling – like many of your neighbours - to find a job.

"Is it any wonder that people are angry with us? Angry at how out of touch we have become. Should we then be surprised when they turn away from the mainstream political parties?

"The ECR Group of MEPs from 18 countries want to show that we understand peoples’ legitimate concerns, that we can work together within the EU and with western allies, that we can offer the EU a new direction.

"It has happened before. The EU has begun to change direction on the migration and refugee crisis. We finally started to recognise the importance of distinguishing between genuine refugees - fleeing war and persecution - and economic migrants, bypassing legal migration channels.

"When the EU eventually moved towards an approach that ECR and others have been calling for, what did we see? A crisis that is far from over, but which has become more manageable.

"So why don’t we try a new direction in a few more areas? On security, instead of thinking we have all the solutions in Brussels or Strasbourg, how about learning from what works in our local communities? Learning from anti-radicalisation projects in London, Aarhus or Mechelen? Learning from local jobs clubs and projects helping the long term unemployed into work? Learning from local projects that help refugees to integrate into their new surroundings in many towns and citizens?

"How about learning from what works in our countries? Asking security agencies how we can improve their confidence in their counterparts in other countries with whom they may be reluctant to share their hard gathered intelligence? How about creating jobs by cutting bureaucracy and liberalising employment laws? How about learning about integration from countries that have welcomed newcomers for centuries?

"Inside this building the talk is of the intrigue of who will be the next President of the European Parliament. But step outside this building and our voters won't be interested in that. They will be worrying about their jobs, their future, and their ability to pay their bills.

"In those few hours of the working lunch and working session at this week’s summit, let us hope that our leaders finally start to listen to the many alarms that have gone off in 2016, let us hope that our leaders address the legitimate concerns of our voters, let us hope that our leaders chart a new course and set sail for a new direction."

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