From left to right:
Jacques Losèr, Gerhard "Auf Wiedersehen" Loser, Tony Winner
The remarkable speech (German version) prime minister Tony Blair gave to the European Parliament on 23 June 2005 is the very antithesis of the socialist and corporatist concept of Europe proposed by German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French president Jacques Chirac.
The issue is not between a "free market" Europe and a social Europe, between those who want to retreat to a common market and those who believe in Europe as a political project.
This is not just a misrepresentation. It is to intimidate those who want change in Europe by representing the desire for change as betrayal of the European ideal, to try to shut off serious debate about Europe's future by claiming that the very insistence on debate is to embrace the anti-Europe.
It is a mindset I have fought against all my political life. Ideals survive through change. They die through inertia in the face of challenge. ...
If Europe defaulted to Euro scepticism, or if European nations faced with this immense challenge, decide to huddle together, hoping we can avoid globalisation, shrink away from confronting the changes around us, take refuge in the present policies of Europe as if by constantly
repeating them, we would by the very act of repetition make them more relevant, then we risk failure. Failure on a grand, strategic, scale. This is not a time to accuse those who want Europe to change of betraying Europe. It is a time to recognise that only by change will Europe recover its strength, its relevance, its idealism and therefore its support amongst the people.
And as ever the people are ahead of the politicians. We always think as a political class that people, unconcerned with the daily obsession of politics, may not understand it, may not see its subtleties and its complexities. But, ultimately, people always see politics more clearly than us. Precisely because they are not daily obsessed with it. ...
Just reflect. The Laeken Declaration which launched the Constitution was designed "to bring Europe closer to the people". Did it? The Lisbon agenda was launched in the year 2000 with the ambition of making Europe "the most competitive place to do business in the world by 2010". We are half way through that period. Has it succeeded?
I have sat through Council Conclusions after Council Conclusions describing how we are "reconnecting Europe to the people". Are we?
It is time to give ourselves a reality check. To receive the wake-up call. The people are blowing the trumpets round the city walls. Are we listening? Have we the political will to go out and meet them so that they regard our leadership as part of the solution not the problem? ...
What would a different policy agenda for Europe look like?
First, it would modernise our social model. Again some have suggested I want to abandon Europe's social model. But tell me: what type of social model is it that has 20m unemployed in Europe, productivity rates falling behind those of the USA; that is allowing more science graduates to be produced by India than by Europe; and that, on any relative index of a modern economy - skills, R&D, patents, IT, is going down not up. India will expand its biotechnology sector fivefold in the next five years. China has trebled its spending on R&D in the last five.
Of the top 20 universities in the world today, only two are now in Europe.
The purpose of our social model should be to enhance our ability to compete, to help our people cope with globalisation, to let them embrace its opportunities and avoid its dangers. Of course we need a social Europe. But it must be a social Europe that works.
And we've been told how to do it. The Kok report in 2004 shows the way. Investment in knowledge, in skills, in active labour market policies, in science parks and innovation, in higher education, in urban regeneration, in help for small businesses. This is modern social policy, not regulation and job protection that may save some jobs for a time at the expense of many jobs in the future. ...
And since this is a day for demolishing caricatures, let me demolish one other: the idea that Britain is in the grip of some extreme Anglo-Saxon market philosophy that tramples on the poor and disadvantaged. The present British Government has introduced the new deal for the unemployed, the largest jobs programme in Europe that has seen long-term youth unemployment virtually abolished. It has increased investment in our public services more than any other European country in the past five years. We needed to, it is true, but we did it. We have introduced Britain's first minimum wage. We have regenerated our cities. We have lifted almost one million children out of poverty and two million pensioners out of acute hardship and are embarked on the most radical expansion of childcare, maternity and paternity rights in our country's history. It is just that we have done it on the basis of and not at the expense of a strong economy. ...
If we set out that clear direction; if we then combined it with the Commission - as this one under Jose Manuel Barroso's leadership is fully capable of doing - that is prepared to send back some of the unnecessary regulation, peel back some of the bureaucracy and become a champion of a global, outward-looking, competitive Europe, then it will not be hard to capture the imagination and support of the people of Europe. ...
Only one thing I ask: don't let us kid ourselves that this debate is unnecessary; that if only we assume 'business as usual', people will sooner or later relent and acquiesce in Europe as it is, not as they want it to be. In my time as Prime Minister, I have found that the hard part is not taking the decision, it is spotting when it has to be taken. It is understanding the difference between the challenges that have to be managed and those that have to be confronted and overcome. This is such a moment of decision for Europe.
The people of Europe are speaking to us. They are posing the questions. They are wanting our leadership. It is time we gave it to them. (emphasis added)
Any more questions, Gerhard?