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Hänsch Klaus - 19 gennaio 1995
Farewell tribute to Jacques Delors

SUMMARY: In his address, farewell tribute to the Commission President, Jacques Delors, Dr Klaus Hänsch, President of the European Parliament, underlines that "The dynamic economic and trading power that we have now become must grow into a political union". (Strasbourg, Thursday, 19 January 1995)

Friends and fellow Members of Parliament,

Mr President of the Council,

Mr President of the Commission, Jacques Delors,

Before we begin the formal speech-making, I should like to take the opportunity to greet two of my predecessors as President of Parliament, Pierre Pflimlin and Egon Klepsch.

On 14 January 1995, Mr Delors, you addressed the European Parliament for the first time in your capacity as Commission President.

Today, in an expanded and, as far as seating is concerned, rearranged Parliament, we welcome you to what has been your accustomed place for the past ten years.

What a long way the European Union has come under your leadership! The cause of European unification has given rise in the past, and is still giving rise at present, to repeated expressions of pessimism, faint-heartedness, and despair. One need only look back over the ten years of your presidency to see that all the prophets of doom were wrong.

When you took office in 1985, the European Community seemed to have no future. The buzz word in those days was 'Eurosclerosis'. People on the other side of the Atlantic used to brandish it in our faces, sometimes giving a pityingly sarcastic smile as they did so. And we Europeans started to believe it ourselves.

In those days of pessimism and European self-doubt you began to bring your will to bear. You set out to achieve something which had long been written in the Treaties but of which everyone had hitherto fought shy: you set out to complete the European internal market.

The venture was certainly not one which met with the undivided approval of the broad mass of Europeans in the Member States, still less with their enthusiasm. We can remember the doubts, worries, and anxieties that formed the backdrop to many of our discussions with our electors.

Today, virtually all of the Directives and Regulations required to complete the internal market have been adopted, and most have entered into force.

The doubts, worries, and anxieties of that time are now forgotten. That fact alone is a measure of the success achieved in completing the internal market, an enterprise on which you stamped your authority more firmly than any other single person.

Ten years ago Greece had just joined the European Communities. We were a Community of Ten. The accession of Spain and Portugal still lay in the future. And once again there were misgivings, worries, and distrust: Would enlargement be possible to cope with? Would it destroy the acquis communautaire? Would widening and deepening go hand in hand or would one obstruct the other?

Since then, as a result of the Single European Act, followed by completion of the internal market, and, most recently, the Maastricht Treaty, we have taken some steps on the way leading from economic union to a European political union.

Our Union now encompasses 15 Member States, and we have learnt that widening and deepening were not mutually exclusive.

The decade following the last enlargement was a period of farreaching institutional progress, when the European Parliament was strengthened and the Union moved towards greater cohesion and solidarity.

Let us not be timorous: in a Union which, of its own free will, has expanded to include 15 Member States, consolidating unity and strengthening democracy are not just necessary things to do. They are also possible and they will succeed.

Mr President, you know even better than we do that the job has not been completed. Our European Union is not yet in a position to meet the challenges of the wider Europe. It will be our task to put it in that position.

You described yourself in 1985 as an engineer on the building site of Europe. You have been the builder of the internal market and economic and monetary union and have blazed a trail for totally free movement of capital and goods, of labour and services. That notwithstanding, you have complained more than once that the Europe of social justice is lagging far behind the Europe of the market. Like you, we deplore that fact.

The vast majority in this Parliament, cutting across the opposing political groups, are convinced that European unity cannot be completed without social justice.

Our European Union needs to assert itself in the world. You have made that call time and again. But you did not mean Europe to seal itself off from other peoples and continents. Instead, you wanted it to address itself to and show understanding for the problems of the world.

Europe will be open, but not supine. That was your guiding principle. It should remain our guiding principle.

The European Union can hold its own in the world. It can do so by availing itself of its economic might, the skills of its workers, the inventiveness of its scientists and engineers, the enterprising spirit of its business community, and the creativity of its artists. It can do it, if that is what we want it to do. That was the message of President Mitterrand's forceful, impassioned words two days ago. That was what you too wanted and why you deserve our gratitude.

The White Paper on growth, competitiveness, and employment is just the most recent outstanding example of your constant endeavours to reconcile economic performance and social justice and of your determination to make the Union competitive on the world market and acceptable to the people. For a Europe that fails to create new jobs, marginalizes the poor, and neglects to support the weak has no future and indeed is not worth the effort.

You have the knack of skilfully weaving policy goals into policy packages. Had it not been for such packages, the Union would have become entangled more than once in the snares of national small-mindedness and short-sighted preoccupation with particular interests. The packages bear your name, and each has been given a Roman number: Delors I, Delors II, following one after the other like the kings in European history. That is no coincidence. On the contrary, it is a measure of respect for your pioneering political work.

It is true that you were not alone. Your Commission was - just as the new Commission will be - a collective body. That is why I should also like to express my thanks to the outgoing Commissioners who served with you, namely:

Henning Christophersen,

Bruce Millan,

Ioannis Paleokrassas,

Antonio Ruberti,

Peter Schmidbauer,

Christiane Scrivener,

René Steichen, and

Raniero Vanni d'Archirafi.

The Commission President-designate, Mr Santer, has apologized to MrDelors and myself for his absence. He has an appointment today with the French Prime Minister at which his presence is indispensable.

Mr President of the Commission, at the midpoint in your term of office an empire collapsed, a political ideology disintegrated, long-established European States, having won back their freedom, embarked on sweeping reforms, and the Germans once again attained united statehood.

You were quicker than other leading European Union politicians to understand what was happening in Germany and Europe in the autumn of 1989 and you grasped the deeper implications more readily. Not only did you accept German reunification as 'inevitable', you welcomed it and actively sought to bring it about.

The fact that a secure place has been found for the reunited Germany within the Union is certainly not to your credit alone. However, if the process was completed so rapidly and without major political problems, then it was due in large part to your efforts.

In achieving this goal, you showed that you were not concerned solely with the political calculations needed to ensure balance in Europe, but that your vision also extended to solidarity between peoples, whereby the people of Germany would share the same rights and duties within a united Europe. Everyone here today will understand that, as a German, I wish to express my particularly warm thanks to you as you now take your leave of us.

When you became President of the Commission, you were a well-known and recognized politician. It is true that we knew you as a brilliant Minister for Finance in the French Government, but we knew you even better as a former colleague.

Like some of us here today, including myself, you were first elected to the European Parliament in 1979. You were immediately entrusted with the office of chairman of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. During the two years when you headed this committee, the clarity of your analyses, the cogency of your arguments and the steadfastness of your resolution were plain to see.

In addition, you offer a shining example to new young colleagues in this House of what a Member of the European Parliament can become. We are proud that you began your European career as a Member of our Parliament.

Relations between the Commission under you and this Parliament were not always easy. I need hardly say that this was due above all to the different roles the Commission and Parliament are required to play in the European Union.

Moreover, ten years could only have gone by without conflicts between us, had you not been the political dynamo, tactician and strategist that you are and we would have been a Parliament failing in its duties.

In speaking of our conflicts on a day like today I cannot neglect to mention your temperament, which did not serve as a calming influence in every situation.

Nevertheless, during all the conflicts that arose between Parliament and the Commission, this institution never had the slightest reason to doubt the power of your vision and the strength of your determination to lead the countries and peoples of Europe and their governments towards greater cohesion and to create a Union that is much more than a large market. That is why you have always enjoyed a support in this House that goes beyond any party and group allegiances.

You have enjoyed our support because the European Parliament - like yourself -remains convinced that a selfish Europe, a Europe without greater balance between North and South and between rich and poor would not be worth the efforts which you and many of us have devoted to the European course.

We supported you because, like you, we believe that solidarity must continue to play a central role in European policy, with both its social, democratic and Christian roots.

You know, Mr President, and we ought to know, that it is not enough simply to manage Europe. The dynamic economic and trading power that we have now become must grow into a political union - a great power, as you have frequently said. And like ourselves, you too want to see that power discover its European soul.

Only a strong political union can give a social, environmental and political dimension to the dynamics of the market place.

As you yourself have said, this is the characteristic feature of Europe which distinguishes us from other societies and from other regions of the world. It is this unique link between individual freedom and collective responsibility that is at the heart of our European identity.

You have become a great European not despite, but because of the fact that you are a good Frenchman. You are aware - and you have often remarked -that France can only maintain its importance and its lustre within and alongside Europe. Let us not forget that the same is true for each of us and for each of our peoples.

2000 years ago the citizens of Rome honoured the exceptional services of their fellow citizens not with offices and decorations but with the phrase 'Bene meritus es de re publica' (You have served the Republic well). Today, in our Union, there is still no more honourable expression.

Mr President, ten years ago you rose to your feet to deliver your first speech before the European Parliament.

Today, the European Parliament rises to its feet before you ...

To affirm that Jacques Delors has served Europe well.

Today, a great President of the Commission is leaving his place in the European Parliament but he is assured of a secure place in the history of the European Union.

Argomenti correlati:
Parlamento europeo
Commissione europea
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