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97/2015 : 9 September 2015 - Judgments of the General Court in Cases T-82/13, T-84/13, T-91/13, T-92/13, T-104/13

European Court of Justice (News) - Wed, 09/09/2015 - 15:51
Panasonic Corp. and MT Picture Display Co. Ltd v Commission
The General Court reduces the fines imposed by the Commission on Panasonic and on Toshiba for their participation in a cartel on the European market for tubes for television sets

Categories: European Union

EU-Palestinian Authority

Council lTV - Wed, 09/09/2015 - 15:00

The EU has been working with the Palestinian Authority to build up the institutions of a future democratic, independent and viable Palestinian State living side by side with Israel and its neighbours.

Download this video here.

Categories: European Union

Refugee Crisis: Questions and answers

EEAS News - Wed, 09/09/2015 - 12:27
Categories: European Union

Japan’s defense policy – A new ‘normal’?

The FRIDE blog - Wed, 09/09/2015 - 12:24

When it comes to security in the Asia-Pacific, China’s strategic rise is often the first thing that comes to mind. But Japan’s changing security role both in the region and internationally is also of great significance.

Urawa Zero_CC BY 2.0

On 16 July 2015, the lower house of the Japanese Diet approved two bills that pledge to bring about the most substantial shift in Japanese security policy since the end of the Second World War. One of the bills eases current restrictions on the Japanese Self Defense Forces (JSDF) in so-called collective self-defense contingencies; the other promises to make it easier for the JSDF to engage in international peacekeeping.

This legislative package, backed by Prime Minister Abe, will continue to be debated by Japanese lawmakers until mid-September, as it requires the approval of the Diet’s upper house. Even if the bills become law, the JSDF will continue to be constrained by important legal caveats, owing to Japan’s pacifist constitution.

When it comes to collective self-defense, the JSDF would only be able to use force in response to a third party attack against an ally (e.g. the US) if that ally is performing duties deemed to be essential to Japan’s own survival. With regard to international peacekeeping, while the new legislation expands the remit of supportive functions the JSDF can play, their engagement will remain contingent upon UN approval – and armed combat will continue to be off limits. Those caveats notwithstanding, the proposed bills are an important boost to Prime Minister Abe’s plans to turn Japan into a more “normal” country in terms of its defense policy, and increase the country’s contribution to international security.

Perhaps most importantly, the proposed security legislation is likely to invigorate the US-Japan Alliance. The timing could hardly be better, given mounting strategic tensions in the Asia-Pacific, a region where Japan and the US see pretty much eye to eye. One key concern for Tokyo and Washington is the growing nuclear and missile threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). This has led to increased US-Japan cooperation on Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) in recent years.

More broadly, the US and Japan worry about China’s military rise, and ongoing efforts to strengthen its position in the East and South China Seas. A more specific concern for the US-Japan alliance is China’s development of so-called Anti Access Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities, by way of an expanding fleet of cruise and ballistic missiles, attack submarines and offensive cyber-weapons. These capabilities pose a risk to US naval assets in the Western Pacific, but also threaten the security of US military bases in Japan, which constitute the cornerstone of US force  and defense strategy in the Asia-Pacific region. In this regard, the recently revised US-Japan defense guidelines mention the Alliance’s need to address China’s A2/AD challenge, and call for greater US-Japan coordination in areas such as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, BMD, undersea warfare or cyber-security.

Moreover, Tokyo and Washington have recently decided to expand the geographical scope of their military cooperation. The old US-Japan defense guidelines, dating from 1997, allowed the JSDF to provide “rear area support” to US forces in “situations in areas surrounding Japan” (SIAS-J) – generally understood as relating to the Korean peninsula. However, the 2015 guidelines have removed the SIAS-J clause, to allow greater operational flexibility, and emphasize the “global” nature of the Alliance. This, for instance, will make it easier for the JSDF to engage in patrols over the South China Sea, where China’s construction of artificial islands has led to heightened tensions with surrounding countries. This would represent a boost to Abe’s efforts to expand Japan’s diplomatic and strategic ties in South East Asia. Vietnam and the Philippines stand out in this regard, in that they have both repeatedly called for greater Japanese engagement in South East Asia.

In addition, the prospect of easing restrictions on the JSDF would clear the way for a more meaningful strategic relationship with Australia and India, both bilaterally and in the framework of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), which also includes the United States. This, in turn, would help consolidate Japan’s position in the broader Indo-Pacific maritime corridor – a geographical space that is key to its energy security and economic prosperity.

As far as the EU is concerned, the promise of a more “normal” Japan also opens up a number of opportunities. In the context of their broader negotiations of a Free Trade Agreement and a Strategic Partnership Agreement, the EU and Japan are currently discussing a framework agreement that would allow Tokyo to participate in EU-led military (and civilian) operations. So far, existing legal restrictions on JSDF deployments overseas have constituted an obstacle to the negotiations – albeit one that might well be removed soon. In fact, the EU could prove to be an ideal partner for Japan to take its first peacekeeping steps as a more “normal” country – given its emphasis on transnational threats and low-intensity, policing operations, as well as the UN-friendly nature of its engagements.

The Indian Ocean is the most obvious target for EU-Japan security cooperation. That ocean straddles the Euro-Mediterranean Basin and the Asia-Pacific geopolitically, and is therefore of vital economic and strategic importance to both the EU and Japan. In fact, Japan is already contributing to global maritime security in the western Indian Ocean, through its participation in UN-sanctioned Combined Task Force 151, aimed at fighting piracy in the Gulf of Aden. Easing restrictions on the JSDF is likely to spur greater activity across the Indian Ocean.

Increasing Japanese involvement in the EU’s own anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia could represent a stepping-stone for EU-Japan cooperation at the operational level. Eventually, however, such cooperation should expand beyond the Gulf of Aden to cover other areas of the Indian Ocean. The strait of Malacca and the broader South East Asian maritime space stand out in this regard, given their vulnerability to piracy, their strategic importance to Japan – and the EU’s increasing interest in the area.

Luis Simón is associate fellow at FRIDE

Categories: European Union

President Tusk visits Israel

Council lTV - Wed, 09/09/2015 - 11:07

Donald TUSK, President of the European Counci, visits Israel to discuss how EU can help to stabilise the region and move forward with the Middle East Peace process. The management of the migration crisis is also on the agenda.

Download this video here.

Categories: European Union

96/2015 : 9 September 2015 - Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-160/14

European Court of Justice (News) - Wed, 09/09/2015 - 10:22
Ferreira da Silva e Brito and Others
The Portuguese State will have to pay compensation to the employees of TAP’s former subsidiary, Air Atlantis

Categories: European Union

Amendments 1 - 50 - Towards a European Energy Union - PE 565.196v01-00 - Committee on Foreign Affairs

AMENDMENTS 1 - 50 - Draft opinion Towards a European Energy Union
Committee on Foreign Affairs

Source : © European Union, 2015 - EP
Categories: European Union

Operation Europe

Public Affairs Blog - Tue, 08/09/2015 - 09:56

This is the “last chance” Commission…

This dramatic statement was pronounced by Jean-Claude Juncker in October 2014 to Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, during his formal presentation of the College of Commissioners and their proposed 2016-2020 programme.

Juncker to deliver his first ever SOTEU!

On Wednesday 9 September, Jean-Claude Juncker will head back into the Strasbourg hemicycle for his first ever speech on the so-called State of the European Union (or SOTEU). Although not as eagerly expected by citizens and the media as the original USA version, the SOTEU address has become a major milestone in EU politics since it was first launched by former President Barroso in 2008.

As the SOTEU traditionally addresses the EU’s key challenges and provides an opportunity to introduce major policy initiatives, President Juncker is expected to present his main accomplishments from his first year at the helm of the European Commission, as well as lay out his vision to address the burning issues that the EU is currently facing.

In front of him will sit a full parliament of Members who have shown signs of dissatisfaction with their once favourite candidate, their “spitzenkandidat”. Juncker indeed secured his appointment in large part thanks to the support of the European Parliament. A year later, after mostly focusing on Council matters such as Greece and the migration crisis, some might say that the European Parliament has been left in a vacuum with too little legislative work to do. To soften critics, Juncker will have to deliver a balanced speech, calling on all institutions to cooperate for the sake of the future of the EU.

FH Stethoscopes and tweezers to the ready – It’s time to play ‘Operation Europe’

The EU seems in no better shape than last year, and Juncker will need to convincingly perform a series of highly delicate operations to heal the life-threatening conditions Europe is currently fighting, including internal disorder, existing EU weaknesses and international conditions:

  • The first year of the Juncker team in office has resulted in a sharp decrease in legislative files, most notably in areas such as sustainability and environmental issues, where the EU traditionally leads the way. Looking at the 2016 European Commission Work Programme, what’s at the forefront of Juncker’s thinking?
  • Jobs and growth are the backbone of Juncker’s mandate. Will he use the speech to confirm that his Investment Plan has delivered on its promises, and has boosted Europe’s growth and created jobs? Although recent figures show that unemployment in the euro area is at its lowest since February 2012, is this trend looking set to continue, or will Juncker need to intervene further in order to succeed?
  • Through his vision of a more dynamic and effective institution, Juncker has turned the European Commission into a very political animal. But does the European Commission have broad enough shoulders to deliver on its President’s promises?
  • Juncker had already identified the “scores of immigrants” arriving at the gates of Europe as a major challenge. Recently calling for “collective courage”, Juncker is expected to present a new proposal that addresses the migration crisis, to show that Europe still has a heart and is willing to help those seeking a better life.
  • As opponents continue to vilify TTIP, Juncker will need a lot of elbow grease to progress on negotiations and ensure that the EU remains a competitive trade partner globally.
  • The Greek crisis is probably one of the only achievements of this Commission thus far. Although the euro zone Member States have been slapped on the wrist for allowing Greece into the euro zone in the first place and lost credibility for endless “absolute final last possible chance before ultimate and irrevocable catastrophe Councils” to avoid a ‘Grexit’, it seems Juncker’s former role as President of the Eurogroup has paid off in so far avoiding a ‘Grexit’. However, as the Greek crisis is far from being resolved, how will Juncker address the issue moving forward?
  • The European Union will rise and speak as one at the Paris Climate conference (COP21) next November. Criticisms concerning the low level of ambition for the conference are increasing, as are fears that COP21 will fail. If the EU wants to breathe life into the climate change debate, courageous proposals need to be made.
  • Recent attacks on European soil and the rise of ISIS in the Middle-East have led Juncker to propose reinforced cooperation mechanisms to protect European citizens. Will the European Commission manage to convince EU Member States to have the stomach to work together?
  • Juncker is not expected to go into the details of specific EU policies, however the promises of an EU Digital Single Market (DSM) regarding jobs and growth are too important not to mention. DSM and Juncker’s future legacy are joined at the hip.
  • The EU cannot be navel-gazing and has to play a central role in international foreign affairs. From the Chinese economic slowdown to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Juncker will have to keep Europe from falling on its knees.
  • President Juncker is unlikely to voluntarily touch upon Brexit, which feels like the sprained ankle of the EU… very painful and capable of making us fall any minute. However far right Members of the European Parliament might push Juncker on the issue, aiming to show once again that the EU is on the brink of toppling over.

The SOTEU address will give us a sense of the current mood within the European Commission and the European Parliament, as well as an understanding of what Juncker deems his main achievements are so far.

We will closely watch Dr. Juncker perform all these sensitive operations, following the live debate from the EP and online and will regularly take the pulse of our European patient. Follow us on Twitter (@fleishmanEU) to find out how Dr. Juncker is doing fixing patient Europe!

The Institutional Research Unit

Categories: European Union

Press release - Opening: migrants put Europe to the test

European Parliament (News) - Mon, 07/09/2015 - 19:05
Plenary sessions : Migrants who make it to Europe are setting it an historic test. Hundreds of thousands look to it for protection from war and persecution. The right response to this global challenge is not walls or deterrence, national selfishness or national measures, but a common asylum and refugee policy, President Schulz urged in his opening address. Plans for sharing asylum seekers among EU countries will be presented to Parliament on Wednesday by Commission President Juncker, he added.

Source : © European Union, 2015 - EP
Categories: European Union

Press release - Opening: migrants put Europe to the test

European Parliament - Mon, 07/09/2015 - 19:05
Plenary sessions : Migrants who make it to Europe are setting it an historic test. Hundreds of thousands look to it for protection from war and persecution. The right response to this global challenge is not walls or deterrence, national selfishness or national measures, but a common asylum and refugee policy, President Schulz urged in his opening address. Plans for sharing asylum seekers among EU countries will be presented to Parliament on Wednesday by Commission President Juncker, he added.

Source : © European Union, 2015 - EP
Categories: European Union

EU referendum: A nation divided

Ideas on Europe Blog - Mon, 07/09/2015 - 18:56

What a difference a summer makes. Only last June the Evening Standard’s front page lauded that Britain’s support for continued membership of the European Union was the highest ever. Yesterday, the Mail on Sunday’s front page turned that around, with a poll showing that for the first time most British people want to quit the EU.

The Mail cited the ‘migrant crisis engulfing the continent’ as a major reason for Britain’s change of direction on the contentious EU in/out issue. According to this latest poll, if a referendum was to be held tomorrow on whether Britain should remain a member of the EU, 51% of people would vote, ‘No’.

It means that the nation is pretty much split down the middle. Not ‘one nation’ as the new Conservative government promised the country, but clearly two nations almost exactly evenly divided on whether Britain’s future should be in the European Union or not.

In last June’s poll by Ipso Mori, 75% of British people were in favour of Britain’s continued membership of the EU, with only 25% wanting to leave. The poll meant that support for the EU was at its highest at the beginning of the summer since the European Community was renamed the European Union in 1993.

The Independent newspaper commentated then, “The latest poll will alarm Eurosceptic campaigners as the Government raises the prospect of an early EU referendum.”

Now, as the summer draws to a close, it’s the turn of pro-EU campaigners to feel alarmed. In the latest poll, by pollsters Survation, the gap between those who want to stay in the EU and those who want to leave has dramatically narrowed from 75/25 in favour to 51/49 against. The poll also revealed that if the “current migration crisis gets worse”, 22% in the ‘Yes’ to European camp might switch sides.

Commented today’s Mail on the latest poll, “Significantly, it is the first measure of public opinion since the Government changed the wording of the referendum question, lending weight to the claims that the new phrasing boosts the chances of victory for the Out campaign.”

Last May the new Conservative government announced that the referendum question would be, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?”

But following advice from the UK’s Electoral Commission, the referendum question is now going to be amended to, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” It means that instead of a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer, voters will be asked to answer ‘remain’ or ‘leave’.

The Survation poll was the first one which gauged the public’s opinion in response to the new referendum question.

It’s thought likely that the referendum will be held this time next year, and since the mood of the nation has changed so dramatically over the summer, it might yet change again in the space of twelve months. So both the ‘remain’ and ‘leave’ campaigners have all to play for. It’s likely to be one of the most hotly contested political campaigns in living memory.

Leaving the European Union is a right of every member; no country was forced to join the European Union and all members are free to leave. The rules of leaving are set out in the Treaty of European Union Article 50.

If Britain does decide to leave the European Union, it will be the first time that a member state will have left, although in 1975 Greenland left by default when it won independence from Community member Denmark. In a subsequent referendum, Greenland voted against membership.

Britain’s departure wouldn’t happen overnight as there would be a period of ‘exit’ negotiations which could take up to two years, although commentators believe that there would be many more years of uncertainty on a wide range of issues.

For example, what would be the status of EU migrants living in Britain and British migrants living across the EU? There have been plenty of suggestions, but nobody yet can know for sure because negotiations to leave haven’t taken place.

Also, Britain’s trade agreements that are currently ‘legislated through the European Union would have to be individually re-negotiated with each of the world’s countries. Regarding ‘free trade’ that Britain currently enjoys with the rest of the EU, in theory that would be lost upon leaving the EU and we may be back to customs duties and import/export tariffs.

UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, is currently negotiating with other EU heads of states to agree changes to Britain’s membership of the EU, including a proposal to curtail ‘free movement of people’, a core tenet of the EU that gives all EU citizens the right to live, work, study or retire in any other EU or EEA state.

Today the Mail reported that relations between Mr Cameron and Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, were not exactly getting closer. According to a new book being serialised by the paper, ‘Cameron at 10’ by Anthony Seldon and Peter Snowdon, Merkel accused Cameron at a private dinner at 10 Downing Street of being ‘too forceful’ in demanding concessions from the rest of the EU.

She is reported to have told the Prime Minister that was why, “we all hate you and isolate you”. Mr Cameron was reported to have responded, “I could walk away from the EU.”

With probably a year to go before the referendum, both the ‘remain’ and ‘leave’ campaigns are limbering up for a blistering, all-out fight. The referendum is likely to be the defining moment for all those allowed to vote – which will not include most citizens here from the rest of the EU, but will include citizens with leave-to-remain in the UK from Britain’s ex colonies. The outcome of the referendum will affect the country’s future for decades or maybe hundreds of years to come.

Unless something dramatically occurs to change my mind by the day of the referendum, I will be voting for Britain to ‘remain’ in the European Union.

But I do think it’s important that both sides of the argument are carefully listened to. The issue is too important for anybody to answer the question, “should we stay or should we go?” without careful consideration of all the implications.

Other articles by Jon Danzig:

To receive regular updates on this and other ongoing stories, please click the ‘Like’ button on my new Facebook page: Jon Danzig Writes

The post EU referendum: A nation divided appeared first on Ideas on Europe.

Categories: European Union

Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk

European Council - Mon, 07/09/2015 - 17:59

Monday 7 September 2015
20.30 Keynote speech at the Bruegel Annual Dinner (Brigittines Performing Arts Centre)

Tuesday 8 September 2015
Visit to Israel

17.00 Meeting with President Reuven Rivlin
19.30 Joint press statements with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed by working dinner

Wednesday 9 September 2015
Visit to Israel
09.00 Visit to the Holocaust History Museum Yad Vashem

Visit to Ramallah
13.30 Meeting with President of the Palestinian Authority Mohamud Abbas

Visit to Turkey
Meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan followed by press statements

Thursday 10 September 2015
Visit to Turkey

Meeting with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (time tbc)
Visit of a refugee camp

Friday 11 September 2015
Visit to Cyprus
11.20 Meeting with President Nikos Anastasiades followed by press statements
13:00 Official working lunch hosted by President Nikos Anastasiades
15:00 Meeting with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mustafa Akıncı

Categories: European Union

Speech by President Donald Tusk at the Bruegel Annual Dinner

European Council - Mon, 07/09/2015 - 16:58

Thank you for that introduction and those thoughts. I am very glad to be here this evening. First, I want to congratulate Bruegel on a successful decade spent shaping and influencing Europe's economic debate. Not only in Brussels, but in many European capitals. I am personally very happy that my own country, Poland, was one of the founding members of your think-tank. Congratulations once again and keep up the great work. 

To begin with, I must confess that I have a kind of an eccentricity, or at least a political extravagance: I am very proud of Europe and really happy that I was born on this very continent. Contrary to all of today's radicals, notoriously outraged intellectuals and the European Union's external adversaries, I still perceive Europe as the best place on Earth. I am also ready to risk being criticized by modern and progressive politicians and thinkers, when I declare my allegiance to liberal democracy, the free market and a political philosophy founded on common sense and moderation. This also means the readiness to protect Europe the way she is now, together with all her problems, the "decadent Europe", as she is called by her enemies, without a strong ideology, diverse and very difficult to govern, with her never ending negotiations, just like the Greek poleis, arguing with each other even in the face of the Persian threat. 

Surely the European Union is not the best of all possible worlds.  But for sure it is the best of the existing ones, and in my view, the best among those that humankind has seen across the centuries. Europe is relatively safe and prosperous, and shows respect for the rule of law and rights of individuals. The poor are offered help, universal education and medical care are provided for. We are not perfect, but are still doing better than at any other time or anywhere else. Europe has also found a way how to durably substitute conflict and violence for dialogue and consensus. 

What also fills me with great pride is that Europe is the only place where the idea of solidarity is treated as a supreme political principle, or even more, as the main purpose of her existence. Today's disputes about how to apply solidarity in practice, especially in the context of refugees, show us that although we are far from perfect, we address this idea with all seriousness. 

Is this not enough to defend Europe? We should defend Europe hic et nunc, here and now, the Europe that exists in reality, and not as an ideal appearing in the dreams and visions of ultra-European ideologists. We all know that beautiful ideas, in particular the idea of progress, the better they sound the more destructive potential they may have. As a historian and a man with a painful personal experience of ideological experiments, (I lived under a Communist regime for the first half of my life) I am driven by very firm convictions in this regard. 

Life has also taught me that values are more important than ideologies, while realistic pragmatism is more important than utopian visions. That is why today, in the face of different crises and threats, I propose that we abandon revolutionary thinking and reflect on how to strengthen the Union in its current framework. 

In that regard, let us recall where the European Union was this time ten years ago, when Bruegel started its work. In September 2005, the Union was in a deep political crisis after the rejection of the constitutional treaty by voters in France and the Netherlands. That period of constitutional confusion ended four years later when the Lisbon treaty was finally ratified in 2009. What was the reason for wasting those years? I believe that the European project had drifted too much towards political day-dreaming and too far away from real life. 

In today's Europe there are even more risks than what we experienced 10 years ago. It is therefore necessary to properly assess them but above all we need to see everything in the right proportions. Problems do not imply catastrophe, neither today nor tomorrow, and even the loudest choir of today's Cassandras will not change this fact. We must not give in to hysteria nor put faith in empty promises of the third way or the new order because this might actually lead us to the brink of disaster. 

Instead of revolutionary thinking and sudden systemic changes (for instance big treaty changes) we should use every possibility to improve and correct the current system. Most importantly we should try and apply the rules and principles existing today with greater determination and engagement. Following the current rules would help us to avoid the many problems of the Eurozone, as well as those resulting from the new migratory pressure. Step-by-step action is a fine European tradition. This is why I prefer evolution to revolution and that is how our community was built. I can understand people's impatience. We all would like things to happen quickly. But let us get a proper perspective. Compared to the dollar, the currency of a federal nation for over 200 years, the euro is the currency of sovereign nations and is only 16 years old. Therefore, it is a much more difficult project and so it demands much more patience from us all. 

How to improve our Economic and Monetary Union? The missing links towards realising this vision were pointed out by the 5 Presidents' report, prepared by the presidents of the European institutions. Tonight let me mention three key elements that in my view require special attention. These are: a proper European deposit insurance scheme, a true capital markets' union and a euro area system of competitiveness authorities. These are the natural next steps in the evolution of the EMU and are in my opinion, politically more realistic, although still far from easy, than any treaty change. 

Let us start with the common deposit insurance scheme that would complement the banking union and make it more compatible with monetary union. Being here tonight in the company of distinguished economists I will not dare to pretend that I know more about the economic benefits of such a scheme than you. And so I will refrain from explaining them in detail. But as a politician let me share with you one political benefit of this EMU reform. However difficult the reform may seem, it does not require a treaty change. I am well aware that some politicians, not least in Germany, would disagree but their claims are either an overstatement or an excuse not to change. Legal advice is clear on this. We can introduce the European deposit insurance scheme within the current legal framework. Therefore before asking for more ambitious changes let us give this one a try. I assume most economists would agree that introducing a common deposit insurance scheme will strengthen the EMU. And not only because it would help avoid the unfortunate scenes that we witnessed outside banks and ATMs in Greece earlier this year. 

If someone is not convinced then I invite them for a trip across Europe to check the chances of a harmonious treaty change ratification process. My bet is zero. Let us therefore try to introduce the changes that are politically realistic and at the same time very ambitious. I apologise for the simplification but a little piece of something is better than all of nothing. And I am convinced that the very real political obstacles that exist, such as concerns about moral hazard, can be overcome through a prudent design of the system. 

Another evolutionary step towards financial union is the creation of a single European capital market. Again I do not need to state in this room that an integrated capital market is key to making the single currency work better. 

Finally, I would like to refer to an idea that was also developed here at Bruegel, namely a Eurozone system of independent competitiveness councils. Divergences in competitiveness within the Eurozone contributed greatly to the recent crisis and still remain a serious issue. Therefore a renewed focus on this in each and every state, as well as at European level, deserves proper reflection. 

Let me use this opportunity to appeal to finance ministers, who are now working to implement the 5 presidents' report, to speed up the work on the ideas I have just mentioned. EMU can be reformed now and it is up to Member States to deliver. 

Tonight, I am making a plea for pragmatism and moderation. These are the very same principles that should guide our response to the other challenge facing Europe: the huge and increasing number of refugees. EU countries will not change their migratory policies overnight. But our attitude to refugees is in fact an expression of European solidarity inside of Europe. The countries that are not directly affected by this crisis and have experienced solidarity from the EU in the past should now show it to those in need. Today, it is truly a paradox that the biggest countries in Europe, like Germany and Italy, need solidarity from others. 

At the same time we should seriously address containing the uncontrolled migration by strengthening the borders and getting the keys to our continent back from the hands of smugglers and murderers. The two approaches of solidarity and containment need not be mutually exclusive. It would be unforgivable if Europe split into advocates of containment symbolized by the Hungarian fence and advocates of full openness voiced by some politicians as the policy of open doors and windows. 

Today, I call on all EU leaders to redouble their efforts, when it comes to solidarity with the members facing this unprecedented migratory wave. Accepting more refugees is an important gesture of real solidarity but not the only one. An enormous effort is also demanded of the European institutions. Humanitarian efforts to contain migratory flows will require much greater engagement from Europe. It means a major increase in spending. When we talk about new reception centres, better protection of the borders or development aid for the countries outside the EU, much more money will be needed. The consultations I have had with the leaders in the recent days seem very promising and their pledges clear. Crucial in this matter will be cooperation with third countries. This is the reason why I am going to visit Turkey and organise a summit on migration in Malta with the African countries. But let us have no illusions that we have a silver bullet in our hands to reverse the situation. The present wave of migration is not a one-time incident but the beginning of a real exodus, which only means that we will have to deal with this problem for many years to come. Therefore it is so important to learn how to live with it without blaming each other. Also, we should not feel ashamed of our emotions. Compassion is one of the foundations of solidarity, but in order to be able to help others we ourselves must be pragmatic at the same time. We are now experiencing one of the most classical political dilemmas, that is a conflict between the protection of our borders and solidarity towards the refugees. Wise politics doesn't mean having to choose one value over the other, but to reconcile the two to the degree possible. In this case pragmatism should be the First Commandment. 

My background makes me incurably suspicious of political actors offering illusions to the naïve. I grew up with the consequences of that kind of politics. I have been a politician for 25 years and I can assure you that this is a time when those on the political extremes will waste everyone's time by promising the impossible. That includes those populist parties that call the Eurozone "a mousetrap" and advocate undoing reforms that Europe needs. It also includes those who promise zero immigration and tell their voters that they can shut out the world if they get elected. 

Democratic capitalism is still the best model of organising the economy because - unlike rigid ideology - it does not break in tough times, it adapts to its environment. The best proof of this is the unique experience of my country and its clear success in the last twenty five years where we undertook   permanent actions to reconcile democratic capitalism with solidarity. And please let us not forget that we were coming out of a much harder crisis than the Greek one. (My point of view is that of a practitioner not a theoretician.) 

Pragmatic European leadership, both on the level of national states and pan-European institutions, must focus on practical solutions. Problems that we encounter presently can be overcome on condition that they do not become an excuse to turn Europe upside down. Equally important are mutual loyalty and solidarity among European players. 

On every issue on today's agenda: migration, the Greek crisis, war in Ukraine, terrorism, a potential Brexit; we take action, which - if only we are sufficiently loyal to one another and stand united - will bring about positive results. We will continue to live with the problems longer than we would like to - but this is not the reason to question our European principles. 

We need to think about our Europe with greater tenderness and patience. We need to protect her not only against external threats when they appear, but also against internal temptations for revolutionary and total changes. The European Union certainly needs to adjust and improve itself, and it must do so constantly, but under no condition should we undermine the very essence of Europe or the political and legal norms of the Union. In that respect, our patience will achieve more than our force in these times, as Edmund Burke once said. Thank you.

Categories: European Union