tv Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar CSPAN January 29, 2018 9:52pm-10:21pm EST
thank you very much. president, vice presidents, commissioner hogan, the political groups, members of the european parliament, dear friends. i want to say it's a really great privilege to be the first speaker in your series of debates witheds had of government on the european union. mr. president i believe that the european union is at decisive point now in our history. despite all of the upheavals in recent years, the rise of
poppialism and euro skepticism, we meet today in solidarity and with the are enrenewed sense of purpose. the european ideal has always been inspired by sense of optimism and belief in a better future. and while that ideal has been tested, it hasn't been broken. and based on the achievements of the past, we have a renewed appetite to face the challenges of the future. back in 1947 representatives from 16 countries met in paris to discuss how, in the words of john monet, they could resist economic decline and preserve political freedom. [ speaking foreign language]
>> translator: in 1947 we had the importance of resisting economic decline and preserving peace talks for freedom. we came to see the wisdom of his predictions that there was no future for the people in europe other than in the union. and this became clear shortly afterwards. small countries played a significant role in the development of europe. during the 1950s, an important architect also played a significant role in creatinging the european, coal and steel community and by holding the conference in is sicily. when asked about the presence of european politicians who had
this meeting in 1965, a leading british politician dismissed this by saying that they were simply taking part in archeological excavations. however, these excavations went on to provide the foundation for the treaty of rome. we can see the strength of the european legacy. they had a vision that was so important. we can see this in the work of helmet cole and his believes as well. he saw the importance for quality among smaller countries as well. we can also see this through the vision who believes there needs to be a deeper meaning to europe, a soul for europe, otherwise it whole project would fail.
he worked in creating a single currency for europe, the euro and that is a very significant legacy. his challenge to all of us is that we have to provide greater meaning to europe now. >> promise of a better future has motivated people to work for the european ideal since the very beginning. and speaking in this chamber today, i'm reminded of one of the greatest figures in irish politics and indeed one of the greatest figures from northern ireland whose birthday is tomorrow and who served as a member of this great parliament for 25 years. he spoke many times about the symbolism of the bridge not too far from here, connecting strasburg to cal just across the border in germany. he spoke about how easy and ordinary it was to walk across that bridge and given europe's dark history how remarkable and
profound that ordinariness was. in the european union he saw a model and a vision for lasting peace. however improbable could be fostered and built. and had a model of people working together with a shared purpose and endeavor. spilling their sweat instead of their blood as he put it could provide an inspiration for my own country. today there is a peace bridge, crossing the river foil, bringing together the divided communities in the native city in northern ireland. a bridge that european union helped build. dear friends, it's hard to imagine the good friday agreement being made without our shared membership of the european union and in ireland we're having to contemplate our future without that foundation which made it possible. that's why the government which i lead has been so determined to protect the good friday
agreement in all its parts and all that flows from it. and it's why we've insisted that there can ift be return to a hardboarder on our island. no new barriers to the people or its trade and it's why we're so deeply grateful to the remarkable solidarity and support from other member states. it is everything we hoped for and proof positive of why small countries benefit so much from membership of this union. and so the irish people are profoundly grateful for the unswerving support of this parliament. and in particular i want to thank your president, your brexit coordinator, the leader of the group and all of the other political groups that have been so supportive. the solidarity of the parliament has been matched by the commission and the counsel.
i'd also like to extend my thanks to the president, the lead commissions negotiator and to counsel president. the european union has consistently recognized the unique position of northern ireland and the unique position it finds itself given the decision the england to leave the european union. the majority of ireland voted to remain in the european union, want to remain in the single market. and it's likely that the majority of people living in northern ireland will remain european citizens after brexit because of their unique status under the good friday agreement, which allows them to be british citizens, irish citizens or both. the break through achieved before christmas had means the united kingdom is guaranteed.
that whatever the future relationship is, a hardboarder on the island will be avoided and the common travel area and all the associated rights that flow from it will be maintained. as the negotiations move forward in to phase two, we'll continue to rely on your support and solidarity. as we work to insure that what has been promised in theory is delivered in practice. and there can be no back sliding on tis. so it's important that these commitments are fully reflected in the legal text of the withdrawal agreement and firmly embedded in the future relationship with the european union, whatever shape that ultimately takes place. and for my parted i hope that new relationship that exists between the united kingdom and european union is as close and deep as possible but consistent with the needs of the union to protect our internal markets and customs union. mr. president, i was born
european, as had part of a new generation of political leaders who were born after our countries joined the european union or its predecessors. we treasure what has been achieved and share the vision of the founders for further entegration and cooperation. while i've always lived with it benefits, i've never taken them for granted. i very much granted what was hard won by past generations and what they sacrificed for us. that vision delivered peace in europe and opened the door to peace and prosperity in my own country. these values of solidarity, partnership which are central to the european project have brought ireland from the position of being one of the least developed states to one of the most prosperous today. and for us europe enabled our transformation from be on the
prolifry to it common european home which we helped build. the promise unlocked the potential and allowed us to take our place among the world. and other member states, i believe we have a particular responsibility now to lead in the future of europe debate. we have much to offer and much to give. and i firmly believe it is our responsibility and relish it opportunity. so i think weicide approach, all of us, the debate on the future of europe with a positive attitude, talking about what we want to achieve for our citizens, rather than what we want to block or resist. many of the policy challenges we face are increasingly global and they cannot be met by nation states acting alone. issues such as uncontrolled mass migration, cyber security, international trade, the
regulation of medicines and major corporations, many of whom are now bigger than states cannot be solved by 28 countries coming up with 28 different solutions. in unity there is security. in cooperation there is strength. as we say in the irish language, there's no strength for that being together. so we should, i believe, welcome those who aspire to and ready to take on the responsibilities and obligations of membership. the prospects of membership of the european union can be a powerful motivator for those who seek to build peace and freedom and prosperity. and these countries i believe should be given the pathway to membership. mr. president, i believe that in the europe of the future, all european countries and all member states will be small states. even though perhaps they don't
realize it yet. and you only need look at the list of the top 60 cities in the world in terms of population. only one of the top 60 is in the european union and is currently getting ready to leave and in terms of population now, there is only one country in europe in the top 20 in the world and its population is falling. so in a global context, we are very much now a union of small countries and i know the population doesn't equate to economic power or military strength but for had can be no doubt these are also shifting east and south globally. so i think we need stick together if we're to protect what we have and continue to export our values and world view. [ applause ]
a europe worth building is a europe worth defending. the threats we face in the 21st century include cyber tear arism uncontrolled mass migration and human trafficking. we want to be involved in european actions in all of these. we definitely can't do it all on our own. participating in u.n. peace keeping operations and defense policy operations and we are not members of nato. so we will participate in a way that is consistent with those traditions as other countries will too. president, i believe the europe of the future must do four things. first of all weicide continue to do what we currently do well. secondly we should focus on the big new challenges facing europe
and its citizens. third, we should devolve some powers back to member states, municipalities and member regions and engage more citizens in direct democracy. ireland, as you know has moved from being a net ben fishiary to one that is now a net contributor. nonetheless, we're opening to contributing more but only things that contribute to the advancement of the european deal. for example structural funds to enable them to unlock their economic potential as we did. the european union should continue to fund well programs and policies that work and has stood the test of time such as the commoning ing a ragricultu and the european investment bank among others. budgets for these in my view
should be protected. europe can do new things and europeicide do new things. but new programs require new money. ireland is a founder member of the euro and the single market and we uramong the first to open our labor market. we now want to see the completion of the single markets and the digital single market and above all a single market that serves interests of all our citizens and not just corporations. so i want to commend this parliament on the work it has done to make the lives of europeans better. by removing roming charges in the european union. that helps bring people together. your recent action on credit card charges and like wise, i commend the way you've championed air passenger rights. now is the time to fulfill the promise of the single market in
other areas. for example take financial services, insurance, mortgages, loans. so they can get cheaper loans and insurers if need be. i'd ask the parliament to work on this and it would be very much welcome by our citizens. i also believe we should work closely on it cost of medicines. this could save billions for taxpayers. bring up funding to insure modern medicines are available at the same time in every country and countries are not played off against each other. so let's pool the buying power of 4en had 50 million people to do so. i also believe in more free trade agreements and in completing monetary union and i believe in a banking union to protect citizens savings on a pan european basis and reduce
expoesher to individual member states and i think a capitol markets union would provide the building blocks across europe. in terms of improving democracy within the eu, i support a europef wide list for the european parliament. i'd like to get people in caves and naples talking about the same election choices. perhaps that's an ambitious idea. but i think it's one we should strive for. and i believe we should make permant -- and democ rus it choosing a candidate for other positions in the eu. and let's establish as well a common asylum policy and system to replace the current system which we all know is not working. too few countries have shoaledered the responsibility
of providing refugees with a fresh start in europe. we can all do more and we must. and let's put fire back into the engine of our social europe by following through on the proclamation we issued last year on jobs, employment rights and pensions among other things. whatever our future holds, europe needs to be competitive economically. and one of the ways to insure this is by allowing competition among member states. and i think this is particularly important for prorifferal and less developed countries whose domestic markets are small and need if hadwainward investment. my strong view is theyicide be determined by national parliament and governments. but equally strong is my view that corporationsici s should p
their fair share of tax. and that's true -- that's true for american tech companies as it is true for european car manufacturers and international aerospace and defense companies. ireland has already taken steps to close loopholes in our tax laws and we'll do more in the years ahead but we strongly believe this should be done on an international basis as europe should not give advantages to our competitors on other continents by acting unilaterally. mr. president, as a community, we must also look outwards, offering leadership and partnership, especially with had it comes to africa. and i believe that europe must show much greater leadership on africa and i support the idea of an eu marshal plan for that
continent. we've already witnessed the terrible impact that chaos in syria and lebanon as had on people in those countries and its impact on europe. libya and syria are small countries. imagine what would happen if similar events were to unfold in massive countries with massive populations like egypt or nigeria. the consequences are too awful to contemplate for us and them. by contrast we can look east to asia and the successful developments of those countries that have transformed themselves from countries to which we gave aid to countries with which we now trade. so in the 21st century africa must succeed. it's in our interest and it's in theirs. so let's make it part of our mission as europeans.
i also strongly support the proportionality tasks force. it's interesting to me and many of us who travel the world that on many matters and issues u.s. states and canadian provinces and even municipalities have greater variation among themselves than the eu member states currently have. so do we have the balance right? not always. and does everything have to be harmonized and standardized? i don't think so. so in make decisions i think it's vital our citizens are ingauged. we've launched a citizens dialogue on europe and our starting point is to focus on the hopes and dreams of our citizens. we're undertaking a series of regional meetings and other initiatives between now and europe day on the 9th of may. and i strongly if krj other
countries to do the same. it's been an honor, a great unhaunh honor to speak to the european parliament on this hugely important topic on the future of europe. all of you have enormous political experience, insight, and knowledge. there's a mass of wisdom in this chamber and madge nations. and i believe it's the perfect place to debate our future as we move forward and to insure in the future parliaments and governments are more connected to each other. i know under guidance of the president, you've already started to discuss the issues in a thoughtful and productive manner and even before the commissions wide paper you adopted three resolutions on our paper. i hope this first debate will be lively and spontaneous. and i look forward to engaging with you during the course of
this session. the european union has always offered the promise of a better future. it's a future that will not be handed to us. we must work to create it. we can achieve a more perfect union and we can speak to europe's soul. our values like peace, friendship, justice and cooperation are the values we're committed to in advancing on the island of ireland within our european family and in our relations in the wider world. europe has been a great success and we owe its achievements, peace, individual rights, equality before the law to that political creativity and the friendship we've built together. i believe that europe is the outcome of one of the greatest acts of political creativity in human history and that same creativity and vision of the founders should drive our work today. the european ideal took flight in the second part of the 20th
century when people imagined a world joined by mutual interest, trust and affection. replacing one that was torn apart by jealousy, fear and animosi animosity. building on the great successes and achievements in the past, i believe with our imagination, with creativity, curage, we can provide a soul and a heart for europe. creating opportunities for all of our citizens and we can insure that european ideal that took flight in the last century will sore in the 21st. mr. president, i want to conclude with a few words in the first official language of my country. [ speaking foreign language]