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Martin Schulz: "In Europe, we lack imagination" and "leadership"

On Europe’s Day, CNA reflects the conference the President of the European Parliament gave in Barcelona last week. The German politician emphasised the importance of the Mediterranean Basin and its great economic potential; the historical moment we are living due to the Arab Revolution; the lack of leadership in Europe and importance of working for a strong European Union in order stay at the forefront of the political scene.

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09 May 2012 10:36 PM

by

Irene García Pérez

Barcelona (CNA).- Last week, in a lecture coorganised by the Foundation Catalunya Europa and the Foundation RBA, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, finished his tournée in Barcelona. In order to coincide with Europe Day, CNA aims to reflect the main ideas behind Schulz\u2019 conference in the Catalan capital. The German socialist leader emphasised the importance of the Mediterranean Basin and its great economic potential; the historical moment we are living due to the Arab Revolution; the lack of leadership in Europe and importance of working for a strong European Union in order stay at the forefront of the political scene. The meeting took place in the headquarters of the leading publishing company RBA Group, and counted on the presence of important Catalan Socialist figures, such as Pasqual Maragall former President of the Catalan Government, who had been for years Olympic Mayor of Barcelona and is nowadays the President of the Foundation Catalunya Europa. Former Catalan Minister of Economy and Knowledge, Antoni Castells, opened the lecture. Afterwards, the spokesperson of the Catalan Socialist Party in the Catalan Parliament, Miquel Iceta, dedicated some words to the figure of Martin Schulz.


The Mediterranean, one of the richest areas in the world

Martin Schulz made it quite clear that Europe is missing the opportunity for prosperity that the Arab Revolution may bring to the Mediterranean. According to the President of the European Parliament, \u201CEurope lacks imagination and is only concerned about itself and on centring the debate on its internal affairs. Meanwhile, many countries have overcome dictatorships\u201D.

In a Mediterranean metropolitan city such as Barcelona, we should look further, in Schulz\u2019 words.  \u201CPeople from the other side of the Mediterranean know that we talk a lot and do little\u201D, said the President of the European Parliament referring to the EU reaction to this popular rebellion. \u201CWe say congratulations for the revolution. And then our Ministers cut their financial cooperation\u201D.

For Schulz, Europe holds a key position in helping these countries develop infrastructures and in this way guarantee the consolidation of democracy in the area. It\u2019s a win-win game, since Europe would be better off if it could only be \u201Cmore creative\u201D and take advantage of all possibilities the Mediterranean can offer, \u201Cone of the areas with the most economic potential in the world\u201D. European leaders have not understood this yet, whereas Chinese leaders definitely have, stated the German politician. Schulz explained that the Governor of the Chinese Central Bank told him that the problem with Europeans was that we don\u2019t look at the map.

We must be careful, Europe can fail

\u201CWhy aren\u2019t we brave enough? It isn\u2019t about a lack of chances in Europe. It is about a lack of leadership\u201D commented the European President. According to his point of view, when something works, it is a national success, but when it does not, it is a European failure. \u201CEuropean countries think first in a national key, at a time when national states are at the limits of their capacity\u201D.

For Schulz, nothing lasts necessarily forever. Europe can fail. That is why it is important to be united to face three main challenges that a single country cannot face:

- International Commercial Relationships: If Europe wants to maintain its competitiveness, it needs the power of its 27 countries and its population. Trade is done by regions, nowadays.

- Climate Change: If China and India, for instance, start to pollute at the same level we have been doing for decades, that would be a disaster. A single country cannot make offers of cooperation to these regions.

- Currency and taxes: How could the German mark or the Spanish peseta compete with the dollar or the Chinese yuan? The euro is necessary. And also, it is unfair that the financial markets, where highest profits are generated, are a sector that pays no taxes. The imposition of a 0.05% tax on financial investment, transactions and products would report a revenue of  \u20AC50.000 million for the European economy. With that money it would be possible to lend hope to young people.

As a European socialist parliamentarian, Schulz emphasised that he didn\u2019t want Vietnamese salaries in Spain, but human rights in Vietnam. 

European Germany, not the other way around

Paraphrasing German writer Thomas Mann, the President of the European Parliament stated that he did not want a \u201CGerman Europe\u201D, but a \u201CEuropean Germany\u201D. Schulz also recalled the words of the German Social Democratic politician Helmut Schmidt, former chancellor of West Germany from 1975 to 1982. According to Schmidt, Germany is the centre of the Continent, and every time that the centre gets strong and the periphery gets weaker, the centre has to make a decision: imposing its power to impose its will on the rest or take advantage of its power and help the periphery rise. Every time that Germany has chosen the first option, it has been a catastrophe both for Germany as well as for the world. Schulz stresses that, as far as Germany is a great exporting country, it has interests in making its partners stronger.

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  • Schulz with Fathallah Sijilmassi, Union for the Mediterranean's Secretary General, whose headquarters are in Barcelona (by ACN)

  • Schulz with Fathallah Sijilmassi, Union for the Mediterranean's Secretary General, whose headquarters are in Barcelona (by ACN)