Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear EPP Partners,
It is a great pleasure to participate at the 25th EPP Congress, and to be joining partners from our extended European political family. Our gathering is both necessary and timely.
I wish to thank President Daul, President ORPO and members of Kokoomus, for their gracious hospitality and the excellent organisation.
In view of next year’s elections and while deciding our own candidate, let us consider the significance of the moment and assess our role and responsibility.
Ahead of us, as leaders of EPP, a group whose roots run deep in the history of the European continent, we have demanding challenges. We are therefore bound to demonstrate leadership, commitment and determination.
First and foremost, we need to reconsider and reassess the effectiveness of our policies, the relevance of our leadership and their impact on our societies and peoples.
Which are the real needs of the Union of the 27? How relevant and close to its citizens is this Union? What and how can we do better? Which are the lessons learnt? Have we succeeded in building and maintaining effective channels of communication with our citizens?
I want to stress that I am quite happy that the Policies and Resolutions adopted yesterday meet the concerns of our citizens and provide answers to the above questions.
A strong and united Union, based on principles and values of the founding treaties, must remain the epicenter of all our policies and actions.
Being strong and united, despite the periodical turbulences resulting from either financial crisis, Brexit or the migration crisis, remains the best avenue to safeguarding all principles and values that this Union historically stands for: promoting peace, security, solidarity and prosperity to its people.
Born from the ashes of World War II, this Union has been the answer to division and horror. It brought back the dream of prosperity through the fulfilment of the single market and the four freedoms, offering its citizens a unique peaceful environment to live, work and prosper. Let us not underestimate these achievements.
History is, however, there also to teach us lessons, to guide us in addressing deeper challenges. Sometimes we need to revert to our raison d’etre, to find the best way forward.
Let us consider some of these challenges, starting with the unprecedented humanitarian migration crisis where we need a more sustainable migration regime, firmly based on solidarity and burden sharing. Proportionally to its size, Cyprus suffers a huge burden due to its geographical location.
Dealing with the rise of violent extremism, terrorism, hybrid challenges and conventional threats we must accept the need for contributing as a Union more to our own security, reinforcing our strategic autonomy to be able if necessary to act alone or/and with partners.
In the economic domain, despite positive recent trends, we need to ensure that we have in place inclusive policies which benefit every single citizen. As advocates of the Social Market Economy we need to be able to respond to the needs of our societies healing the deep scars of the recent financial crisis.
All European Citizens, regardless of their country of origin, must feel in their everyday life the quality difference of being an EU citizen. And this will only happen if our policies provide tangible socio-economic results and if we prove them that no unreasonable spending, including running costs of the Union institutions themselves, is taking place.
Every single euro of our budget must be justifiable and of course agreeing on the new MFF will be another challenging task to which we must succeed the year to come. And as we have stated in our Conclusion the Economy should serve the people and not the other way around. Europe needs an ambitious comprehensive and growth-oriented economy that can create jobs and provide a high standard of living for our citizens. It is not acceptable for us in EPP that young Europeans remain unemployed. The youth of today are the innovators and wealth creators of tomorrow. All our futures depend on them. Therefore, we will continue to take a leading role in ensuring that young people better integrate into the labour market and into society as a whole.
Dear fellow EPP members,
To further develop Europe’s position in the global economy a key priority must be to enhance our investment in Research and Development. This will allow European companies and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs), so traders and ultimately all EU citizens to benefit from new technologies and more efficient methods of production.
To achieve these, the EU needs a well-funded, efficient and flexible budget capable of tackling challenges and seizing future opportunities.
On climate change, which continues to move faster than our efforts to address it, we must show leadership and a more ambitious collective policy. That’s why we welcome the adoption of the EU Targets for reducing CO2 emissions by 2030 and the legislative instruments to achieve them in the industrial, non-industrial and forestry sectors.
As we endeavor to ensure peace, security and prosperity in Europe and our wider region, we must not forget that the European Union was founded on principles to safeguard peace, our way of life, democracy and prosperity, equality and human rights.
What happens on the eastern and southern regions has a direct impact on us. And as the President of the Republic of Cyprus, which still endures occupation of 37% of its territory and flagrant violation of the fundamental freedoms and human rights of its citizens by Turkey contrary to international and EU law, I need to press on the importance of reunifying the EU’s last divided Member State.
The anachronistic division of my country has been known as the “Cyprus problem”. This is not an accurate title. It is in effect a “European problem”, an open wound for Europe.
Healing this European wound will contribute significantly to a stronger Europe, also in light of the huge prospects in the energy field. Reunification, a viable, functional solution that safeguards Cyprus’s independence and sovereignty based on the UN SC Resolutions and the EU acquis, principles and values, will allow it to further develop its role as an anchor of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and as a bridge between the region and Europe benefiting all Europeans.
Dear President Daul, EPP fellows,
I am grateful for the EPP’s long standing, strong support to our efforts to find a fair and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem and I would like to express my appreciation for the renewal of this support by the Resolution adopted last night.
My main message today is that, with respect to our principles, we must ensure and safeguard the strength and unity of the European Union, while remaining relevant, effective and faithful to our citizens’ needs and concerns.
Looking up to a better, safer and more prosperous Europe for its own people, let us redouble our efforts in the months ahead in order to enhance existing dialogue with our citizens on EU policies and the future of Europe.
Let us convince them that the EPP policies and their role are crucial, and that together we can work to tackle all the challenges we face. And I have no doubt that in doing so we will win next year’s elections.