Cypriot EU presidency must aim for 'more Europe'
by Joseph Daul
The whole of Europe is counting on the success of the Cypriot six-month EU presidency, which should have one main priority: reinforcing the political integration of Europe - says MEP
"Our moral responsibility is not to stop the future, but to shape it - to channel our destiny," the great writer Alvin Toffler once said. Europe's destiny will be in the hands of Cyprus when it takes over, for the first time in its history, the rotating six-month European Union Presidency on July 1. This week, I had an intensive meeting in Nicosia with all of the political leaders and important ministers who will be at the forefront of the Cyprus EU presidency. They showed determination and eagerness for success. The country's task of taking over its first EU presidency at a crucial time for all of us, and only two weeks after key elections in Greece will not be easy.
Our citizens, in these difficult times, expect their national and European leaders to show solidarity but also to show responsibility in their decisions. They also rightly demand that what has been decided by the 27 EU member states should be swiftly implemented. The Cypriot Presidency will work under the 'Better Europe' motto, towards a more efficient continent. We are counting on the success of the Cypriot EU presidency, which really should have one main priority: reinforcing the political integration of Europe.
We can no longer approach social and economic issues without creating a common political vision. For the reforms which the continent needs, we have to have greater acceptance from our citizens. This will not happen if we do not have a common idea of what Europe is and where we want to go. We have to explain to our people why we have to work longer hours, why we have to spend less, save more, take fewer holidays and retire later. We have to explain to them why we are implementing reforms, while showing solidarity with our neighbours.
If, but I really hope we will avoid it, Greece had to leave the eurozone - Cyprus could be gravely affected. A domino effect, leading to the break-up of the eurozone, could cost us up to 9 per cent of our collective gross domestic product. No country is an island anymore. We are all interconnected. What happens in Athens today can happen in Berlin tomorrow. What happens in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece has an impact on the rest of Europe and beyond. This is why we fully endorse the recent European Commission proposal for reforms presented in its 'country specific recommendations'. This clearly outlined that over the last year, the crisis in the euro area went through its most acute phase so far. Once again, we see that reforms are indispensable. I believe that the commission's recommendations should be fully endorsed by the next European Council and should be considered by member states as their roadmap.
We strongly support public deficit reduction, coupled with sustained growth and job creation. This growth can only be achieved through a competitive economy. The commission has shown the right way forward to greater competitiveness and, therefore, growth. When negotiating the multi-annual financial framework for 2014-2020 - including the Common Agricultural Policy, the Cohesion Policy and the Research and Innovation Policy, the Cypriot EU presidency should always bear in mind that we need a more integrated Europe; politically, fiscally and socially. Only then we will have a better Europe.
Joseph Daul MEP is chairman of the European People's Party group in the European Parliament
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