On 10 December 2014, the plenary session welcomed Mr Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, who participated in a debate on the political priorities and on cooperation between the EP and the EESC.
Statements by members of the Workers' Group
Georges Dassis, President of the Workers' Group, pointed out that the trade union movement and the EESC as a whole lobbied vigorously, since the establishment of the European Parliament and the Committee by the Rome Treaty, in favour of a European Parliament directly elected by the people and vested with real powers.
Indeed, progress has been made in overcoming the democratic deficit without effectively achieving the goal of making Parliament the Union's real legislative organ. However, the social deficit has not been filled by far and has been growing since the beginning of the crisis.
This was inevitable as, despite the alarm signals that came from the EESC, political leaders were slow to react, thinking that the crisis affected only a few small countries. Eventually, they had to change their minds as they realised that the crisis was spreading: progress was thus made in particular with the introduction of the European Stability Mechanism.
However, the austerity policies proposed as a solution to the crisis have been maintained and have even been implemented in countries that had been spared until now. But it is not in this manner that we will achieve European integration, as the results of the recent European elections show. It is urgent to act now, while xenophobic, racist, Nazi and Europhobic parties are still a minority, for example by fighting fiscal fraud or reinvigorating the community method.
Georges Dassis concluded by calling on the European Parliament to act with this in mind, in order to show that it is there for the people who elected it. He also urged Mr. Schulz to continue fighting in favour of European integration and for a Europe of peace, prosperity and social progress to counter the damaging action of the parties and movements that advocate hatred and racism.
Carmelo Cedrone agreed with the declarations of Mr Schulz stressing that it was particularly the seriousness of the speech that had impressed him beyond its content.
However, it is high time that actions led to concrete results because the causes of the crisis are known just as its consequences in the EU and the Eurozone in particular. But the list of tasks to be accomplished has been the same for years while unemployment is rising to historic levels and deflation is threatening Europe.
It is crucial to avoid a failure of the Juncker Commission. A recession could signify the end of Europe and the glimmer of hope that still remains. This is why the European Parliament should not vote the Juncker plan as it is: Europe needs a more powerful project to rapidly correct the mistakes made in the Eurozone. As a matter of fact, the EESC has made numerous proposals to this effect.
Carmelo Cedrone expressed the hope that these proposals would be better heard by MEPs than what had been the case until now. He concluded by asking the new assembly if it intended to give new impulse to the European project or merely to continue the work of the former assembly.