Delors, Jacques:The credibility of the construction of Europe

Address to the European Parliament, 18 February 1987.
CVCE | Official Journal of the European Communities

delorsbMr President of the European Parliament, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, ladies and gentlemen, in January 1985, in my statement of the guidelines of the newly appointed Commission as it started its mandate, I spoke to you of my great worry about Europe’s credibility. In January 1986, in the debate on the Commission’s programme, I stressed the two pitfalls to be avoided in the construction of Europe: impatience and inertia. I even spoke, at the risk of causing offence, of the temptation of nominalism. You will therefore understand that, after two years in office, the Commission is anxious to join with you in measuring the gap between words and actions, between undertakings given and what has been done to follow them up, purpose of this assessment being to improve our performance, to step up the rate of progress towards the European Union.

What have we done in the past two years to give fresh impetus to the construction of Europe? What must we do this year and next?

In 1985 we revived the idea of the large internal market, proposing that the Community should become an area without internal frontiers by 1992. Bearing past experience in mind, we proposed a method of attaining this objective, a method based on a timetable. The Commission felt then and still feels now that, at our current stage of development, the internal market is the real driving force for European economic integration. The pace at which this process of integration progresses will determine the outcome of the worldwide race against the clock in which Europe is competing for its very survival. That is why it was necessary to step up a gear, that is why it was necessary to get away from the obsession with unanimity, whose contaminating influence had gradually spread throughout the Community’s institutional system.

In 1986 we and you worked on the drafting of the Single Act, which was adopted. We and you hoped that this reform would not be confined to mere adjustment of procedures. We and you insisted on the explicit incorporation of new elements into the process of European integration: European policies on research and technology, on the environment, on working conditions. Even though some people – and I count myself among them – take the view that the Single Act does not go far enough, it is in reality much more demanding than it appears. It will be up to us, this year and next, to translate it into proposals and actions and to ensure that the 12 Member States themselves appreciate all its implications. This will be difficult. Let us have no illusions about that. The contract has been signed, or almost at any rate. But it is to be feared that the necessary political will is not going to be forthcoming. That is one of the impressions that I have received from the tour of capitals that we have made over the recent period at the request of the European Council. I reiterate the point before the House that the purpose of this tour of capitals was to listen to what the governments had to say during the period when the Commission was finalizing its proposals for what I have called the ‘grand rendez-vous’. So the object of the exercise was not to draw viewpoints closer together, nor to let the governments take over the Commission’s role of bringing forward initiatives. No. It was to explain what was at stake, to encourage people to come to grips with the problems, to help set in train a process of analysis and mature reflection, which experience has shown to be essential whenever the threat of a crisis in the Community has appeared on the horizon.

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