Growth and Stability Pact
(Translation from the original German)
President, President of the Commission, Commissioner, Colleagues,
„There are situations in life when it is not a pleasure to have to speak. I find myself in this situation today. I would like to express my respect and sympathy for the President of the Commission, Romano Prodi, as a human being. But we are not talking about human relations here, we are talking about the assumptions of certain responsibilities. This is why the great majority of my Group feels that the events that have just taken place must not be repeated.
„Last Friday in „Le Monde“ the President of the Commission said, „I know very well that the Stability Pact is stupid, like all rigid decisions“. We were speechless. We didn’t know how to react when we heard that. President Prodi, when you talk about the authority required by people of responsibility, I agree with you, but you are only going to get that responsibility, if you do not breach the authority of the Commission once again.
„We were extremely surprised to hear that the main spokesman of the President of the Commission said again on Friday of last week, that the President of the Commission does not regret a single word of what he said. Now, of course anyone can make a mistake, but if you do make a mistake, once you realise that you have made that mistake, you must be bold enough to say, „yes, I regret the fact that I said what I did.“ I regret, Commissioner Prodi, that you didn’t take the opportunity today to correct what you said and withdraw your comment and admit that you made a mistake.
„Last Friday, you were already contradicted by Commissioner Solbes in his statement in Barcelona. Commissioner Solbes said, as he has today, that there have been several infringements over the past few years, and the Commission has already demonstrated, that the Stability and Growth Pact is sufficiently flexible. I think, President Prodi should step into line with Commissioner Solbes. Commissioner Solbes said, that he and the Commission have a duty to stick to the Stability and Growth Pact. I would like to express my thanks to Commissioner Solbes for that.
„There is one thing, that we have to be very clear about. There is room to manoeuvre. On one hand we have the 3% borrowing limit, which is possible in bad times. But in good times we really must aim at balancing the books. That is what Commissioner Solbes has been saying. It is wrong to say that the Pact is not flexible in its current form. I think in what the President said, the political impression was given that the doors are open to deficits in Europe. We very much resist that kind of impression and that kind of comments being made in the future. We do not want that to happen because more deficits means more inflation, more inflation means higher interest rates, and higher interest rates means that our economy can invest less. Deficits means, that we do not have enough money for investments, and the only winners in that are the banks, and that is not our idea of a social economy in Europe.
„I call upon you, and this is really what annoys me the most about these events, the fact that the President of the European Union actually undermined European law, because he is the guardian of the Treaty. As Head of the Commission he has to defend European law and not say the type of things he did about the Stability and Growth Pact.
„We think, that it is unacceptable for small countries like Portugal to get a letter from the Commission, while the large countries get off the hook. You keep the small fish and let the big ones go. If that is the policy in Europe, then Europe is on the wrong course. I would call upon the Commission to act to ensure that we can give them once again our full support. But I think that confidence have been severely damaged, and I hope that you will be able to restore confidence.“