Gabi Zimmer pleads with plenary to defend the Union and uphold common social values
GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer MEP touched upon a variety of subjects including the situation in Syria and the Hungarian referendum during her speech to the plenary session on preparations for the European Council meeting in two weeks’ time.
On Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s recent State of the European Union speech, Zimmer said the litmus test on EU cohesion will come to the fore early next year:
“Mr Juncker’s statement today on the recent state of the union speech was addressed more to the members of the Council than to us as MEPs. He’s made it clear to the Council that it has to base itself upon common values and go back to working together rather than anyone trying to go it alone in Europe.”
“Whether this succeeds or not will be clear at the latest in early 2017 on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome. We’ll know then if EU member states are finally prepared to build a genuine social union and accept that without this, the EU really has no future,” said the German MEP.
In terms of the upcoming discussions concerning core European values such as solidarity and human rights, Zimmer said clearer statements are needed from the Council:
“When the Council discusses migration issues, member states have to uphold their responsibilities for our common values and must ensure that certain governments do not dilute out or reinterpret them for self-interest. We need a clear message from the Council on Viktor Orbán´s declaration in seeing through his anti-refugee stance despite last Sunday’s failed Hungarian referendum.”
“For Poland, it is clear that a complete ban on abortion in that country will be adopted. But the EU has a responsibility here because we have our rights as women and they apply across all member states – not just in certain countries within the EU,” she added.
On international trade, Zimmer wanted the Council to explain more openly as to whether re-negotiations are likely on the proposed trade agreement with Canada, CETA – as suggested by Germany’s Vice-Chancellor and Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel.
On international affairs, Zimmer warned against the EU being drawn into the US Presidential campaign. She also condemned the air strikes in Aleppo, Syria. However, the German MEP believed that sanctions against Russia is not the way forward, pleading with the plenary:
“In terms of Russia, I think sanctions are wrong and I am still of that view. But that doesn’t mean I’m lining up behind Vladimir Putin at all. I strongly condemn the air strikes on Aleppo – those are crimes perpetrated also by Russia but others are responsible as well.”
“But I would ask you not to listen to those who declare Russia as the ‘empire of evil’. Sanctions or isolation or similar policies never achieve their aims and we are simply bringing back the Cold War and a new arms race – and that is the fear that we have to deal with at the moment,” she concluded.