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The EU must put nation states back at the centre – Nicola Procaccini

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On Wednesday, Commission President von der Leyen will give her final State of the Union address in the European Parliament in Strasbourg ahead of the 2024 European elections.

The ECR Group argues that the starting point for any reflection must be the recognition that Europe and European values of freedom and national sovereignty are under military, political and economic attack. Ahead of von der Leyen’s speech, ECR Group Co-Chairman Nicola Procaccini highlighted key issues on which the Commission President should take urgent action.

Commenting on the continuing rise in the number of migrants, Mr Procaccini said:

“Human trafficking has become the most profitable and dangerous criminal activity in the world. The European Union should focus its efforts on combating this criminal activity in every possible way, acting first and foremost on the external dimension by combating illegal departures in countries of origin and transit, but also, if necessary, directly at sea.

“In addition, Europe must undoubtedly put forward a coherent and effective proposal on returns and readmission, as well as strengthen its cooperation with the countries of origin of migratory flows to ensure their development and improve the living conditions so that people there no longer feel the need to risk their lives to reach EU countries.”

On the Green Deal, Mr Procaccini called for an undogmatic and realistic approach that puts citizens at the centre:

“When we look at the Green Deal, we see that it has become a very divisive issue within the European Parliament. We insist on the concept of technology neutrality. This means allowing member states to determine their own transition, especially in terms of energy use, and avoiding a dogmatic, anti-economic and anti-social approach that is sometimes included in the implementing measures of the Green Deal.

“Following the departure of Mr Timmermans and the possible appointment of Mr Hoekstra as the new Dutch Commissioner, the ECR does not share the criticism expressed by some colleagues in the Parliament. Just because Mr Hoekstra does not come from the same political family as Timmermans, I can already hear some colleagues raising the barricades before the hearing has even taken place. We should judge on the basis of facts, not ideological prejudices.”

Procaccini also called for changes to the Stability and Growth Pact in relation to the war in Ukraine, economic recovery and climate change:

“The ECR supports the European Commission’s proposals to reform the Stability and Growth Pact, although we believe there are still some aspects that need to be improved. For us, the gradual reduction of debt is an essential condition for stability. But we also need to strengthen growth, which is the only way to reduce the deficit/GDP ratio.

“We believe that we must be pragmatic and that reforms must take into account the challenges of today and tomorrow.

“Defence investments should be excluded from debt and deficit calculations so that we can continue to support Ukraine and respect our international commitments.

“The same goes for public investments, especially those related to the reconstruction fund and the ecological transition. I am thinking in particular of the fight against hydro-geological instability and, more generally, of all the infrastructures needed to adapt our territory to climate change.”

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