Professor Mészáros, Professor Kis, Professor Rostoványi, Members of Senate, Distinguished audience
May I begin by expressing my thanks and sincere appreciation for being invited here today. Being bestowed with an honorary doctorate by Corvinus University is a great honour. Corvinus is a leading academic institution with proud traditions and a strong international reputation. I therefore accept this honorary doctorate with a sense of humility, as well as pride. I can certainly subscribe to your motto “scientia me, adiutor meus” – “My knowledge is my helper”.
It is a great pleasure for me to visit Hungary. In the space of the four years since Hungary joined the EU and NATO it has established itself as a fully-fledged member of the European and Atlantic family. And an important partner for Denmark.
In 1956 the people of Hungary rose up in protest, symbolizing the strong desire for freedom and democracy in Central and Eastern Europe. A desire that was later instrumental in healing the rift in Europe.
The uprising against oppression may have been put down, but it was impossible to suppress the will and the ideals of the Hungarian people. They remained a beacon during the years to come. They were not to be bullied. They did not give up and, in the end, the Communist dictatorships gave in.
They showed that democracy – not dictatorships – will prevail. That liberty – not oppression – will prevail. That freedom is a fundamental part of being an individual. And therefore one of the strongest forces on Earth.
And now we see a new Europe. A new Europe united, strong and free. I must say that I am particularly proud that the decision to enlarge the EU with 10 central and eastern European countries was taken during the Danish EU-presidency in 2002.
So Hungary provides the perfect platform for me to address the future role of the EU. I firmly believe that the next major challenge for the EU is global. Globalisation presents us with a number of new opportunities which we must turn to our best advantage. For, as many others say, trying to fight globalisation is like trying to fight gravity. It would be an utterly pointless endeavour.
EU is the ideal forum for tackling globalisation. With its well-developed institutions, its democratic values, and its economic weight and clout. It is time for EU to “go global”.
Firstly, because we as Europeans have a responsibility to work for freedom, democracy and peace around the world.
Secondly, because it is in our own interest. The global power structure is changing. We can no longer take for granted that our values will continue to dominate international relations. The EU must be strong in order to defend freedom, democracy and human rights.
Today I want to focus on how the EU can make the transition from being a regional player to being a global one - by taking concrete action. To my mind it must redouble its efforts in the following five areas. First, we must achieve a knowledge-based Europe. We must create a common European research space and strengthen our internal market.
Second, we must achieve a free trade Europe. The EU must take the lead in efforts to foster free trade and transatlantic economic cooperation.
Third, we must achieve a green Europe. Europe must assume global leadership in the fight against climate change - reinforcing Europe’s energy security in the process.
Fourth, we must achieve a secure Europe. The EU must guarantee its citizens’ safety and security at a time when organised crime and terrorism attempt to breach all borders.
Fifth, we must achieve a responsible Europe. The EU must play a far more active role in its foreign policy - taking the lead in the fight against poverty and promoting security and democracy across the globe.
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In a global era with increased competition from abroad, the EU’s research and education policies must be given top priority. In particular, we must remove barriers to the free movement of knowledge.
The internal market we know today is based on four freedoms: the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital. To this, we should add a “fifth freedom”, the free movement of knowledge and expertise.
I envisage the EU becoming an actual European research area – an internal market for knowledge - within which ideas, students, teachers and researchers will be able to move freely across borders. - We must give a significant boost to exchange programmes for students, researchers and teachers. - We should ensure fair and flexible mutual recognition of qualifications for students, researchers and teachers alike. - We must create a better framework for use of intellectual property rights arising from public research - And we must work for further reforms of the EU budget. Fewer resources should be spent on agriculture and more resources should be allocated to forward-looking priorities such as research, education and innovation. We must invest in the future. Not the past.
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The EU’s internal market is a remarkable success. Since its inception some 20 years ago, it has created millions of new jobs and produced billions-worth of economic growth in Member States.
The free market gives consumers the power to ensure that what they want is what is actually produced.
Free trade ensures a global distribution of labour that provides us with a maximum variety of goods and services at the lowest possible prices.
And free mobility of labour and capital ensures the most efficient use of resources.
And, vitally, if we allow developing countries free access to the world market they can combat poverty on their own terms.
I firmly believe that free trade helps to promote peace by strengthening the economic ties between people and countries.
Free markets, free mobility, free trade – all prerequisites for growth, prosperity and progress.
Therefore, the EU should also promote free trade and competition outside Europe. A global trading system is in the interest of everybody – not least developing countries. The strong economic growth in Asian countries, such as China and India, has lifted millions of people out of poverty.
Now, especially, when the global economy is under pressure, we must remind ourselves that the right medicine is mutual trade and investments - not protectionism and distortion of free markets. When it comes to reducing trade barriers and liberalising world trade the EU must take the lead.
At the same time, the EU must also develop its economic cooperation with the US. It is my vision that, over time, we will develop a real transatlantic market place where all barriers to trade and investments will have been eliminated. A market where goods, services and investments can move freely, in each direction, across the Atlantic. A transatlantic market place will generate greater growth and employment on both sides of the Atlantic.
For me, a transatlantic market place is not only about economics. Increased trade can contribute to strengthening political cooperation between our governments and support a community of values among our populations.
At a time when the balances of the world economy are changing, at a time where our common values are challenged by competing sets of values there is a distinct need for closer cooperation between Europe and the United States.
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Ladies and gentlemen, during recent years we have witnessed dramatic effects of climate upheaval. I sincerely believe that we must take climate change – and its effects – very seriously indeed. And that global climate change requires a global solution.
That is why Denmark has offered to host the global climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009.
One thing is clear: If we are to tackle climate change we will have to cut green house gas emissions. We must reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.
There is one more essential reason why we need to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels: security.
Most European countries rely heavily on imported oil and gas. We must reduce our dependence on imported oil and gas, thus becoming less exposed to decisions made by unstable and undemocratic countries and regions. I believe we can do this by expanding the use of renewable energy and by improving energy efficiency through new technologies.
We must break our addiction to oil. We need a new industrial revolution based on climate-friendly technologies. A new green industrial revolution. A new green global economy.
The EU should take the lead in developing such new technologies, in setting ambitious targets for renewable energy, for energy efficiency and for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
We must also strengthen energy solidarity within the EU and speak with one voice to the rest of the world regarding energy matters. We must work for a genuine European energy market with strengthened competition. And we must develop the energy grid in order to allow energy to traverse our borders.
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Ladies and gentlemen, I strongly believe in globalisation but realise that the safety and security of our citizens is directly affected by transnational threats such as terrorism, international organised crime and illegal immigration.
It is necessary that we constantly develop and reinforce our effort against such threats. So: - We must strengthen cooperation on the control of EU external borders. - We must strengthen police cooperation to both prevent and investigate cross-border crime and terrorism. - We must develop a “partnership” between the EU and countries outside the EU on a policy that will benefit both the EU and the countries from where the immigrants come. - We must achieve better employment opportunities for the young in these countries. We must give them hope and future prospects in their native lands so that they are not tempted to immigrate illegally to Europe, often under dangerous and desperate conditions. - We must pursue an immigration policy that combats illegal immigration and illegal employment. - We must pursue an immigration policy that allows legal, targeted and controlled immigration. And the countries from where the immigrants come must benefit from the skills the immigrants acquire while in Europe.
As it is today, an increase in controlled immigration is quite simply a precondition for being able to meet the increasing labour market needs for qualified manpower in both the private and the public sectors.
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Our changing world, with more free movement of goods, services and people, brings with it other huge challenges concerning foreign and security policies. How can we in the EU become better at dealing with them?
The EU is already a strong regional power. It has played a vital role in fostering peace, security and stability throughout the European Continent. Not least through enlargement and close partnerships with neighbouring countries.
However, the responsibility of the EU goes far beyond our immediate vicinity and, today, we have a wide range of both soft and hard power instruments in the EU’s foreign policy toolbox, all enabling us to make a difference: humanitarian aid, development assistance, trade policies, sanctions and crisis management. We must make full use of all these instruments for the purpose of fostering freedom, peace, security and development across the globe.
Therefore - we must improve our ability to speak with one voice on the international scene - we must strengthen the EU’s ability to carry out crisis management - we must improve our capacity to deploy civilian missions - we must ensure greater and more deployable military capabilities - and finally, we need to strengthen the EU’s cooperation with NATO. The NATO Alliance has long been the cornerstone of European security and our link to the United States. A link that we must nurture and protect. The EU and NATO complement each other. Our cooperation must be strong and seamless.
Freedom and democracy must not be taken for granted. Each and every day we must stand up for freedom and defend it against opponents. And the EU must do its share.
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Ladies and gentlemen, in conclusion, in our global era even the biggest European countries cannot go it alone. We need the EU to help our Member States to adjust to the new global reality. We must cooperate to promote European values and our interests worldwide. And we must speak with one voice to the outside world. The new treaty gives us the necessary tools. But, as always, political will is key.
The world needs European leadership to combat climate change, to create a global free trade system, to promote peace and stability and to fight poverty on a global scale. Now it is time for the EU to provide that leadership. It is time for Europe to raise its game.
We are faced with the challenges – I know we can meet them.
Honoured professors, ladies and gentlemen Once more I say “thank you” for this honour - and thank you for your attention.