EU candidates’ quotes: 25 April

Juncker (EPP), Schulz (PES), Verhofstadt (ALDE), Bové & Keller (Greens) and Tsipras (GUE/NGL). Sources : Wikimedia Commons (EPP; Superbenjamin; White House; David Monniaux; Sarah Benke; FrangiscoDer). For licence to reuse, check the relevant links.

Juncker (EPP), Schulz (PES), Verhofstadt (ALDE), Bové & Keller (Greens) and Tsipras (GUE/NGL).
Sources : Wikimedia Commons (EPP; Superbenjamin; White House; David Monniaux; Sarah Benke; FrangiscoDer). For licence to reuse, check the relevant links.

Jean-Claude Juncker (EPP)

5 priorities: 1. Policies that create growth and jobs (a “key ingredient” is the digital single market); 2. A new European energy union; 3. A reasonable and balanced trade agreement with the USA; 4. Continue with the reform of our monetary union “with Europe’s social dimension in mind”; 5. Give an answer to the “British question” (“work for a fair deal with Britain”). (Press conference)

Next President of EU Commission: “The candidate of the political group that will be the strongest after the European Parliament elections will become the next Commission President. Anything else would make a mockery of the democratic process that is now explicitly foreseen in the Treaty. […] I believe it is high time citizens see that the Commission is led by elected politicians, and not by unelected bureaucrats.” (Press conference)

Citizens and the EU: “To me, the crisis has made it more urgent than ever to reacquaint our citizens with the European project. […] Today, only 29% of citizens believe that their voice counts in the EU. […] This is why I decided to be the EPP’s candidate for Commission President in these European Parliament elections.” (Press conference)

Tackling the crisis: “Over the next five years, I want to work night and day to get Europe out of this crisis. To make sure Europeans, notably young Europeans, get a decent job. And to heal the wounds that the crisis has inflicted upon our citizens and our whole continent over the past years.” (Press conference)

Involving voters: “During the campaign, I intend to listen a lot. Because the political programme of the next Commission will not be dictated. It will be developed and discussed together with the European public, different political parties and, after the elections, together with the European Parliament and the European Council. […] I am therefore very open for views and suggestions. And I invite everybody to make use of the new website which my team is launching today to send me ideas, to give feedback and to suggest adjustments of the ideas I already outlined.” (Press conference)

Martin Schulz (PES)

Social and fiscal dumping: “If I were President of the Commission, I would prioritise the fight against social dumping within Europe. […] Social dumping often goes along with fiscal dumping.” (Speech in Paris)

Commission-Parliament relations: “I will do my best in order to have a Commission more responsible to the European Parliament” (Speech in Paris)

Tax havens: “I propose to put an end to tax havens outside Europe, but also within Europe.” (Speech in Paris)

Free trade agreement USA-EU: “It would not be shrewd to reject any kind of free-trade agreement, as some people want it especially in France. It would not make us stronger against the USA [but] we demand more transparency in the negotiations. The negotiation mandate has to be made public.” (Speech in Paris)

Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE)

EU democracy: “For the first time of the history of the EU, voters will have a say in who will be the next Commission President. This is a major step forward in the development of a European democracy. The presentation of the Commission’s programme will no longer be a backroom affair, but will be up for scrutiny by the public.” (Twitter)

Jobs: “Today, millions of Europeans are without a job. This is the single biggest issue to be tackled in the years ahead. That is why job creation will be at the heart of my plan for Europe.” (Twitter)

Energy & Russia: “If we want to be strong, we need a unified EU energy market. That is an effective response to Russia.” (Twitter)

Alexis Tsipras (GUE/NGL)

Debt in Greece: “When the first Memorandum was adopted, the national debt was 120 percent of GDP. We were not able to borrow on the markets then. What has changed now, apart from the fact that the debt is now 175 percent of GDP?” (Tsipras’ website)

Social situation in Greece: “We have a humanitarian crisis in Greece. This year, the number of deaths from influenza increased exponentially and experts say it is due to the difficulty of access to vaccines and medical care.” (Tsipras’ website)

Banks: “We have been ruled by banks for too long. There is a class war going on, masked by the rescue packages. Now the Left has finally started to resist. We need common solutions. Governing the EU will give us a chance to turn it into something completely different.” (Tsipras’ website)

José Bové & Ska Keller (Greens)

Free-trade agreement EU-USA: “Greens are against the inclusion of Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) in trade agreements, as the EU is currently planning in the agreements with Singapore, Canada and the United States. The ISDS means that foreign investors can sue the States hosting their investments in international courts when they see their rights and profit expectations violated.” (Ska Keller’s blog)

Refugees and FRONTEX: “The new rules [voted during the last EP plenary session] include binding provisions on search and rescue. Importantly, the fundamental principle of not returning people who face persecution is explicitly detailed in the new rules, following Green insistence. FRONTEX [the EU agency for external borders] will also have a duty to include medical assistance, translation and legal advice in planning its operations. However, concerns remain. As a translator does not have to be on board the FRONTEX boat and only available to be called if necessary, there is no guarantee that refugees can make it clear that they need protection in the EU. Refugees will also have no means to contest an attempt to send boats back. This is in spite of the fact that the European Court of Human Rights judgment made clear that refugees must be given immediate legal means to appeal any such decision. This is unacceptable for the Greens.”

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