Interview with Gianni Pittella, President of the S&D Group - Unravel Travel TV


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Following the State of the Union address by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker - Gianni Pittella, President of the S&D Group Gianni Pittella said: "The S&D Group expresses its satisfaction with Juncker's speech; its positive elements far outweighed its shortcomings. We have to acknowledge that the European Commission is doing its utmost to reverse the trends of the Barroso era, away from the renationalisation of power. In this regard, the Parliament and Commission stand together in defending the achievements of integration. It's now up to the member states in Bratislava to come on-board, alongside the Commission and the European Parliament, by ensuring their support to reinforce the tools the EU desperately needed to tackle its current challenges. We cannot face the challenges of austerity, low growth, migration flows, Brexit and terrorism whilst armed only with a water gun. We cannot wait for events to unfold; be they the British referendum, the French elections or the German elections. To move forward - we need action now.

"The S&D Group very much welcomes the intent of the European Commission to double the investment plan. This must be a cornerstone to re-launch our economy and improve social justice. However, we remain slightly sceptical about the real consistency of the plan and its capacity to ensure new investment opportunities in the less well-off regions of Europe. Merely cosmetic operations, as well as 'creative accounting' artifices, are unacceptable. We will be monitoring this very closely.

"The S&D Group appreciates president Juncker's stance on the need to overcome blind austerity and embrace a new, smarter approach to flexibility. We hope this clear message will also be delivered to Mr Schauble and friends: the only ones who have yet to realise the destructive effects of austerity across our societies in Europe. In this respect there has never been and never will be any possible grounds for cooperation with the EPP.

"The recent Barroso and Apple cases have shown the desperate need for a resolute policy against tax evasion and for a moralisation of our economy. We call on president Juncker to pass from words to deeds and table a proposal on CCCTB (Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base), a tax havens blacklist and whistle-blowers, and to steer the Commission to the forefront in the fight against conflict of interests, by foreseeing, for example, an extension of the cooling off period.

"We are insistent upon the need to revise our common approach to globalisation. While we very much welcome the wise establishment of a European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) for Africa and the urgent need to tackle the disgraceful phenomenon of unaccompanied child migrants, as requested by our group, the S&Ds are firmly against Market Economy Status (MES) for China while we must seriously take into consideration people's concerns on TTIP. We share Juncker's strongly worded appeal to member states to swiftly ratify the COP21 agreement. The EU does not deserve to come across as ridiculous on this issue.

"Juncker promised us a Triple-A Social agenda but not much has been delivered yet. We demand stronger protections for those in precarious work, resulting in particular from the digital revolution.

"On terrorism, the ball cannot just be left in the governments’ court. The EU must take the lead and open the discussion to shape a common security policy based on common tools, such as a European FBI.

"The S&D Group confirms its support to the Commission which is linked to the capacity to deliver and shape a better Europe together."
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