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Speeches, Interviews

18.04.2006

European Conference on Subsidiarity, Concluding Remarks by Governor Pröll


 

Mr. Chancellor, Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen.

The task which I have now is to sum up in a few sentences what we have heard and discussed in the last three hours here. So, first of all I would like to thank all of those who have contributed to the discussion and I would like to specially thank the keynote-speakers of having agreed to participate in the discussion. Ladies and Gentlemen, in preparing for the subsidiarity conference I was confronted with a number of differing impressions and feelings. On the one hand, some politically interested persons were asking themselves whether that conference was coming a little bit too late, but on the other hand there were expressions of feelings of people who are also interested in politics and who said: well, why do we want to discuss that issue now? I think the last two and a half hours have given at least a partial answer to these two questions. Because I think in these last two and a half hours it has become very clear that obviously the pointed time was correct, not because Austria is chairing the European Union at the moment, but because in the development of this European Union we have reached a very specific point. Because - as we heard here this afternoon - the enlargement of the European Union also requires a deepening of the European Union, and on the other hand, we have reached a specific point because it is apparently becoming increasingly clear that we are really at a crossroads between functional concepts and the political approach as a room for  democracy, as we have heard.

And whenever you have reached such a crossroads in a development phase, it is best to stand back for a minute and to ask yourself where we are at the moment and then to analyse the question where do we want to or have to go in order to make sure that this European enterprise will become a successful one? Three main aspects, I think, have become clear here today: Mr. Rupel said that there should be  several levels of subsidiarity in the development of Europe. First of all the big debate, as he put it, which means that within the member states of the European Union we have to reconsider how we work together and we also have to consider how within the EU member states we can find a way to ensure that no-one is left behind and put at a disadvantage. Secondly, there is the small subsidiarity debate, as Mr. Rupel put it, where we have to consider which level on a regional basis has an important word to say, when it is a question of having the citizens involved as well. In the trans-border cooperation of the regions it is of decisive relevance that we make sure that in this further development of Europe the specific characteristics of this continent, for example as far as the rights of minorities or the question of the culture of the different regions or the languages in the various regions are concerned, that despite all these differences, we do not allow the small units to get abandoned, but to give also the diversity of the small units a chance to survive.

And then there is a third aspect which is very important for me and which was mentioned by Mr. Jakovcic. He said that especially in those countries which we may call young democracies it is important that subsidiarity is really seen as a key for the democratic coexistence in this Europe we want to create.

And it was stated here in very impressive words: decentralisation and regionalisation have a name, namely peace, as Mr. Jakovcic said. I think that this is a highly decisive task, a real task for all of us, also at the central level in Brussels. It means that we have to consider it our task to make sure that we can secure long-lasting, hopefully ever-lasting peace on this continent. And therefore the question of subsidiarity, the question of where is Europe´s home is not just a question which is of relevance to  a few minorities or small clearly discernable units, but rather a question which is of utmost priority within the framework of the tasks of the European Union.

Well, ladies and gentlemen allow me to mention one further aspect which I think is highly important for all of us who carry responsibility: Mr. Valinakis pointed to it when he said that the success of Europe depends on the balance between Europeanisation on the one hand, and regionalisation on the other. And this brings me to President Delabarre who said subsidiarity is an important tool, but we have to be very careful that subsidiarity will not be an instrument, a weapon that can turn against us.  We must do what Governor Sausgruber said in such nice words: what the smallest unit can do best is to mobilise all our forces, and having mobilised the forces of the small unit this big Europe gets an enormous chance on a way to a better future. Ladies and Gentlemen, at least in my opinion, this is an enormous challenge. This brings me to the last point of this summary. I see this in my practical political work every day and obviously politics (and if you like politicians) very often are inclined to say that when their political solutions do not work anymore, they call for the legal experts and that is something which we should not allow, ladies and gentlemen.  I am saying this mainly to the politicians first of all - that is not the right way. I think everybody has to do their own tasks themselves: the politicians have to do the political work and the legal experts have to do the legal work. I think you cannot adhere to the illusion that, if things become unpleasant or difficult, the question of subsidiarity  can be solved by legal experts. That is our intrinsic task as politicians. If today, at this first part of the conference, we have done good work and have been able to implant one virus or the other in that respect in ourselves  and to disseminate it via the media throughout Europe, in order to infect all of Europe, then these two and a half hours were important hours, I would say, for successful years and decades on the way towards a better Europe.

 

Thank you very much.

 

Date: 18.04.2006