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We said it before the election, and after the election we are saying exactly the same: the PES cannot support a reelection of Barroso.

Now more than ever, Europe needs a fundamental change of direction and real crisis management. After the election, the PES is the second largest group in the European Parliament, and we are by no means the only ones who oppose another five years of Barroso. He is the candidate of the EPP and now, as before, his reelection is far from being a ‘done deal’.

Things must be done properly, transparently, and in full respect of the European Parliament. An early appointment would undermine both the next Commission and the next European Parliament:

We must remember that parliamentary ratification of the Lisbon Treaty has been completed in 26 member states. Taking decisions on the next Commission and its President before the autumn Irish referendum would mean doing so under two different treaties – Lisbon and Nice – seriously damaging its legitimacy.

Meanwhile this would also mean total lack of respect of the European Parliament: the European Council needs to postpone its plans to make a decision at the June 18th – 19th summit in order to respect the role of the Parliament – democratically chosen by millions of European voters just days ago – in the composition of the new Commission. After all, in its resolution of 7th May 2009, the Parliament (led by EPP rapporteur Jean-Luc Dehaene) clearly states that it insists on being fully consulted prior to any European Council nomination of a President to the European Commission. That’s why we must allow time: for the new Parliament to be established, for likely candidates to emerge, and for the treaty under which the next Commission will operate to become clear.

So let’s do things correctly, democratically and coherently – with full democratic legitimacy.

Posted by Poul Nyrup Rasmussen

While we await the final results of the European elections, it is obvious our socialist and social democratic family had a disappointing result.

We face a more conservative European Parliament, with a right that is more euro-sceptic and more nationalistic than before.

The low participation rate was a huge problem, especially for us. Our voters stayed away. They simply didn’t see the relevance of these elections. They did not see the political choices at European level – perhaps not surprising since these elections were mainly fought over national political disputes.

We had a European alternative, but it was not visible enough. Europe still needs a new direction. We are in the middle of a recession, and it will not go away. Wage earners are not to blame but they may end up paying the price. We will have 27 million unemployed next year unless we have a new and stronger European recovery effort. So we will continue our fight for more and better-coordinated investments in new jobs, and to save jobs. We will continue to stand up for social justice and equality. We will continue our fight for a global new deal, including a new strong global climate agreement in the coming months.

We have suffered a loss but we remain the second largest group in the European Parliament. We lost 3 percentage points overall, but we gained in ten member states including in the Czech Republic, in Sweden, in Greece and in Ireland where we are in opposition, and in Slovakia and Slovenia where we are in Government.

We need to reflect, and for our common European party to come forward with a renewed strategy and new ideas. But I say no to those who announce a profound crisis in European socialism. European citizens still depend on social democratic values for decent work, good schools, good health care and a clean environment. Europe still needs a society where everyone can participate, contribute and benefit. This is no time for dismantling our welfare states, it is time for strengthening them.

The centre-right cannot claim a victory for their policies. People are still worried abut the crisis, and the crisis remains our number one priority.

The far-right made worrying gains in the elections. People still need us to stand up for respect and tolerance for all, and to continue to fight to protect all workers from the recession.

We need more PES, not less PES. We will make new efforts to strengthen our European political party because we must engage more than ever as a political family in European politics.

Posted by Poul Nyrup Rasmussen

Final call to vote

The European elections have now started in the UK and the Netherlands and by Sunday evening will be completed in all 27 EU member countries.

The elections are a vote on the policy, direction and leadership of the European Union. It is the Parliament that will vote on the next President of the Commission.

A vote for the Conservatives is a vote for business as usual. It is a vote for not doing enough to fight the crisis. It is a vote for the current European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, a conservative, to get another five years in charge of the European Commission. A prospect which even one well-respected Financial Times columnist described as ‘very depressing’.

A vote for the Socialists is a vote for a change, a vote for a new direction for Europe. It is a vote for a new recovery plan for Europe, which is plainly not possible with the current Commission President. It is a vote for a new majority in the European Parliament: a majority that will ensure a new leadership and a new direction. The PES is the only party that can deliver this change, the only party around which a new majority can be built. The PES has set out a number of steps it wants to take in the first hundred days of the new Parliament including a strong, new recovery plan, an Employment pact to safeguard jobs, and action to prevent a rise in poverty and inequality.

Don’t believe those who say that Barroso’s second term is a ‘done deal’. The conservatives cannot get a majority on their own, and no one has ever suggested they could.

So there is still everything to vote for. Don’t stay at home. Your vote really does count!

Posted by Poul Nyrup Rasmussen

By Poul Nyrup Rasmussen,
President of the Party of European Socialists

You choose – but please don’t throw your vote away!

Like it or not, Europe is a part of your government, and Brussels is one of the seats of your democracy. There’s the Town Hall, regional government, national parliament and the European Union with its directly elected European Parliament.

You probably feel more attached to your national parliament than to the European Parliament. But ask yourself: can your country tackle the economic crisis on its own? Can your country combat climate change on its own? Can your country fight the trafficking of women, children, drugs and arms on its own? These problems need action at every level – local, regional, national as well as European. Like it or not the European Parliament makes laws affecting our everyday lives, laws that change the world around us.

So the European elections on 4-7 June are your chance to influence how Europe – the largest economy in the world – develops over the next five years. And what a five years it is going to be! We are in the deepest global recession since the 1930s: unemployment will reach 27 million in 2010 with dramatic consequences for people all over Europe. We need to start getting serious about the global climate and energy crisis, and address urgent humanitarian crises in the developing world. These are all areas where Europe can make a difference.

Don’t be fooled by those who say that Europe is a bureaucracy you can’t influence. It’s simply not true: all the decisions are all taken by elected politicians – directly-elected national governments who make the decisions in the ‘European Council’ and the directly-elected European Parliament. The European Commissioners are chosen by those governments and voted on by the European Parliament.

The last five years have, at European Union level, been conservative years – with conservatives as the largest force in all EU decision-making bodies. My view is that they were failed years but it is up to make your own mind up.

The direction offered by us socialists and social democrats is clear. We have set out steps to fight the recession we want taken in the first hundred days following the European elections, including:

1. A new, strong recovery plan for Europe, with coordinated investments in jobs and green growth.
2. A European Employment Pact to safeguard employment, and strengthen workers’ rights, working conditions and equal pay
3. A new Women’s Rights Charter to improve all women’s rights and opportunities
4. A Social Progress Pact to tackle the social consequences of the crisis, preventing a rise in poverty and inequality
5. Effective regulation and supervision of the financial markets
6. New mutual solidarity across European member states

And the elections are not just a choice about the make up of the next Parliament. If the conservatives form a majority after the election, José Manuel Barroso, the current President of the European Commission, will get a second five-year term. If we can form a progressive majority in the European Parliament he will not.

So there is a good reason to vote: you are faced with a real political choice.

It may be tempting to stay at home. Going to the voting station takes time and effort. But don’t think that not voting makes no difference. By staying at home you give the extremists a better chance of being elected and you could end up with an MEP who in no way shares your values, and who will not represent you. The racists, the nationalists and the anti-Europeans have contributed nothing to the important decisions that the European Parliament has taken in the past, and won’t in the future. They are marginalised and isolated by their inability to cooperate across national boundaries.

A vote for the extremists is a wasted vote, and a wasted vote is a vote for the extremists.

So I appeal to all women and men – please don’t stay at home on European elections day. Use your vote to make your choice of the direction you think Europe should take over the next five years.

 

Posted by Poul Nyrup Rasmussen