Medien in der DDR. Meinungsfreiheit unter der SED (German Edition)

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Ignoring them or ridiculing them is not the solution. We need to challenge them by facts.

Peter Bieber, Berlin

The EU is now a large and strong community. It provides us with a collective identity because there is something about the EU that is also personal. However, it does not take away our national or personal identity. Our unity must be a unity of values within the diversity of our national, regional and local cultures. Finally, we need to care about the future. Soon, in the run-up to the European elections, you, the European political parties, will have an opportunity to present a new, realistic vision of our Union.

The European debate has become very lively and intense at many levels, political and civic, national and regional. We cannot be trapped in the status quo and give way to resignation. We have to renew our Union. It is up to us as leaders to find a common path and instruments which citizens can trust and support, because we need freedom, progress and protection in the European Union.

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We have to find a way of protecting the four freedoms that are at the core of EU integration. We need an EU-wide debate on what our strategy and aspirations should be for the middle of the century. The EU will certainly have to undergo a major transformation towards a climate neutral economy.

We need a transition that is socially just towards our citizens and fair to our businesses. An important issue for the future development of the European economy is that of digitalisation and automation. On the one hand, there is great concern that people will not have enough jobs because robots will replace them. On the other hand, there is great concern about the lack of skilled workers on the markets. Yet, in the future we shall need even more highly skilled people.

The best evidence of this is that the countries with the highest number of robots per job, Germany, South Korea, Singapore, have the lowest unemployment rates. That is more than half the European average and the highest level in Central and Eastern Europe. We should not be afraid of technological change: we just need to adopt smart and responsible policies. If we want to be honest in our aspiration for the future, we must have the right tools, such as the next Multiannual Financial Framework MFF. While focusing the budget on new challenges, we should not give up on cohesion policy.

Calls for its reduction in the next MFF reflect a wrong understanding of the role of cohesion policy. It is cohesion policy that helps rich and poor regions to converge, and contributes to growth even in economically difficult times.

Wilson Center Digital Archive

I mentioned that we need to speak about our future, but how can we speak about the new MFF without having a clear vision of the European Union? I think we should do it otherwise. First we have to see where we would like to be in the next five, seven, ten or fifteen years — what are our priorities — and then to decide how big a budget and what kind of budget we need for our priorities. That is the approach which I prefer over the current one. We are always behind. We are facing a digital revolution but we are not able to effect a revolution in the regulatory framework.

„Wir werden ihre Schnauzen nicht vergessen“

We are trying to regulate something that people are already using, and sometimes we do so in such a way that we over-regulate everything, and then we find ourselves crying that we are not at the same level as the USA or Asia, where the innovation environment is growing up, while we are still divided with 27 or 28 different sets of regulations. So please, we need to consider some flexible regulatory framework, not to regulate each simple thing that is going on in our lives, because this is not the future in the digital revolution.

We need to table only some basic rules and some kind of framework that is flexible enough, because we politicians are not able to act as fast as we need to act. Honourable Members, the European elections are quickly approaching and we need to mobilise our forces to fight against fake news, hybrid threats and cyber-propaganda. Make people feel the urgency! Talk to them about the importance of the EU for their everyday lives. Make them understand that elections matter: that this is their only opportunity to steer the EU, and that they should not let others speak for them.

Die Freie Meinung: Ken Jebsen über Meinungsfreiheit

There is a lot of work ahead of us. Let me finish my speech with the words of one of the founding fathers of European integration. We have to make changes and make the Union attractive to all: a Union able to learn from its past mistakes in order to prepare itself to embrace the future. Once again, we need a vision of an attractive Union that citizens can trust and support. Ce fut un pas important. Nous devions donc faire des choix, et nous les avons faits. Desde el Grupo del Partido Popular Europeo le agradecemos el tono y el lenguaje empleados.

La libertad de prensa es uno de los pilares fundamentales de la democracia y cuando un periodista es asesinado esa tragedia afecta a todas las democracias. Algo que lamentamos profundamente. Hay una crisis migratoria sin precedentes desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Son problemas para los cuales necesitamos una mayor unidad y, sin embargo, cuando estamos en esa circunstancia, su Gobierno parece apostar justo por lo contrario. El europopulismo es tan peligroso como el nacionalpopulismo.

Es el nacionalpopulismo la amenaza mayor. Ihr Land liegt im Zentrum Europas an der Trennlinie zwischen Ost und West — Jahrzehnte lang getrennt durch den eisernen Vorhang und gleichzeitig verbunden durch die Donau, eine der wichtigen Lebensadern Europas. Das hat auch zu dem bemerkenswerten wirtschaftlichen Aufschwung beigetragen. Doch wo viel Licht ist, ist auch viel Schatten. Niemand will Ihr Land belehren. Auch hier ist einiges problematisch zu bewerten.

Genauso wenig wie der brain drain, der durch die anwachsende Arbeitsmigration verursacht wird. Es geht um Nachhaltigkeit und nicht um lediglich innenpolitisch motivierte kurzfristige Vorhaben. Das Projekt betrifft uns alle, den Osten und den Westen. Sie haben schon viel dazu geleistet.

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  • I was visiting your country as the Chair of the Rule of Law Monitoring Group, and I went to Slovakia with some critical questions, but it also made me feel that we have a special bond as Europeans. I have a special place in my heart for Slovakia and the Slovaks now. I very much agree with one thing you said, and I think that this is key: there is no Eastern Europe or Western Europe or Central Europe — there is only one Europe.

    It is about time for everybody to start feeling that, particularly in Western Europe, where they are still blind on one side. I very much welcome your speech; it shows leadership in Europe. It was a very pro-European and ambitious speech, and it clarifies what ALDE also feels: the European Union needs to be much more than mere technocratic intergovernmental cooperation. In the world of today, we need a fully-fledged political union to give an answer to all the political challenges that we have, because that is the only way to remain a global leader.

    Your speech was excellent, but as we all know, true leadership is not in words — it is in actions. Like many countries in Europe and in the wider world, your country is witnessing deep divisions, and forces are pulling it in different directions. I just referred to my visit as the Chair of the Rule of Law Monitoring Group, and I have seen that there are many positive developments in Slovakia. I have seen that the institutions are strong and that civic engagement is extremely strong in Slovakia, and I commend the Slovak people for that.

    Many concerns remain, however, and new ones are also emerging. I would urge you to show the same leadership in tackling these concerns, because in a sense you hold the key. You hold the key to the future of the European Union, and the choices that you make will determine not only the future of your country, but also that of the European Union as a whole. You can show which forces will prevail in the European Union. You have a choice, and this will be a burden on your shoulders, I warn you. You are at the fork in the road.

    Do you want to join and strengthen the ranks of those who are wrecking the European Union, those who put short-term electoral gains, or even material gains, before the general interest — or worse, the ranks of those who are corrupt, even connected to organised crime? Or do you want to go down in history as a statesman, somebody courageous and wise in difficult times, who led his country forward, making it a role model for others, a leader in the Europe of the future.

    So do you choose the old Europe or the new Europe? I hope, and trust, that you will choose leadership for the future, and I shall be very specific. That is crucial for trust in the Slovak authorities. I also count on you to make sure that the nominations of nine Constitutional Court judges happen very shortly, because the Constitutional Court is effectively not operational. I would also urge you to reverse the changes to the media law, because in practice it means severe restrictions on freedom of speech.

    In other words, I have just put a burden on your shoulder and I am asking you to choose. I am counting on your wisdom. You can count on the European Parliament, and I can also pledge my personal commitment in the next period to working with you and with the civic forces in Slovakia to make sure that you can provide this leadership in the European Union. The future of Europe has lots of different, very important, aspects and the one I would like to focus on today is the issue of democracy. There is of course also advancing the democratic procedures inside the European Union — definitely — but the question right now is also how we deal with Member States who are turning the clock backwards on the rule of law, democracy and civil liberties.

    Hungary might be the worst example in the whole picture, but we also see a lot of problems in other Member States.

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    In Slovakia you have the situation where a journalist was murdered because of his investigation into corruption and fraud, and that is something which we need to deal with. We need to make sure it never happens again anywhere in the European Union. So we need to get active on that.