The 2020 State of the European Union debate came at a time of uncertainty and MEP Legutko warned: “I repeat, Europe will be wrecked.” Is he right?
Europe faces one of its toughest years yet as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to impact all aspects of society. This year key players in the European Parliament discussed the priorities of the European Union, The State of the European Union is one of the year’s most important debates.
On 16 September 2020, during the plenary session in the European Parliament in Brussels, Ursula von der Leyen delivered her first State of the European Union (SOTEU 2020). The annual State of the Union debate is a chance for MEPs to scrutinise the work and the plans of the European Commission. The Members of the European Parliament help set the future for the EU. In the wake of Brexit, the migration crisis and the terrorist threats, this SOTEU debate was more important than ever.
MEP Ryszard Antoni Legutko
Ryszard Antoni Legutko, born 24 December 1949, is a Polish philosopher and politician, and professor of philosophy at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, specializing in ancient philosophy and political theory. MEP Mr Ryszard Antoni Legutko is a member of the European Parliament since 14 July 2009 for “Prawo i Sprawiedliwość”. In the European Parliament has joined with the European Conservatives and Reformists, the ECR Group.
Legutko is elected on behalf of Poland. Under communism he was one of the editors of the samizdat quarterly “Arka“. After the collapse of the communist regime he co-founded the Centre for Political Thought, which combines research, teaching, seminars and conferences and is also a publishing house.
Philosopher, Politician or both?
Mr Legutko is chair of the European Conservatives and Reformists and his positions on several policy areas have a special meaning for the Future of Europe. Legutko said in 2014 that same-sex marriage is an “unnecessary, destructive experiment.” He has argued that “homophobia” is “a stick with which you beat people who dare to raise any kind of objection” and “a totally fictitious problem” and claimed that “Christians are the group that have been most discriminated against”. He has described dressing as priests and nuns in gay pride demonstrations as “aggressive, anti-Christian and shocking”. Ryszard Antoni Legutko at SOTEU debate: “Europe will be wrecked“. What did Polish MEP mean by this? Is he right?
Debate on Brexit and its consequences
MEP Mr Ryszard Antoni Legutko said: “Mr Juncker will forever be remembered as the Commission President who lost Britain.
You, Mrs von der Leyen, must make sure that you are not the President who lost the people of Europe.
Ursula von der Leyen’s speech had a health-orientation, greener, more digital, more value-oriented and more culture-friendly. In a well-carefully prepared speech, running for more than an hour, the Commission President announced a series of new proposals. While the UK’s departure from the EU only received a brief mention in the speech. EU Chief mentioned the words of Margaret Thatcher in order to highlight the importance of trust in relations. This could be the Presidential replay to MEP Mr. Legutko critisism.
And that is not just me saying it – I remind you of the words of Margaret Thatcher:
“Britain does not break Treaties. It would be bad for Britain, bad for relations with the rest of the world, and bad for any future Treaty on trade”.
This was true then, and it is true today.
Trust is the foundation of any strong partnership.
What is the State of the European Union?
The State of the European Union debate is always a key moment to demonstrate the European Commission’s accountability. It is a crucial EU debate towards the democratically elected representatives. It focuses on important issues like the coming economic recovery, climate change, youth unemployment and migration flows. This annual event is significant to promote a more transparent and democratic Union. It is an opportunity to bring the European Union closer to the citizens, highlighting the year’s core action points and challenges. Citizens’ rights and the democratic process are at the heart of this unique plenary debate.
Ursula von der Leyen advocated a Europe emerging stronger from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and paving the way for a new vitality. NextGenerationEU, the new instrument for recovery, is a unique opportunity of changing in this direction. In her speech, Ursula von der Leyen presented the actions of the European Commission in order to give Europe the means to become green, digital and more resilient.
Also watch here the video of MEP Mr. Legutko critisism: “I repeat, Europe will be wrecked.“
MEP Ryszard Antoni Legutko, on behalf of the ECR Group
Statement by MEP ECR Group Leader
Mr President, the last decade has been rather turbulent for the European Union and the problems will of course continue. The EU today is in a worse shape than it was ten years ago.
I therefore find it rather puzzling that every year over the last decade we have heard from every Commission President that a radiant future is awaiting us and that the days of EU glory are just around the corner, provided of course that the European Commission and the European institutions get more competences. You must be aware, Madam President, that fewer and fewer people across Europe take this message seriously. The European Health Agency, the European Cloud, the European Bauhaus – I wonder if the new European architecture will resemble this building. What a frightening perspective.
Madam President, the gist of your argument today was that the pandemic crisis is a good opportunity to launch ambitious radical programmes, including the Green Deal. I’m sorry to say it, but this is a bad argument. This is bad logic and bad logic generates bad policy. What you are proposing is a great leap forward in a situation in which the future is more precarious than ever. The Green Deal with 55% – why not 60? – is a costly extravaganza, animated solely by a spirit of environmentalist crusade, not by a sober social and economic calculation.
Now a few words on the so-called rule of law provisions. I say ‘so-called’ because it has nothing to do with rule or with law. The whole idea, as you remember, was an iniquitous trick of the previous Commission, in complete disregard of the treaties, with the intention of bullying the governments that dissented from the mainstream. It is not what those governments do, because they don’t do anything objectionable, but what they are. The previous Commission let a malignant genie out of the bottle, a genie of political foul play, and they are not interested in putting it back. This so -called conditionality is another step towards complete lawlessness, the prospect of which makes the majority of my colleagues almost ecstatic.
Madam President, do not be deluded by the sanctimonious rhetoric you hear in this Chamber. As usual, behind sanctimoniousness, there is ugly politics and there is hypocrisy. What this rule of politics amounts to is brutal majoritarianism. The mainstream majority wants to crush every form of dissent. Do not open the door for more instruments of the tyranny of the majority, as you promised you would do. That was the scariest part of your speech. This is already getting uglier and uglier, wider and more mendacious. The European institutions want to switch off the democratically constituted institutions of the nation states. They instigate internal conflicts by endorsing some parties rather than other parties. This is not your business. You shouldn’t do it. This is political arrogance at its worst.
Ryszard Antoni Legutko – Europe will be wrecked.
If we continue if you and your commission continue on the current course, the course espoused by many of my fellow leaders here this morning, Europe will be wrecked. I repeat, Europe will be wrecked, caught in an ideological pincer movement orchestrated by green and federalist extremists.
Mr Juncker will forever be remembered as the Commission President who lost Britain. You, Ms von der Leyen, must make sure that you are not the President who lost the peoples of Europe. I urge you to work with the Member States, not with the ideologically-driven campaigns masquerading as political groups in this House. Save the European Union from ideology and return it to reality.