Interview with Hans-Gert Pottering, European Parliament Epp-Ed Group Leader : European Social Model Should Leave More Room for Individualism

European Social Policy, July 13, 2006 | Go to article overview

Interview with Hans-Gert Pottering, European Parliament Epp-Ed Group Leader : European Social Model Should Leave More Room for Individualism


Europolitics: How can Europe improve on its social aspects?Hans-Gert Pottering: We are in favour of a social market economy. This means the market on one side and social aspects, for improving people's quality of life, on the other. It's a question of balance. People also need to learn to take responsibility for themselves. A social market economy allows more room for personal development. But solidarity should always be the fundamental base of our society and relations between member states and the EU.Europolitics: Are you in favour of a new Community instrument for services of general interest?Hans-Gert Pottering: We should harmonise everything within the EU. Certain national regulations relating to the market exist. The principle of susidiarity is very important in this respect.Europolitics: Yes, but these services can be influenced by the Internal Market and subjected to its rules, surely then they can lose their full autonomy? Hans-Gert Pottering: It's a difficult question. We have special traditions in the different countries in the European Union. What we need is to find the right balance between the workings of the Internal Market, on one side and national traditions on the other. National traditions cannot always just be ignored in the name of the Internal Market. We need to look at each case individually. There is a way of combining national traditions and subsidiarity on the one hand with the workings of the Internal Market, the principles of free movement of people, workers, services and capital, on the other. There is no easy black and white solution. Europe is too complex to find a solution which encompasses subsidiarity and solidarity at the same time.Europolitics: Can Europe move forward without a Constitution?

Hans-Gert Pottering: It's important to have a Constitutional Treaty in substance at least. Real reform can only happen if we find a way to realise the substance and the principles of the Constitutional Treaty. We have to think about how we can make it possible.

Europolitics: You mention substance, does that mean that the word Constitution is no longer required?

Hans-Gert Pottering: Indeed, we need to find a way to realise the Treaty's substance in a way that is acceptable to the French and the Dutch. If we use a different word to describe the substance of the Constitutional Treaty that everybody can agree then I would have no objection.

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