European Council
Council of the European Union

Speech by President Donald Tusk at the EPP congress in Madrid

European Council
  • 22/10/2015
  • 17:15
  • Statements and remarks
  • 740/15
  • Home Affairs
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Preben Aamann
European Council President Spokesperson
+32 22815150
+32 476850543

First of all, I would like to thank and applaud Prime Minister Rajoy. In many ways, Mariano is a role model for many of us. During his term, the reform policies introduced by his party, Partido Popular, have been responsible for Spain's recovery and strong economic performance. Spain has also achieved unprecedented results when it comes to fighting terrorism and, importantly, it has coped with containing illegal migration. Your experiences should be an example for all the members of the EPP family. Congratulations, Mariano.

As a political community, we are responsible for the condition of European solidarity, openness and freedom. And this means that we can no longer allow solidarity to be equivalent to naivety, openness to be equivalent to helplessness, freedom to be equivalent to chaos. And by that, I am of course referring to the situation on our borders. 

If we want Europe to continue on its path of solidarity, openness and freedom, we cannot abdicate--as the political leaders of many countries--from our most important duties, and to surrender our attributes of public authority. And the primary duty of public authority has always been to provide security for its own community, and to protect its own territory. Today, no task is more important for the moderate centre-right than the re-establishment of Europe's external borders. And not in order to make Europe into an inaccessible fortress, but to effectively protect the values I have just mentioned.     

When it comes to solidarity, I feel like a professional with lifelong experience. Believe me when I say, that solidarity requires strength and effectiveness. If you want to help others, you need to first be able to take care of yourself and your loved ones. A Europe which is naïve, helpless and disorganised will be unable to display solidarity in the long run.

We must end at once this completely unnecessary argument between the proponents of protecting external borders and the advocates of solidarity and openness. Both are among us here today. What we need is a rational hybrid of both ways of thinking. We cannot pretend any longer that the great tide of migrants is something that we want, and that we are conducting a well thought-out policy of open borders. The truth is different: we have lost our ability to protect our borders, and in this sense, our  openness is not our conscious choice, but a proof of our weakness. On the other hand, we cannot give-in to populism and xenophobia, because our political aim should be to strengthen Europe against right-wing extremists, and not to become like them.

From the beginning of the migration crisis, I have been a proponent of collective responsibility for the security of our borders, as it is a pre-condition for any migration policy, whatever we understand by that. A collective responsibility and effective actions on our borders will allow us to re-build genuine solidarity among Member States, and to bring an end to the shameful arguments over relocation. Because ordinary citizens are ready and willing to help migrants, but at the same time, they expect their leaders to fulfil the basic duties of public authority. Citizens want to feel safe again, because only then will they be capable of helping people in need. This is a good and healthy principle. And Madrid is the best place to remind us of this.       

Mariano, let me repeat in Spanish what I have said in the beginning of my speech, because I deeply believe in this.

Estimado Mariano,  hoy todos deberíamos sentirnos orgullosos del papel de España en Europa. Creo que la gestión que ha hecho este país de algunas de las dificultades más terribles de los últimos años es ejemplar: me estoy refiriendo a la crisis financiera, a la lucha contra el terrorismo y a la crisis migratoria.

Creo que la contribución del conjunto de España en el manejo de estas crisis es extraordinaria y sé que esto entraña un alto grado de implicación, dedicación y un gran esfuerzo personal por parte de su Presidente. Aunque a veces, Mariano, seas demasiado modesto  para reconocerlo. Mariano, estamos con vosotros!