Values of Europe

Rosenbad 16 september 2013
Birgitta Ohlsson, EU-minister

Values of Europe

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Thank you Anna for serving as moderator tonight.
Thank you to my amazing staff that makes this evening possible. Behind every hardworking minister there is a dedicated staff backing her or him up.

Thank you, and welcome to all who are dedicating a Monday evening to engage in a discussion on Europe. A discussion that affects us all, but which unfortunately receives far too little attention in Swedish media.
And of course a warm welcome to representatives from the different Embassies here.
In February 2011, I gave my first major policy speech as Minister for EU Affairs. Yesterday a journalist asked me whether it was just a little bit "pretentious" to give a policy in Swedish politics. Personally, I think that more women need to have the guts to be pretentious in politics.
But it does admittedly feel ceremonious, luxurious, and above all very humbling to, as a politician, be allowed to really elaborate on things.
In Brussels I often express myself in prepared speaking points reduced to three minutes.
On Twitter we all use our well-known 140 character posts.
And on TV a well-delivered one-liner must last no longer than twelve seconds.
For this reason it is so liberating to speak, clarify, and deliberate on a larger scale.
This being said, I will sadly not be able to cover all areas-as must as I would have wanted to.
It was a late summer day in 1992.
I was soon to begin my second year of high school at Katedralskolan in Linköping.
And like all my peers, I was trying to really make the most out of the last summer days, before getting back to my studies.
I remember that night. We were sitting in my grandmother and grandfather's living room in the small village of Brån in Västerbotten.
The TV evening news was just about to begin.
For the older people in the room--farmers who had only ever gone to school for a few semesters, born before the Second World War-this 30-minute TV-report suddenly propelled Europe back to the 1940s.
Names like Bergen Belsen, Buchenwald, and Theresienstadt were flung around the room. Where was Europe heading? How could this be happening again?
Every week thousands of new, terrified refugees arrived in Sweden from the Balkans.
We learned new names of terror, such as Omarska and Trnopolje. Three years later things culminated with the genocide in Srebrenica.
A picture on the cover of Time came to shock an entire world.
This picture came to be the catalyst for the Balkan peace process, which many years later ended the war started by Slobodan Milosevic.
His name is Fikret Alic.
He stands in the foreground among emaciated prisoners.
Hollow eyes. His body not much more than skin and bones.
More starving prisoners stand behind the barbed wire-victims of the mass killings.
Trnopolje in Bosnia.
Today, more than twenty years later, Alic describes the never-ending nightmares. The killing, the screams, the torture, and the blood never leave his head.
He describes the fear he felt when he thought that he would be killed by the prison guards since becoming a symbol in Western media for their tyranny.
He describes guards throwing nerve gas grenades into the barracks and shooting all those who tried to flee. And the guards ordering them to sing. But not even this drowned out the screams and the sounds of shooting guns.
The next day he and the other prisoners were forced to stack the dead bodies onto a truck. They were forced to wash away all the blood from the ground in order to hide the traces of the massacre.
Only nine days after this famous picture was taken he was able to flee, disguised as a Muslim woman. But many remained in the camp. Only four days later 200 men in the camp were executed. Alic fled to Denmark.
A Greek summer.
A Sunset.
Kids Club and umbrella drinks in the sunset.
Vacation, beach and books.
But a dark shadow falls over this vacation paradise.
"We are ready to open the ovens. We will make soap out of them to wash the cars and the streets. We will make lamps out of their skin."
This is not a quote from 1930's Germany.
These words come from one of Greece's fastest growing political parties-the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn.
This is Hassan Mekki
32 years old, he was one of the many young people who fled the war in Sudan, leaving his home country in hope of a better future. People have done exactly this throughout all of history in order to build a better future for themselves and for their families.
But Hassan had the great misfortune of crossing paths with the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn during a late night in Athens. They beat him until he was unconscious, and carved a cross onto his back. And since he is undocumented in an already economically weak Greece, there were few resources available to him.
Östergötland's countryside in August 2013.
At first glance, it like a picturesque summer-camp.
Here campers may kayak, compete in relay-races and quizzes.
The children are read stories and there is a jungle gym and other outdoor activities.
This camp's name is Nordic Vision.
This camp is organized by Svenskarnas Parti - "Party of the Swedes" - formerly known as Nationalsocialistisk Front.
A party that believes that only "ethnic Swedes" should be allowed to be citizens.
The camp itinerary includes speeches by many notorious right-wing extremists convicted of violent crime.
A camp in the middle of my own home region, where children are being indoctrinated with hatred and racial propaganda.
Hooligans armed with axes and bull whips, march through neighborhoods housing a large Roma population. They sing hateful songs, they vandalize private property, and they frighten children.
At the same time Hungary's elected representatives decide on sweeping constitutional changes.
These are not changes aimed at protecting the Roma minority.
But changes that challenge freedom of press and the independent judiciary.
Gera. Germany. The location of the neo-Nazi rock festival "Rock Germany."
A mob of youngsters from the festival venture out to the Buchenwald concentration camp memorial.
Upon arrival they ridicule and insult visiting Holocaust survivors.
In the shadow of the economic crisis a values crisis looms in Europe.
Anti-Ziganism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia and anti-Semitism are gaining ground.
Not since World War II have there been this many racist parties in EU national parliaments as today.
We often speak of the economic crisis in Europe.
But it is high time to also speak of the values crisis in Europe.
Because Europe is at a crossroads.
The elections to the European parliament next year will not only present a choice between Socialists, Liberals, Greens, and Conservatives.
It is a choice between those who believe in equality and those who do not.
It is a choice between those who believe in human rights and those who believe that human rights only belong to certain people.
It is a choice between righteous liberal values and reactionary movements.
It is a choice between those who believe in global solidarity and those who seek to close our borders.
Anyone who cares about Europe's future must safeguard democracy and our fundamental values.
A credible Europe does not compromise on fundamental values.
A credible Europe must act fast and efficiently when a member state violates human rights.
A credible Europe understands that the basis of our union is not only about economics but also about values.
What is needed today more than ever is resistance.
Resistance in the form of an active civil society.
Resistance in the form of individuals who dare take a stand when risks and costs are high.
Resistance in the form of governments who dare stand up for human rights-even when doing so is politically uncomfortable.
Everyone is in agreement that leadership is needed to create discipline in EU Member States' economies.
Leadership is equally essential in fostering member states' respect for human rights and democracy.
For this reason it is high time to establish an effective system to monitor how well EU Member States respect human rights.
I believe in a Europe that becomes first region in the world in which all EU Member States have a total ban on spanking and other forms of corporal punishment of children.
I believe in a Europe where all EU Member States respect a woman's right to choose.
I believe in a Europe where everyone feels safe enough to publicly hold the hand of the person they love, regardless of sexual orientation.
I believe in a Europe where equal rights and opportunities for all people are always of the highest priority.
In the Europe of the values crisis we need resolution, remembrance, and resistance.
Resolution to stand up for human rights.
Remembrance so that history never repeats itself.
Resistance - a vaccine against hatred.
SLIDE Europe 1975
Europe's astounding journey toward freedom. The EU definitely deserves both the Nobel Peace Prize and the label as the world's most successful Peace Project throughout history.
This is what Europe's current 28 Member States looked like when I was born in 1975. Not even half of them were democracies. Communism oppressed people in Eastern and Central Europe and many countries in Southern Europe had only recently emerged from military dictatorships.
This is what Europe looks like today.
"Europe must reform or decline"
This was the conclusion of the Gonzalez-report which I cited in my last policy speech two and a half years ago.
Since then the union has reformed on many areas. But this is not the case for all areas.
The situation in the Baltic countries was much more severe in the beginning of the crisis.
For our Swedish banks vast lending would have contributed to a deepening of the crisis.
At the beginning of the crisis, when the IMF representative met with the Latvian prime minister he said:
"This will be tough!"
The prime minister answered: "Tough? Things were tough when KGB snipers pointed their guns at me while I gave speeches."
Perhaps it is this fresh remembrance of liberation - at which point one third of the country's economy shrank - that is the reason Latvia has managed to sacrifice.
Politics is not only about will - it is also about choice.
In order to get through the crisis decisions were made to cut costs.
Latvian teachers lost one quarter of their salaries.
One tenth of the population moved abroad - in search of a better life.
It was not painless.
The social costs in our neighboring countries have been high.
There are no short-cuts.
This is important to remember when we discuss frozen salaries in Southern Europe.
Or greater mobility on the European labor market.
Our Baltic neighbors reformed. They made painful decisions.
Now they are back on track. They have not stagnated.
Perhaps they have not made up for all lost time.
But the trend is clear.
Unemployment rates have fallen. Latvia's economy has grown during the past three years.
All indications show that this will also be the case in coming years.
Many European countries have opted for a different path.
They've lived off borrowed money year in and year out.
They've used money that they didn't really have.
For four years in a row a majority of EU countries have broken EU:s own deficit rules.
For those who have credit cards, it is well known that it is alright to shop on credit for one month - or two months - or even three months.
But if one lives, year in and year out on borrowed money - the question is raised when, and if- the money will ever be repaid.
When this question is raised the solution cannot be that these most vulnerable countries borrow even more.
Because when interest rates rise, borrowed cash disappears into interest payments.
Sara owns two restaurants. Rucula and Lechuga in the center of Malaga.
Sales have decreased since the crisis began.
"For a while we had five chefs. Now we have two. The same goes for the waiters - we have had to cut back a lot."
When a small business owner like Sara needs to borrow in order to build a new kitchen - rising interest rates can be devastating.
If Sara's business goes bankrupt young people lose their jobs.
In the EU one in four young persons is without a job. In Spain, Greece and Croatia it is more common for young people to be unemployed than employed.
Having a job and a salary is fundamental to a sense of self-value.
Young people who have lost faith in the future is one of the most dangerous things there is.
Growing youth unemployment is Europe's greatest challenge.
But countries that still have some room to maneuver have a responsibility to stimulate their economies.
We have a responsibility to bring the whole EU out of the crisis.
So it is really excellent that Merkel has raised government salaries in Germany.
It was a wise decision by the Alliance to spend more on research.
It was a wise decision by the Alliance to spend more on infrastructure.
This leads to jobs and growth in both Sweden and the rest of the EU.
And this can ease unemployment.
"Support - comes with obligations."
"Solidarity - requires taking responsibility."
These are Angela Merkel's words from an election debate the other day.
In six days Germany will hold elections.
We will see whether the current government will be reelected.
Angela Merkel has taken a large responsibility in resolving the economic crisis.
But the solution cannot be that Germany's tax payers take over other countries' national debts.
Or pay other countries' unemployment costs.
I don't think there is popular support for moving money between countries year in and year out.
Countries cannot finance each other in the long-term. This will jeopardize the legitimacy of the union.
The solution is rather that we must continue the grueling task of making EU Member States more competitive.
We call it Europe 2020.
The goal is to make the union much more competitive by the year 2020.
We cannot afford to retire at age 55-60.
We cannot afford to have the world's most highly educated housewives.
We cannot afford to throw money at land owning counts and lords.
The EU budget, which makes up one percent of the EU's economy, reallocates money and can really stimulate growth.
We must show solidarity by contributing to growth in the poorer parts of the union.
Poland, for example, receives structural funds to the equivalent of 32 Öresund Bridges.
The new EU budget has finally left the fifties.
But the future is still quite a far away.
It is a tight budget. It has forced us to make priorities.
More for research. Less for agriculture.
I would have preferred an even more modern budget. In which we don't toss money onto the fields.
But it is a great step in the right direction.
We want our common currency to function.
We want the economies of EU-countries to function.
We want Europe's banks to function.
Because can anyone really say that our Swedish banks are exclusively Swedish?
For this reason we need a banking union. For supervision and a single resolution mechanism for the banks.
This will be important for financial stability in Sweden.
Both directly in Sweden and indirectly through the stabilization of our surroundings.
We care deeply about contributing to creating a good banking union.
Hopefully good enough for Sweden to join.
We believe, among other things, that all countries that join the banking union must have an equal say in it-even the non-Euro countries.
We are not ready to use Swedish tax money to bail out foreign banks.
But getting Europe's economy going is crucial to Sweden.
If one member state's economy collapses it affects us all.
We cannot export our goods and services.
We lose the money we have lent.
Sweden is not an isolated island.
Economic decisions in one member state are not only of national concern.
"In our world everything concerns everyone". To quote Vaclav Havel.
In the shadow of the economic crisis we need resolution, remembrance, and resistance.
Resolution to reform.
Remembrance of the hard work that made Europe prosper.
Resistance to those who want to conserve Europe.
SLIDE 45/85
85 percent is the share of Swedes who voted in the parliamentary election in 2010.
This is a high number. It is a very high number, compared to other countries.
45 percent is the share of Swedes who voted in the election to the European Parliament in 2009.
More than every other Swede did not take the opportunity to cast a vote
On May 25th next year it is time again.
Time again to elect 751 new members to the European Parliament, 20 from Sweden.
My goal is that half of the Swedish population of voting age will cast their ballots.
This may seem a modest goal, but it would be quite an improvement on last time.
To succeed we need to work hard. This goes especially for the political parties.
We must talk about Europe.
We must talk about what we want with this union.
We must talk about how Europe should evolve.
And we need to show the electorate that there are clear choices for voters.
That Liberals, Social Democrats, Greens, and Conservatives actually have completely different visions for European cooperation.
This is the case in Sweden. And in the rest of Europe.
I have said it once, but I will say it again.
The election next year is an election about values.
An election where EU:s fundamental values must be defended.
It is a litmus test for democracy.
There are already nationalist, right-wing, and populist parties in the European parliament.
Slide populist parties
These parties are growing stronger at home.
These parties have gotten into a growing number of national parliaments.
The Sweden Democrats.
Jobbik in Hungary.
Golden Dawn in Greece.
Geert Wilders's party in the Netherlands.
This is a dangerous development.
Those of us who believe in human rights must join forces
We must get people to cast their ballots on the 25th of May.
29% - this is the share of Europeans who feel negatively about the EU.
15% - was the corresponding number only 5 years ago.
This is the result of the economic crisis.
Faith in political systems is low in many parts of Europe.
We must take this seriously.
There is no quick-fix.
If we want to strengthen democracy.
If we want to make the EU more legitimate in the eyes of the citizens.
We need reform and hard work.
We must make the EU more open and comprehensible.
Sweden worked hard to implement a principle of public access to documents in the EU.
The rules are in place.
But the work for transparency must be improved - even if this is an uphill task.
The possibility to request documents from Brussels should be taken for granted, just like it is in Sweden.
We must strengthen democracy and the opportunities for influence.
An example: I must consult the Riksdag on what say in the Council. We have a parliamentary Committee on European Union Affairs.
This is not the case in all countries.
It may seem complicated and time-consuming. But democracy must be allowed to take time.
Decisions we make in the Council affect people's everyday lives.
For this reason the Swedish Riksdag and other national parliaments must be involved more.
We must safeguard the EU's institutions.
A strong European Commission. A strong European Parliament. A strong Council.
In which politicians and decision-makers can be held accountable.
These are three institutions which all need to work for the best for Europe.
It is important that Sweden has influence.
Because think of the alternative - that larger countries make their own deals.
We need institutions with integrity - which neither serve only lobbyists nor only larger countries.
To build legitimacy in Europe we need resolution, remembrance, and resistance.
Resolved politicians who dare stand up for the European idea.
Remembrance of the EU's original purpose.
Resistance to those who try to limit transparency.
The UK is one of Sweden's closest allies.
We both fight for free trade.
We both stand up for the single market.
We prioritize development cooperation.
For these reasons I am alarmed when I hear Brits speaking about leaving the union.
This would be devastating.
The EU would be poor without the UK - and the UK would be poor without the EU.
"If you don't like Europe the way it is - make it better!"
So said José Manuel Barroso in his speech last week. And he has a point.
The solution is not to make the EU weaker, but to make the union better and more effective. The EU needs to focus on the right things.
It is high time for a Swedish debate on how the EU can function more efficiently.
The EU should not do everything.
Why should the EU forbid restaurants from using their own olive oil dispensers?
Why should the EU pay for milk in schools?
Why should the EU regulate the share of European TV-programs on Swedish TV?
It is not surprising that many citizens are questioning.
These things provide no European added value.
We must not, need not, and should not make common decisions on these issues.
Or to quote Barroso:
"The EU needs to be big on the big things and smaller on the small things."
The Dutch prime minister has made a list of fields on which he wants less EU involvement and more power to the Member States.
Everything from olive oil to European Financial Transaction Tax.
Our Dutch colleagues' work is ambitious and rigorous.
"A more modest and sober - but more efficient European Union" is their slogan.
Germany's Angela Merkel - a true friend of Europe - has also expressed an interest in taking back certain competencies from Brussels.
"A leaner, but sharper EU".
This is a common motto in many of the Alliance's parties.
But in order to be really sharp, the EU cannot be too lean.
"Europe is not a vegetable stand - it is a political mission" said the federalist Ludwig Rosenberg.
It is not only about trade.
It is not only an internal market.
The EU is a peace project.
"Bureaucrats are better than soldiers", as MEP Marit Paulsen says.
The time of an "ever closer union" is over. So goes the talk in many European capitals.
But we do in fact need an "ever closer union".
We need more cooperation.
But only in areas where common solutions is the best option.
As Capital becomes more and more global.
Climate - more and more changed.
Crime - more transnational.
Competitiveness - more challenged.
Communication - more unlimited.
We must focus on these areas.
Many have compared the EU to a bicycle.
If you don't pedal - you fall.
And if your load is too heavy, you keel over.
We must adjust the speed so that we don't bike away from the citizens.
And we must know where we want to end up.
Political leaders in Europe are responsible for moving the European idea forward.
In order to create a smaller but sharper EU we need resolution, remembrance, and resistance.
Resolution to make the tough choices to improve the union.
Remembrance that the EU is a peace project.
Resistance against those who seek to shatter the union.
A job in a London café.
An afternoon stroll on Ströget.
A swim in the warm Mediterranean.
These are dreams that have gotten generation after generation of young Swedes to travel around Europe.
Those born in the forties hitch-hiked, those born in the sixties went on Interrail and those born in the eighties zip about Europe on budget flights.
For a few hundred Crowns one can easily travel to Barcelona for the weekend on a direct flight from Skellefteå.
Free movement in Europe improves the quality of life for all of us.
It is also important for our economy.
It allows consumers to choose between more goods and services, especially on the Internet.
It allows companies to select the best competence among half a billion people.
Through increased mobility, the threshold is lower for small businesses seeking to establish themselves on export markets.
A ticket price of 1000 Crowns versus 10 000 Crowns could be the critical difference that determines whether a small business decides to travel to a global industry fair in Germany.
A trip which could in turn lead to a first export contract.
The weak Euro gives Germany a competitive advantage which they would never have had with the D-mark.
Germany is still a larger exporter than China.
Germany industry is strong.
At the same time unemployment is rising in southern Europe.
We recognize from Sweden of the 1960's .
Unemployment rose in the North while Stockholm was screaming for a capable workforce.
Through a "moving policy" people got jobs and our wealth could be spread.
In the EU of today structural funds contribute to leveling out wealth between poor and rich countries. But in the long-term we need to be willing to move.
Europe lacks the kind of American mobility that enables young Americans to move between states to seek out growth regions.
For this reason it is sad that an increasing number of member states are sounding alarms about social tourism and want to make it harder to move between countries.
In order to rise out of the economic crisis Europe's leaders need to stimulate movement broadly.
In Vilhelm Moberg's classic novel "The Emigrants" the neighboring farmers question Kristina and Karl-Oskar's decision to emigrate to America. Karl-Oskar answers:
"But did anyone gain in wisdom from living in on the same place and tramping in the same furrows all of his life? If a man's wisdom increased because he remained all his life on the patch where he was born, then the oldest farmers in the parish should by now possess more wisdom than King Solomon himself."
We need a European Moving Policy - "if the job doesn't move to me I need to move to the job."
It is especially important that those who are young, who have not yet started a family, and who are having a hard time getting a job, dare apply for a job both inside and outside the borders of their own country.
Erasmus, the student exchange program, is great for getting young academics to find jobs in other EU Member States.
But it is equally important that other professions have the same access to mobility on the internal market.
It is great that the exchange program Erasmus+ next year will begin to include vocational education programs.
The welder in Thessaloniki could find a job in Stuttgart.
The construction worker in Múrcia could find a job in Munich.
The nurse in Sofia could find a job in Solna.
We need more vocational training, more exchange programs, and more apprenticeships in Europe today.
The transition from school to work must be more seamless.
When we look at European youth unemployment - we realize that we have much to learn from Germany and Austria.
We have a common stake in making sure Europeans have jobs.
We have a common stake in the success of European companies.
For this we need resolution, remembrance, and resilience.
Resolution to stimulate movement.
Remembrance of what has created our wealth.
Resistance to those who seek to close our borders.
This is Hana. She is twelve years old.
She makes the peace sign to her thirteen-year-old sister Eva after surviving the Syrian Assad-regime's bombing of their house.
By Christmas, the war will have been going on for a thousand days.
100 000 people have been killed since the beginning of the conflict.
Thousands dead in a gas attack.
Two million people have fled Syria
One million of them are children.
97% percent of those who escape the conflict end up in neighboring countries.
Only a small fraction finds a safe haven in Europe.
The images from this hell affect everyone.
Europe has a responsibility.
A responsibility in the spirit of solidarity to provide humanitarian aid. To contribute to more humane living conditions when people flee from war and conflicts.
A responsibility to provide a safe haven from persecution, violence, and assaults.
I am proud that Sweden is the first EU Member State to grant permanent residence to all Syrian refugees.
I am proud that our EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has accomplished an asylum package that will make Member States share the responsibility.
When war is raging and people are fleeing we need resolution, remembrance, and resistance.
Resolution to stand up for global solidarity.
Remembrance of the Holocaust, Rwanda, and Srebrenica.
Resistance against those who want to close Europe.
Last week this picture circled around national media.
President Barack Obama giving the thumbs up.
He gave the thumbs up when I told him that there are more women than men in the Swedish government cabinet.
I was so excited that I responded h two thumbs up.
His message was clear: we need more women in powerful positions.
A day later Göran Hägg, a rhetoric export, visits the largest morning TV-show. He sits on the sofa pontificating, ridiculing the fact that six female ministers saw Obama off at Arlanda Airport.
I am fed up with the complaints of old-fashioned men.
I am tired of hearing that the struggle is won.
I am tired of hearing that feminism needs to take a break.
These men set European interest rates.
I have definitely not become less of a feminist since becoming a minister.
My most recent EU Ministers' meeting in Vilnius.
Am I at a ministerial meeting or have I slid into a men's club?
Our labor market - divided up by gender - and our decision making bodies - unequally represented lie like a wet blanket over Europe.
Millions of women in the EU cannot work at all, or as much as they would like to.
They cannot work because they shoulder the heavy burden of taking care of a home, raising children, and caring for the elderly lies on them.
In Malta, only two out of five women are employed.
In Germany school children go home in the middle of day - to have lunch often served by their mother.
In Spain birthrates have fallen to half of what they were only one generation ago.
Europe's women are very well-educated. More women than men study at university.
Despite this only 60% of working aged women in the Union have a job.
Europe cannot afford to have the world's most highly educated housewives.
If women were in paid employment to the same extent as men, Europe's GDP could grow by more than 20%.
This is an enormous untapped potential for society.
It is a tremendously important freedom for an individual to have his or her own money.
Today many of Europe's women lack this freedom.
For in our gender divided Europe women still take the largest responsibility for the children and the home.
In several EU countries there is no childcare for kids under the age of three.
Many women therefore must make a choice between a family and a career.
Even though everyone should be able to have both.
As men have always done.
As long as patriarchal structures prevail we need resolution, remembrance, and resistance.
Resolution to show our daughters the path.
Remembrance of the struggle that has brought us here.
Resistance to whining, old-fashioned men.
Three years ago only four ships sailed between Europe and Asia through the North-East Passage. The route north of Russia.
This year 270 ships have applied for a permit to sail through the increasingly ice-less passage.
Something has happened to our climate!
While the economic crisis has held our attention we have lost political pressure on climate issues.
But the fact that we are no longer talking about it has not made the threat disappear.
The steps Swedes have taken to reduce climate impact are important.
But the steps of half a billion Europeans will have a far greater impact.
Trading in emission rights is our most important tool against climate change.
When the market was created we did not yet know that we were embarking on a crisis of long duration.
A crisis that has decreased energy use.
Which is why today there is actually a surplus of emission rights.
In a way this a good thing, since emissions have decreased.
But when emission rights are almost free, long-term investments in modern energy solutions drop.
The Commission has proposed that emission rights be tabled.
This is a good thing - for prices will rise in the short-term and get the trade working again.
During the 19th century the French market was swamped in light.
The French candle makers asked the king for protection against the powerful competitor. The candle makers demanded that the windows of the country be boarded up.
The competitor was in fact the sun.
This is a fictionalized satire composed by the economist Frédéric Bastiat.
Unfortunately the Commission proposal that Europeans should be protected against clean and cheap solar power through various trade barriers is no satire.
In the Mediterranean countries solar power is cheaper today than other power sources, since the price of solar panels has dropped to a quarter of what it was four years ago.
In order to protect the 8,000 Europeans who produce solar panels - from Chinese competition - the Commission is ready to jeopardize the climate, the energy supply, and the jobs of the over 200,000 Europeans who install the panels.
To quote Benjamin Franklin:
"No nation has ever been ruined by trade."
The climate needs both an emissions trade and free trade.
In a time of climate change we need resolution, remembrance, and resistance.
Resolution to reform society.
Remembrance that the sun is not a competitor.
Resistance instead of coal.
The year during which I was chairperson of Swedish Liberal Youth.
Since then I have spent eight years as a Member of Parliament.
I have been a Minister for three and a half years.
Founded the liberal feminist network Felira.
Chaired the liberal women's organization and the anti-monarchy organization.
Gotten married. Had a baby. Traveled and visited about one hundred countries.
During this entire time the Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak has been imprisoned without a trial.
It is an outrage and a crime that can hardly be described with words.
We know that Eritrea is one of the worst countries on earth when it comes to freedom of expression.
But many other countries fail to respect free speech.
More than 600 journalists have been murdered during the past ten years.
In other words, a journalist loses her or his live while working to spread news and information to the public every week.
In a democracy a free, independent, and pluralistic media environment is a must.
But sadly the struggle for freedom of press is more urgent today than in a long time also in EU Member States.
We see a frightening development in Bulgaria which reaches only 87th place on Reporter without Borders press freedom index.
The EU risks a devaluation of its world leading position in respect for free speech .
If the EU cannot live up to freedom of the press at home, how can the union have any credibility in criticizing totalitarian regimes around the world?
The EU has a responsibility to hold the proud banner of a free press high. This is important in a world where humanity is not allowed to think, opine, or believe freely.
"A free press could be good or bad, but one thing is for sure, without freedom a press cannot be anything other than bad," Albert Camus said once.
Malala Yousafzai. Brutally attacked.
Savita Halappanavar. Was refused an abortion and died.
Malala was shot by Talibans because she spoke out for girls' rights to an education.
Savita was denied an abortion in an EU-country. She died when the dying foetus poisoned her body.
Three female fates that show that the struggle for women's human rights is one of the greatest challenges of our time.
Maternal mortality is sometimes referred to as the disaster the powers forgot.
In Sweden the risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth is about 1 in 17 000. In Niger the risk is 1 in 7.
When I had a child my thoughts concerned choice of maternity wards and baby carriages.
If I lived in Niger I would only ask myself one question. Will I survive?
In order to build more stable democracies more women need to participate in building democracy.
If women die during childbirth or because of illegal, unsafe abortions their ability to shape their societies and the future is forever annihilated.
Millions of women in Europe still do not have the right to free, legal, and safe abortions.
In order for the EU to be the strong, credible voice for gender equality globally we have to stand up for sexual and reproductive rights at home.
World Economic Forum organizes training programs for the leaders of the future. I am a member of their leadership program Young Global Leaders.
This past Easter I had the privilege of studying at Harvard Kennedy School. An older, male professor extended his arms to us when saw our group. He said: This is what I think the leaders of tomorrow look like.
A majority of us were women.
A majority was from Asia.
The global map of growth and wealth is being redrawn. It is being redrawn fast.
Today the EU accounts for a quarter of the global economy.
In 2030 it is estimated that it will have shrunk to an eighth of the global economy.
By 2050 this figure will be about eight percent.
By 2050 it is predicted that Asia will own almost half of the resources of the world.
Fundamentally, this is fair - 60 percent of the world's population lives in Asia.
Fundamentally, this is positive.
Hundreds of millions of people are moving from poverty to wealth.
From hunger to fullness. From vulnerability to safety.
But we also need to get growth going - in order to maintain Europe's wealth.
Free trade is an important tool to this end.
The EU and the US account for half of global GDP.
We account for a third of the world's trade flows.
Every day goods and services are traded over the Atlantic for 15 billion crowns.
A free trade agreement with the US can create profits in the EU for 1,000 billion Crowns per year.
More than the Swedish national budget. Almost an EU budget.
The US will gain almost as much. Since both parties benefit from trade.
Therefore it is important to expand free trade with Africa. Especially with North Africa.
Wealth is a vaccine against radicalization.
Wealth stimulates democratic development.
Through more trade with Tunisia the EU can support economic development.
I would rather eat strawberries grown in Tunisia than subsidized ones from France.
The EU's agricultural policy must be deregulated.
"Hasn't Sweden always been part of the EU?"
The astonished question of a student in a school I visited this past spring.
It has now been 20 years since the referendum on EU Membership.
Many of next year's first-time voters were born in the European Union.
For them, EU Membership is obvious.
Perhaps not something to love - but not either something to hate.
It is simply there - like the highway following the Öresund Bridge.
When I was in high school only those with rich parents could dream of studying abroad.
Going abroad was exotic and luxurious. Today many Swedes have the opportunity to save up for a weekend trip to any European capital of their choosing.
Who is Sweden in this collaboration?
We don't have the Euro, but I would say that we are an active EU Member.
We work for competition, free trade, and the internal market.
We work for common, tough rules that require countries to take responsibility for public finances.
We work for an EU climate policy worthy the name.
We work for a common, humane asylum policy.
We work for an EU that plays a serious and reliable role in the world, and for continued EU enlargement.
But if the EU is to act forcefully we need to have the people with us.
Therefore the union needs more transparency, democracy, and accountability.
We will not ally with those who want to shatter or weaken the European Union.
We will ally with those who want to keep the union together and develop the union.
We have different wills and experiences, but common values.
The point of the EU is that we are dependent on each other.
Therefore we will collaborate on areas where we must work together to reach results.
This how European collaboration has been able to last and develop during the past 60 years.
Sweden has an important role to play in the EU.
For this we need resolution, remembrance, and resistance.
Resolution to move the European idea forward.
Remembrance that the EU is a peace project.
Resistance against those who aim to shatter the union.

On July 1 Croatia joined the EU.
This is strong proof of EU:s peace and democracy building roll.
The EU's soft power.
Enlargement should continue.
As the Balkan countries meet the criteria they should be allowed to join.
The young people on Gezi Square in Turkey were protesting against the country's authoritarian regime.
They long for a freer government.
The young people acted like good Europeans. In accordance with EU values.
Eventually, I hope that the young people on Gezi Square will be EU citizens.
You remember Fikret Alic. The man who was tortured in the Trnopolje camp in 1992.
He has moved back to his native land to rebuild his future there.
The wounds have not healed, but still, there is a hope about a better future.
This past year I visited his Bosnia.
His Bosnia Hercegovina has great challenges, but also so much hope about a better future.
For a credible EU globally we need resolution, remembrance, and resistance.
Resolution to make Europe the global role model for peace, freedom, and free trade.
Remembrance of the values we built the union on.
Resistance against dictatorship and oppression.
I believe that Karl Popper expressed it best: "The search for a better world - is the oldest and most important of all instincts."

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