With polls predicting a record low turnout for the elections to the European Parliament later this week, the leaders of France and Germany have issued a joint plea urging voters to cast their ballots.
A "strong Europe does not necessarily mean more powers for the European Union, even more European legislation or increased financial demands," Sarkozy and Merkel wrote. "We don't want a bureaucratic Europe." Instead the two called for an EU "that gives brave answers to the questions of our time, in order to secure our prosperity."
The two conservative leaders emphasized the role the EU can play in regulating the financial sector and said that steps to assure "real regulation" should be taken at the next EU summit in June.
"The unregulated market failed," the two leaders wrote. "It led to the severe crisis that we find ourselves in now."
Sarkozy and Merkel wrote that the when it comes to "speculative funds, tax havens, payment for executives and financial traders," they wanted to see "Europe as a role model for others."
The two politicians called for the World Trade Organization's Doha round of trade talks to be brought to a successful end "as soon as possible," and stated that in the absence of an effective global system to prevent distortions in competition, "interim European solutions" would have to be considered. The Doha talks which have dragged on for years and collapsed last year are aimed at lowering trade barriers and promoting free trade.
The pair also gave strong backing to the Lisbon Treaty, which stalled last June after Ireland rejected it in a referendum. "Europe must play a leading role in the world," they wrote. "For that, it must have efficient institutions." The treaty aims to streamline Europe's institutions and decision-making processes and could be ratified later this year if Ireland supports it in a second referendum expected to be held in the autumn.
The two leaders, both known opponents to Turkey's membership of the bloc, reaffirmed that stance, albeit without naming the country. "To be able to act, the EU cannot be without borders. Unlimited enlargement is not possible," they wrote.
The statement ended with a call to the EU citizens to take part in the elections. "That is the best means to reach our goal of a strong EU in a safe world."
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