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Danish PM: What’s good for euro is good for Europe

23/01/12 21:06 CET

Denmark took over the rotating presidency of the European Union at the beginning of January, and its Social-Democrat prime minister stands out in a Europe dominated by the right.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt recently presented her country’s programme for the next six months to the European Parliament.

euronews caught up with her there and began with the new budgetary compact.

Audrey Tilve, euronews:

“Prime Minister, first of all thank you for being with us on euronews. This fiscal pact, shaped by 26 member states is supposed to be the solution for the crisis. But it is already wildly seen as insufficient.”

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Danish Prime Minister:

“I think the fiscal act (sic) is seen as not happening fast enough and that’s why we are working very hard – everyone is working very hard – for the fiscal compact to be adopted as soon as possible, so there’s a firm ground under our debt crisis and also reminding us that each member state has to keep track of their economy, have to have the necessary responsibility in terms of their economy. That is one of the reasons why Denmark, which is not a eurozone country, is planning to join (in) as much as possible the new discipline of the new fiscal compact.”

euronews:

“But we already know that is has been watered down a lot, that there will be exemptions to the fiscal discipline, that the Commission won’t play a big part, that the European Court won’t play a big part either. Isn’t this a bit disappointing?”

Helle Thorning-Schmidt:

“This is being negotiated, this is a work in progress and I think it’s to early to judge whether it’s an improvement or not. I’m convinced that more discipline, more focus on each member state, keeping their economy in order is a good thing for Europe because it’s a good thing for the euro.

euronews:

“There’s nothing really new about this pact. The commission says that 95 percent of what is in the pact did not require a new treaty. So why such a risky move? Because some countries – including Denmark – might have to hold a referendum.”

Helle Thorning-Schmidt:

“We don’t have that debate at this stage, because it is obvious that we want to see the result first. I don’t envisage a referendum at all, but we need to see the result and it is the resolve of the Danish government that we want to join (in) as much as possible.”

euronews:

“During the last summit there were leaks about the way President Sarkozy snubbed you as a newcomer and your country as a non euro-member. Is Denmark, is the Danish EU-presidency bound to be overshadowed by France and Germany when it comes to dealing with the crisis?”

Helle Thorning-Schmidt:

“First of all I think it’s important not to believe everything you read in the press – that’s always good advice. But also, we should appreciate that the euro-member states have taken a huge responsibility. People always say, ‘Oh, Merkel, she’s deciding to much, she’s taking too much on herself.’ I appreciate that the biggest member state of all of us is actually taking a big responsibility and I think we should not look down on that and scorn that. We should appreciate it.”

euronews:

“You are one of the very few left-wing leaders in Europe at the moment and you do stress the importance of reviving growth in this times of austerity. What exactly and concretely are you trying to achieve in less than six months?”

Helle Thorning-Schmidt:

“We need to focus on how to get new jobs, new growth in Europe. One of the ways of doing that is to revive the single market. The internal market has been one of the biggest successes of our union and it is my position that if we revive that, renew our internal market, for example by adopting the roaming directive, the energy efficiency directive, other concrete directives, than we have a chance of creating a new foundation of new growth and new jobs in Europe.”

euronews:

“So this is about legislation but… concrete incentives in less than six months?”

Helle Thorning-Schmidt:

“Well directives and dossiers on the table – that IS concrete and tangible. They can make a difference for the European citizens. The Danish presidency is about getting results for Europe, so we can see there is a path out of the crisis, a path were we again have growth, prosperity and jobs in Europe, and to do that we need to revive the internal market.”

euronews:

“Denmark has four opt-outs on European policy: monetary union: defence, home and justice and EU-citizenship. Do you plan to give up any of this, and if so, when?”

Helle Thorning-Schmidt:

“We are actually, we are planning to renew the discussion on home and justice affairs and also the defence policies. I have been of the view for many years, actually since ’92, that it would be better for Denmark and for Danes to be part of these two areas as well as the euro. We will debate that with the Danes and it is our plan to put that to a referendum.”

euronews:

“(You) talked about the euro too – because Denmark is quite dependent on the rest of Europe and actually the Danish crown is pegged to the euro. Isn’t it is a little bit of an illusion for Danes to think that they are maybe safe or more autonomous without the single currency?”

Helle Thorning-Schmidt:

“I’m in favour of the euro and have been for many years. I think it would be good for the Danish economy to be part of the euro. But I also say that the time is not for that debate right now. The Danish crown is pegged to the euro, we will continue to be so and that is good for the Danish economy at this stage.”

euronews:

“One question about Hungary: the Commission has launched the procedure against the government for the damage being done to the state of law. Should Europe isolate Hungary? The European Parliament is ambiguous and most states are quite silent on this issue.”

Helle Thorning-Schmidt:

“I think it would be a huge mistake to isolate a member state, where you want to say something to that member state. What is happening right now is the correct way of approaching a country that you think is not in line with our treaties. we have the commission whose job it is – whose ‘raison d‘être’ it is – to make sure that the treaties are being kept and now they have decided to start an infringement procedure against Hungary. That’s the correct way of doing it and the Danish presidency have backed that way of doing it all through this discussion we had for the last weeks.”

euronews:

“Do you hope that the government will come in line with what the Commission is asking for?”

Helle Thorning-Schmidt:

“Yes, that goes without saying that all member states of our union they have to comply with the rules that they have signed up to. That goes for all our rules but particularly the core of our rules which is about democracy, pluralism and all these things that are so important and such important values for our union.”

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