The first live debate between presidential candidates was held in partnership with the European Youth Forum and the University of Maastricht.
It was the first event of its kind in the history of European politics and comes a month before the European elections, when around 400 million Europeans will be asked who they want to represent them in the European parliament.
The four candidates took to the stage in Maastricht, Netherlands to debate a number of topics. The first: Europe’s economy.
Martin Schulz, European Socialist Party
“The biggest problem for those enterprises to create the most of the jobs in the countries with the highest unemployment rate. Spain, for example, or Portugal, agrees is the credit crunch for medium and small enterprises. I would suggest a credit programme for middle and small enterprises and those who employ, on the basis of a credit programme led by the European Union, young people should have a privilege on the interest rates or on the time and duration of reimbursement.
Ska Keller, European Green Party
“What we need is really investment into the future. Investment into the things that society needs, like transforming our economy, making it greener so that we are also stopping the climate change, investing into things like education and the health service because that’s something that is really beneficial to society, but it is also creating jobs, jobs of quality because I very much agree it’s not just about any jobs, people need jobs that they can live off, that give them a perspective and not exploitative jobs.
Jean Claude Juncker, European People’s Party
“I am in favour of investing more in the digital market, more in the completion of the internal market that brings an added value of 500 billion to Europe and I’m in favour of a European fight against social dumping, that is the reason I am strongly in favour since many, many years of…a legal minimum wage in all the 28 countries of the European Union.
*A question from a member of the audience: *
“How can you reassure us that you are capable of carrying out the economic proposals when the real decision power lies with the European council and not with the commission?”
Guy Verhofstadt, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats
“You need, again, a president of the Commission who has a vision for the future and who is leading this European Commission and who is using the right of initiative… We need to put proposals and legislative package on the table of the Council and… not what they are doing, what Mister Barroso is doing now. First he phones to Paris then to Berlin. In fact it is the opposite, it’s first Berlin and then to Paris and only when he has a green light of both then he takes an initiative. Far too little and far too late. We need again a European government, a European Commission that has the lead.
To help 400 million Europeans make their choice on May 25 the debate also focused on other topics: the future of the EU, the rise in skepticism of the EU project, immigration and European foreign policy.