Florence Debate highlights stark choice facing voters

02/05/2019

Frans Timmermans speaks on stage at the Florence debate

Frans Timmermans speaks at the Florence Debate.

Another strong performance from PES Common Candidate Frans Timmermans in the Florence debate today underlined the clear choice facing European voters – a progressive Europe built on cooperation, or a divided Europe focused on confrontation.

Speaking at the opening of the debate Frans Timmermans said:

“By the end of this month, you will have to take a crucial decision. A decision not just about which policies, which mix of left and right and centre politics, but a decision about the soul of Europe, the very essence of Europe. 

“We’ve seen today again in Budapest the love fest of Orban and Salvini, promising a Europe of Borders, of exclusion, based on an idea of family values which just means continuing to discriminate. There is an alternative to that. And I’m sure the majority of the European people want an alternative to that. They want to go forward, not backward. They want history as an inspiration, not as a goal. They want to see discrimination combatted, they want equality, not just between men and women, which is far from a reality still, but also equality between different religions, between different origins, between different nationalities. They want cooperation, not confrontation. They want us to find solutions together.”

In a wide-ranging debate covering migration, socio-economic policies, climate change, and security and foreign policy, the PES Common Candidate set out a range of PES proposals. He advocated for ensuring ecological and social sustainability, creating a circular economy, ensuring big corporations pay fair tax, and highlighted the need to support those on low and middle incomes.

The PES Common Candidate was joined at the debate, organised by the European University Institute and the Financial Times newspaper, by candidates for the President of the European Commission from the European People’s Party (EPP), the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), and the Greens.