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Speech of vice-chairman of EPP

Added 5/27/2017
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Press release - 27. 5. 2017
Dear Chairman Bělobrádek,
Thank you for your welcome here this morning. It’s a great honour for me to be here representing Joseph Daul, President of our European People’s Party. I hope you have a very productive conference over the next two days.
As a politician myself, a member of the Irish Government and Minister for European Affairs, I get to visit many capital cities. However, I don’t think I’ve yet been in one quite as beautiful as Prague.
As you are well aware, the European People’s Party is Europe’s biggest political movement. We have more members of the European Parliament than any other party, we have almost half of European Commissioners and we also have X number of PMs and HOSG. This number has fallen from a couple of years ago, reflecting the changes we see in European politics.
Our job is to work collectively as one political organisation to maximise the amount of political representation we have, whether in the European Council, in the European Parliament, which will have elections in June 2019 or through the subsequent nomination of Commissioners. 
The role of every member party with the EPP is of huge importance. So the challenge for us is to work together to maximise the political return. The European People’s Party highly values the contribution that your party make to this process.
Success of course will be reflected in electoral achievements. Our goal of course is ultimately to ensure that the Czech Republic is led by the European People’s Party member party.
We are the largest party for a reason and that is that we - the KDU, my own party Fine Gael in Ireland, and our sister parties – we share the best and most practical policies for the people of the European Union. We should be proud of that and we should speak strongly about what we as Europeans have achieved, and in particular what the centre right parties have achieved, over the last 60 years of what is now the European Union. 
Never before have we faced so many crises in Europe at one time. From migration and security challenges to persisting economic difficulties, concerns regarding the direction of Russia, the rise of populism in the West and of course Brexit, a particularly unwelcome development on my country’s doorstep. But we must work together to solve all of these issues, from the inside out, as members of the EU.
We must protect what we have achieved in Europe – a continent that no longer solves its problems through violence but through discussion and negotiation, has achieved peace and prosperity for the 500 million people who live here on the world’s most democratic continent. 

While each of the challenges Europe faces is different and requires different solutions, there are some fundamental similarities underlying them, not least in the ever-increasing tendency for populist political groups and parties to prey on the fears that people have.  This is the case whether the fears concern economic, migration, security or other uncertainties. The essence of populism is to prey on people’s fears, pretend that solutions can be found and yet never provide any real answers or solutions to mitigate these fears.
The EPP family of partners has perhaps one unifying characteristic that is more important than all others. We, almost uniquely in this populist world, continue to be the political family that tells our people the truth. The truth is not always what people wish to hear and sometimes the solutions to the problems we face can be extremely difficult.
Often it is easier to criticise our European Union, however the EPP understands and knows that above all else the European Union is a family of Member States. Decisions taken in Brussels and subsequently enforced by the European Commission are decisions that have been taken by all of us – all of the elected politicians. That is why we all must take collective responsibility for the decisions that we have taken in the past and have the honesty to admit that while Europe is not perfect and can be improved, those improvements can only come from us working together within the EU and doing so in a way that is honest and upfront with the people.
The democracy we have in Europe and the embodiment of it which is the European Union, took many hundreds of years to achieve. Your party, the KDU must and I know it will, continue to play an important role in the Czech Republic in ensuring the values we all share for our continent are maintained and preserved for generations to come.
That is not always easy in politics but it is not the job of the centre right of the EPP, KDU, to take the easy choices, but to take the right choices. History has shown us that the people have a remarkable capacity to see through the bluster and ultimately support the parties that have the bravery and integrity to speak the truth and deliver for the people.
The essence of being in the European People’s Party is to part of a part that puts the best interests of its country and its citizens about itself.
It is a great pleasure to here with you today. I hope you have an informed and interesting discussion and I look forward to meeting many of you during the remainder of the Congress.