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Martin Schulz continues to speak to real voters’ concerns in Florence debate

The second debate between the candidates for European Commission President saw further political contrast emerge between Martin Schulz and the other candidates. 

The questions in the Florence debate, hosted by the academic European Institute, focused on procedural issues. But Martin Schulz continued to speak to the main concerns of ordinary citizens.

In his opening statement he stated that millions of employees pay their taxes in the country in which they live. He stated simply that companies in the EU should be held to the same standards.  ‘The country of profit should be the country of taxation’, stated Schulz. He also gave clear commitments to deliver a credit scheme for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) specifically targeted to increasing youth employment.

Overall, Schulz’s commitment to a strong investment strategy for growth was reinforced. Drawing applause from the audience he stated that economies should be focused on long term stability and not just deadlines for deficit repayment.

On the basic question of European democracy and the role of the voters’ wishes in the European election, Mr Schulz stated that; ‘ignoring the vote of the people in this election would be a blow to European democracy. I don’t think the Council will risk it”.

Schulz closed his remarks by noting that the debate spent a long time on institutional issues and foreign policy. He promised that although these issues are important, the first thing he will deal with is the fight against unemployment. For Schulz 26 million unemployed Europeans, including 6 million young people, is the biggest priority. He also pledged to fight tax evasion and financial speculation which means that Europe’s taxpayers and young people are carrying the cost of other people’s irresponsible actions.

Schulz's final pledge was to win back the trust of voters by concentrating on the issues that matter most to them- fairness and jobs

The candidates will meet in a final debate between the leading candidates next Thursday, 15 May, in Brussels.

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