Marietje Schaake (ALDE) – Mr President, as we seek to solve the financial and economic crisis, I would like to point out an essential deficit: that of knowledge. I regret to say that Europe is becoming a more stupid continent every day, even though knowledge is our most fruitful and rich resource. Investing in it bears no risk. The young generation of Europeans pays the price of the crisis, however, as youth unemployment grows and education and innovation budgets are frozen or cut. We have to cut budgets, but let us do so with a 21st century attitude, because where is half of the EU budget going now? To agriculture! It should go to the young generation, and their development. Not just a traditional education but one that focuses on e-skills and entrepreneurship for example. We know that the higher one’s education is, the lower the chances of losing a job. Yet Member States are not meeting the necessary commitment in fostering an ambitious knowledge economy. Europe thus punishes the next generation of Europeans by not allowing them to develop their talents and ambitions to their full capacity, and it allows China, India and the United States to become more attractive places for talent, research, creativity and innovation. Short-term measures will have a high long-term cost. Entrepreneurship, excellence and a sustainable future of the European economy can only be fostered if we are willing to invest in knowledge, because whoever thinks knowledge is expensive does not know what stupidity costs. Today, Commissioner Kroes presented her vision for Europe’s digital agenda, one of the EU 2020 flagship programmes. It is an ambitious yet concrete strategy which seeks to make Europe’s digital market stronger in a global economy as well as connecting many Europeans to an open Internet. I believe we need to take more smart decisions now and make sure the current crisis does not become a mortgage to the youth and the young generation charging an interest that they can never pay back. Does the Commission support a coordinated approach, moving away from the intergovernmental procedure in decision making and giving a stronger role to the Commission and Parliament to ensure that Member States fulfil their commitments?