My speech to the plenary in Strasbourg on the EU framework on Fundamental Rights and Freedoms

I believe our shared values of freedom, democracy and tolerance are the very foundations of Europe and this Union.

The values which we share as a continent are echoed throughout all of our work.

Too often this Parliament tries to quantify in a scientific way values which simply cannot be quantified.

It has been my experience that scoreboards, monitoring, indicators and benchmarks do little to reflect the reality of any situation.

What will be the methods, what will be the issues, what will be the criteria to pass such a test?

I would hope that we would not need such things to tell us what is right and what is wrong.

I believe that instead of developing binding instruments to carry out punishments for Member States, and providing another tool for political point scoring, perhaps instead we should ask ourselves if such mechanisms are the most convivial vehicle for honest, frank, and open discussions, and therefore, solutions.

Perhaps instead we need to develop discussion and actions on how we can improve fundamental rights and the rule of law within Europe, and how we can better the lives of our citizens.

My fear is that little is often achieved through evaluations, and mechanisms produce very little. Instead I believe that the Commission should be there to help remove the barriers to the job market, to increase access for those with disabilities, to eradicate discrimination of LGBTI persons, to help with social mobility, to help create more jobs for young people, and to remove burdensome red tape from the economy and business, so that the Europe's economy can grow stronger. Opportunities and progress: that is how you promote fundamental rights.

I want to see the Commission create a strategy which does these things, and helps Member States do them better. I believe that a helping hand will always be better than a scolding tongue. We are not each others masters but instead each others partners.

Respect for the principles of proportionality, subsidiarity and better regulation does not need to result in lowering human rights protection level.

What we do not need are new ways to throw the book at one another. What we do need is a focus on better law making, better implementation, and a better way of talking to one another.