Remember this map of Europe? It was on the cover of the 2004 European Commission's Statistical Guide to Europe. Notice anything strange about it? Wales is not there! There's just a blank space.
I've seen my job as Wales's member of the European Parliament for the past ten years as putting Wales firmly on the map: politically, economically, socially. Before we arrived that did not happen. In Plaid Cymru we are not in the business of adapting Wales to fit in with British priorities or the Europe of the so-called “nation states”, but shaping our own future, and influencing the way that Britain and Europe develop in a positive way at the same time. Wales is a European nation in the making. And we are making it - all of us together.
Ers 1999, mae pethau wedi newid. Mae proffil Cymru wedi codi’n aruthrol. Mae gan yr iaith Gymraeg statws swyddogol yn yr Undeb Ewropeaidd bellach– a doedd neb yn fwy balch na fi pan siaradodd Alun Ffred Jones Gymraeg am y tro cyntaf erioed yng Nghyngor y Gweinidogion a phan siaradodd Nerys Evans Gymraeg ym Mhwyllgor y Rhanbarthau. Enillodd fy ymgyrch di-flino gefnogaeth nifer fawr o bobl a mudiadau ar draws Cymru a dyna pam y llwyddon ni– er fod aelodau Llafur a’r Toriaid wedi’i wrthwynebu. Roedd yn bartneriaeth effeithiol gyda Phlaid Cymru, ar eich ochr chi, yn gweithio gyda chynghorau lleol, y Cynulliad, San Steffan a Senedd Ewrop.
Rydym wedi bod yn cyd-weithio yn yr un modd i wrthwynebu tagio defaid yn electroneg – Plaid Cymru ar ochr y ffermwyr – ac o dan arweiniad y Gweinidog dros Faterion Gwledig Elin Jones - yn mynd a’n hachos yn uniongyrchol i Ewrop. Ac hefyd ar y newidiadau ar stoc wedi trigo lle mae Prifysgol Bangor wedi datblygu technoleg a fydd nid yn unig yn helpu ffermwyr yng Nghymru ond drwy Ewrop gyfan.
Unwaith eto, mae Plaid Cymru yn Ewrop wedi bod ar ochr y gweithwyr. Pam nad yw deddfwriaeth Ewropeaidd wedi diogelu pobl rhag gweithio oriau peryglus o hir ym Mhrydain fel meant yn gwneud mewn rhannau eraill o Ewrop? Oherwydd bod llywodraeth Llafur wedi gwrthod eu mabwysiadu. Mae Plaid wastod wedi galw ar Brydain i roi’r gorau i’r ‘opt’out’ yma a nawr yr wythnos hon, rydym yn dal i obeithio am gytundeb a fydd yn diogelu gweithwyr a rhoi hyblygrwydd i’r gwasanaethau brys ac eraill i barhau gyda’r gwaith arbennig y maent yn ei wneud. Mae Prydain yn dal i’w wrthwynebu – er fod TUC Cymru wedi dangos bod hyd at 24,000 o bobl yng Nghymru wedi gweithio oriau ychwanegol yn ddi-dal y llynedd.
Ar y llaw arall, mae Ieuan Wyn Jones wedi cadw at ymrwymiad Plaid i gefnogi busnesau bach gan ddod a chymorth ac arian o gronfeydd newydd oddi wrth Banc Buddsoddi Ewrop i Gymru.
Mae Plaid Cymru ar ochr defnyddwyr – yn cefnogi gwell labeli bwyd, deddfwriaeth cryfach ar wastraff, mwy o ddiogelwch rhag cemegion peryglus, gwell hawliau i gleifion sy’n teithio i wledydd eraill am ofal iechyd a mwy o fwyd wedi’i gynhyrchu yn lleol.
Rydym wedi gweithio’n ddi-flino i gael arian Ewrop i Gymru – er roedd Tony Blair a’i Ganghellor ar y pryd Gordon Brown yn trio cael gwared ar y Gronfa Rhanbarthol Ewropeaidd yn gyfangwbl a rheoli’r arian o Drysorlys Llundain. Fe gollodd e’r frwydr honno. Ond hyd yn oed nawr, nid yw Llundain yn cyfrannu’r arian cyfatebol y mae gennym hawl iddo.
Mae Plaid Cymru ar ochr rhieni – yn galw am fwy o ofal plant i gyrraedd targedau Ewropeaidd a gytunwyd gan arweinyddion Ewrop yn 2002. Dylai gofal cael ei ddarparu i draean o blant o dan dair oed a 90% o blant rhwng tair oed ac oed ysgol erbyn 2010. Mae Prydain wedi methu cyrraedd yr un targed. Yma yng Nghymru mae’n stori wahanol ac mae llywodraeth Cymru’n Un yn buddsoddi £120 miliwn ychwanegol ar gyfer gofal plant fforddiadwy.
Mae Plaid Cymru ar eich ochr chi yn ystod yr argfywng ariannol. Rydym oll yn dioddef o’i effeithiau ond y gwir caled yw, menywod sydd yn cael eu heffeithio fwyaf. Am bob swydd a gollwyd ar Wall Street, mae tair swydd yn cael ei cholli yn y sector gwasanaethau, sector sydd gyda nifer o fenywod yn gweithio ynddi. Pan gaeodd Woolworths y llynedd, collwyd 27,000 o swyddi – a’r mwyafrif o’r rheini yn fenywod. Mae risg o dlodi uchaf ymysg cartrefi un-rhiant, gyda 85% o’r rhieni hynny yn fenywod. Mae menywod dros 65 hefyd yn wynebu’r risg o dlodi. Oherwydd y bwlch cyflog rhwng menywod a dynion,mae merched yn ennill llai na dynion beth bynnag. Ac yn ol y Sefydliad Llafur Rhyngwladol, mae disgwyl i’r argyfwng economaidd gynyddu’r nifer o fenywod sy’n ddi-waith i 22 miliwn erbyn 2009. Nid yw’n syndod felly bod menywod yng Nghymru yn fwy pryderus na dynion am sut mae’r argyfwng yn mynd i effeithio arnyn nhw a’u teuluoedd.
Yet almost all the decision makers, including those who caused this crisis are men. We’ve seen the G20 photocalls this week! Would the credit crunch have happened at all if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman sisters? I'll leave that for you to think about!
Last week Gordon Brown came to the European Parliament in Strasbourg - at his own request - to tell us how he would lead Europe out of the financial crisis. But in Wales we are facing not one but two crises - one Gordon Brown helped create, and the other Gordon Brown is planning all by himself! He is planning to cut £500 million from the Welsh budget next year - a £500 million cut in public services - schools, hospitals and public transport.
It's all very well to go to invite himself to the European Parliament. When will Gordon Brown come to the National Assembly? When will he explain to the people of Wales, face to face, why he is cutting our public spending at the very time we need it most? I challenge him to do that.
These Labour cuts mean Welsh jobs as well as services. Across Europe 35% of all jobs are in public services. So cutting those services will have a bad knock-on effect on the whole of the economy. I will continue to work in the European Parliament for laws to ensure that public services meet the needs of the people and protect them from destructive market forces. The needs of people are always more important than the needs of the market, which is why Plaid has always supported a social Europe, not just an economic union.
It's not cuts we need but more investment. With £3 billion we could safeguard and create 40,000 jobs in Wales between now and 2011.
There is no better way to create new business opportunities than a huge programme of investment to fight climate change, create sustainable jobs and sustainable economic growth. One of the powers the European Parliament does have is over the budget. MEPs have to agree, for example, on how the 4 billion euro energy part of the EU economic recovery plan is spent. I believe that half of that money must be spent on renovating buildings, public transport and renewable energy - the so-called "smart cities" projects. We don't want all this money to go to the giant companies with huge projects - which in turn make them huge profits. Massive projects like carbon capture and storage are years away from being ready so the investment won’t have an impact on the economy now. And they do not benefit local communities. And they are not as effective as energy conservation and efficiency and the community based micro-generation schemes that Wales has so much potential to develop. I will keep pushing for this money to go to s maller projects because I know of so many community groups, entrepreneurs and local authorities in Wales who are crying out for funding for their green schemes. We could be leading the way.
Wales is a small country, and that has clear advantages in these difficult times. Our disadvantage is that we can't speak for ourselves alongside the other governments of Europe. Why not? Because it is the UK government represented there.
And it's Gordon Brown that will appoint a Commissioner to serve for five years representing the UK. Only the Commission has the right to propose new laws in the EU, although, contrary to popular myth, they can’t make the final decision on those laws. But they still have a powerful position. So why should the decision on who represents us in the Commission be left to Gordon Brown? We need to get the voice of Wales heard in the Commission.
Under the devolved UK, let's divide the job up between Wales, Scotland, England and the north of Ireland. Each could appoint a Commissioner for a period of fifteen months. This would ensure that at least for a limited time we had a Welsh Commissioner. Dafydd – forget the House of Lords - imagine what a difference a Commissioner Wigley would make!
There are lots of changes we will keep pushing for. We want to stop the expensive to-ing and fro-ing between Brussels and Strasbourg that costs all of us taxpayers millions of pounds. That’s not the MEPs fault, it’s the governments. Plaid have campaigned for a fair and open system of members travel allowances which will come into force in June. And we want to see all those companies who come and lobby us as Member of the European Parliament to be registered so we know who and what they are and what they represent. My first duty is to you, the people of Wales, not to big business.
Labour complains about me shouting for Wales in Europe. But I’m in there for Wales. You didn't elect me so I would keep quiet, did you? So I'll tell them and everyone else that I will keep on shouting on behalf of the people of Wales. I'll keep on and on and on - as long as it takes to give Wales its own voice in Brussels and Strasbourg.
You will hear the other parties talking about a voice for Wales in Europe, but Plaid is the only party that gives Wales a voice to speak for herself.
That's why I'm asking the people of Wales to vote for us again this June. So I can carry on the work in Europe. But not on my own. We need more Plaid MEPs there - we need members like Eurig Wyn, Ioan Bellin and Natasha Asghar who can fight Wales's corner with a passion, loyalty and honesty.
We will never see another map like this. Wales won't be left out again – I’ll make sure of that. But we have a bigger vision for Wales. We are building this European nation of ours. We are doing it together. Plaid Cymru is the only party that can do it because we ARE the party of Wales. We are not answerable to London. We answer only to you, the people of Wales. We belong to you. We want what you want - and – always - we are on your side.
Jill Evans ASE