The EU needs to make solidarity its "watchword" and stand up to "national egotism", the president of the European Parliament has said.
Martin Schulz said that only by coming together could the EU survive the current crisis, as he addressed MEPs in Brussels on Europe Day, on 9 May 2012.
He claimed that two of the "greatest achievements" of European integration - the euro and freedom of movement - were being called into question.
But a return to separate national currencies would cause serious political and economic damage in Europe, and reduce the EU's influence on the world stage, he argued.
The German social democrat rejected the idea that people did not want "more Europe", claiming the interest in the French and Greek elections showed people saw these events in terms of European home affairs.
"We need Europe, in this era of globalisation more than ever, to defend our democratic and social model," he added.
Austerity vs growth?
Socialist group leader Hannes Swoboda claimed austerity was undermining social peace in Europe and damaging jobs and growth.
However, the Austrian MEP believed a change in mindset - towards greater public investment - was "slowly coming around", pointing to the recent election of socialist Francois Hollande in France.
Mr Hollande has said he wants to renegotiate the terms of the eurozone financial pact aimed at cutting state spending.
French communist MEP Patrick Le Hyaric added that the anti-austerity votes in France and Greece could not be ignored. He said it was time for the EU to pursue a new path that focuses on growth.
But French MEP Joseph Daul, who leads the parliament's centre-right EPP group, said Europe must stick to its course of deficit reduction to make national finances healthier.
He said the only way to achieve growth was to make economies competitive again - rejecting the idea of extra public expenditure "because we don't have any money left".
Liberal group leader Guy Verhofstadt said he believed the only way the EU could survive was by taking a "quantum leap" towards European federalism.
However, Martin Callanan, Conservative leader in the European Parliament, countered that it was time to "roll back the EU's frontiers".
He dismissed as "nonsense" claims that pro-austerity politicians are not pro-growth, telling MEPs that everybody wanted growth, it was just a battle over means not ends.
UKIP's Nigel Farage rubbished the idea of Europe Day, claiming it was an attempt to "smash democracy" across Europe.
The eurosecptic MEP said the EU was characterised by economic failure, mass unemployment and low growth, adding that it was time to break up the eurozone and build a Europe based on trade and cooperation.
to how the plenary sessions work.
on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.