President Barroso at the Baltic Sea States Summit
On Wednesday and Thursday 30 – 31 May President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso participated, at the invitation of Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, in the 9th Baltic Sea State Summit held in Stralsund, Germany.
The main discussion points on the agenda focused on energy security and demographic changes in the Baltic Sea region. Competitiveness and sustainable growth, both in the region and in Europe as a whole, were of course also part of the discussions of the leaders.
Baltic Sea State Summits take place every other year in the framework of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, established in 1992 to support the development and cooperation in the region. 8 EU countries (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden) and 3 non-EU countries (Island, Norway and Russia) are members.
Economic Governance Package: Country Specific Recommendations
There is good progress: public finances and imbalances are starting to improve. But we need to go further
"We have made a health check of the budgetary and economic situation in each of our 27 Member States. And we have proposed a treatment – specific recommendations for the reforms that need to be made to deliver stability, growth and jobs," said President Barroso after the adoption of the package.
To supplement the national action, the European level can and will also play its part. "There are three things I would like the June European Council to deliver and I will do my best so that the European Council in June delivers that," said the President.
- "First, a clear endorsement of the country specific recommendations, without falling for the temptation to water them down.
- Second, agreement on a growth initiative that takes forward the numerous ideas we have proposed over the last eighteen months. Namely project bonds, the EIB lending capacity increase and the optimisation of the Structural Funds
- Third, acceptance that if Heads of State and Government want to increase growth, we need a European budget that – while tight and comparatively small – has the means to invest for the future, to invest for growth and jobs.
Finally, we intend to look at the further steps we need to take towards a full economic union to complete our monetary union. The Commission will advocate an ambitious approach. The "building blocks" could include among others a banking union with integrated financial supervision and single deposit guarantee scheme. Our ideas on stability for bonds are already on the table."
Condolence message to Italy following the earthquake of 29 May 2012
President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso expressed the Commission's condolences to Italy at the start of his press conference on the Country-specific recommendations on 30 May.
"Let me convey, on behalf of the entire College and on my own behalf, our condolences to the victims of the most recent earthquake in Italy that took place near Modena (Italy) on 29 May. The European Commission is deeply saddened and expresses its full solidarity with the citizens of Italy. We stand ready, within our possibilities, to assist Italy to cope with the consequences of this and other recent natural catastrophes.
The European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, accompanied by Vice President Antonio Tajani, will visit the region on Sunday 3 June."
Speech at the "Mission Growth" Conference
In the speech that opened the "Mission Growth" conference, President Barroso said: "Now is the moment to go further with our actions for growth for the benefit of Europe's citizens. Now is the moment to demonstrate that "Mission Growth" is not "Mission Impossible" but it is "Mission Unstoppable" and that Europe is able to deliver." He also stressed that stability and pursuing sound public finances is not an option: but a necessity. "We will not have sustainable growth as long as we have unsustainable debt," said the President.
"To this end, we will continue pursuing our roadmap for financial stability, ranging from the finalisation of the pending proposals on regulation and supervision, like the Capital Requirements Directive, to banking recapitalisation and banking resolution. Indeed, we are now finalizing a very important proposal on legislation on a common framework for the recovery and resolution of banks and investment firms," the President continued.
The Commission will also monitor the impact of tight budget constraints on growth enhancing public expenditure and on public investment and, if necessary, give guidance on the scope for possible action within the boundaries of the European Union and national fiscal frameworks. In the coming months, the Commission will issue a report on the quality of public spending which will deal with this very important issue.
G20 summit in Mexico: Joint letter of Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy to the EU Member States
Today, European Commission President Barroso and European Council President Van Rompuy sent a joint letter to EU Heads of State and Government to inform them about the key issues coming up for discussion at the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, on 18-19 June 2012.
Furthermore, they stated that the EU should aim for results in four priority areas, as set out in the Spring European Council Conclusions:
1. Keeping growth and employment at the top of the G20 agenda
2. Continuing to strengthen the International Financial Architecture
3. Making substantial further progress on financial market reform
4. Tackling food security and promoting development
Read the entire letter [96 KB]
Meeting with Prime Minister of Czech Republic Mr Petr Nečas
After the meeting President José Manuel Barroso said he warmly welcomes Prime Minister Nečas's backing for the Commission twin-track strategy of sound public finances and growth, in line with the conclusions of yesterday's informal European Council.
The President continued: "I also agree with the Prime Minister on the urgent need to reach an agreement on the EU 2013 budget which must be focused on growth, on jobs and of course must address at the same time the social challenges."
A very important part of the bilateral discussions was devoted to the issue of the implementation of the structural funds in the Czech Republic, the biggest recipient country of Cohesion Policy in the EU for 2007-2013 in terms of the structural funds contribution per inhabitant. President Barroso stressed that "now it is more than ever vital to use EU funds efficiently, in a way that maximises their effects on growth and job creation and the benefits for Czech citizens."
Informal dinner of Heads of State or Government
We need both stability and growth
At the press conference following the informal European Council dinner President Barroso called for action in three areas: sound public finances, deeper structural reforms and targeted investment. He made clear that there is not a choice between stability and growth as we need both. On Greece President Barroso stated "We will stand by Greece while Greece stands by its commitments. Let's wait for the people of Greece to have their say on the 17th June and we will not let ourselves be derailed by those who want to promote speculative scenarios".
The President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso presented tonight to the Heads of State and Government the initial results of the joint action teams to tackle high levels of youth unemployment. The review demonstrates how European Union money is being used to get people in work and training.
Tackling youth unemployment: using EU structural funds to help young people [81 KB] Click on the 3 dots to access document in all languages
Euro area press lines on Greece [16 KB]
Meeting with Mr Panagiotis Pikrammenos, interim Prime Minister of Greece
After the meeting with Prime Minister Pikrammenos, President Barroso said: "Mr Panagiotis's government has a clearly defined yet vital role to play in the coming weeks." He recalled the Commission's strong desire that Greece should remain a member of the euro area and that it will continue to do everything in its power for this to happen. The President underlined the importance of Greece maintaining the commitments it has made, including implementing the structural reforms that are essential for a return to growth.
President Barroso at NATO summit in Chicago (20-21 May)
Sunday 20 May: following the G8, President José Manuel Barroso travelled to the NATO summit in Chicago to attend the meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the principal political decision-making body within NATO.
On Monday 21 May, President Barroso represented the EU on NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) meeting on Afghanistan. The President confirmed that Afghanistan remains a priority for the EU both now and beyond 2014. "My message here today is that we will do our part to ensure that Afghan development is both durable and secure," said the President.
The EU and its Member States provide more than EUR 1billion a year in support for Afghanistan, from which 200 million EUR per year comes from the EU budget, including support for the civilian police.
President Barroso also announced that the budget for the critically important development of civilian police in Afghanistan is being increased by 20% over the period 2011-2013 to 170 million EUR.
G8 summit in Camp David (U.S.) on 18-19 May 2012
The measures for growth, combined with structural reforms, investment and fiscal consolidation were welcomed by G8 leaders.
Updated 21 May
After Saturday's G8 working session on the global economy Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy said in a joint statement: "We were comforted to hear that all leaders agree on the need to take action to boost confidence and nurture recovery in response to the current economic challenges we face. We had a candid and open discussion with the other G8 members on the situation in the Euro area. On-going EU discussions and measures taken to generate growth, combined with structural reforms, targeted investment and fiscal consolidation were welcomed by the non-European G8 leaders. On Greece, it is important that, together with our G8 partners we reaffirmed our strong wish to see Greece stay in in the Euro zone, while respecting the commitments that were made."
Important outcomes from other priority areas of discussions:
- "New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition", launched on the eve of the G8 Summit, which gathers together donors, partner countries and the private sector in a joint effort to lift 50 million people out of poverty in the next ten years.
- Renewing the commitment to the Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries.
- Agreement to join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants and strong support towards the adoption of a climate action instrument legally binding for all parties by 2015.
Read more in the complete Camp David Declaration.
The next G8 meeting will take place in 2013 under presidency of the United Kingdom.
"Greece is part of our family. But the ultimate resolve to stay in the euro area must come from Greece itself"
After concluding the debate on the economic situation in Europe in the College of Commissioners, President José Manuel Barroso made some remarks on Greece. He said the Commission has been working tirelessly to assist Greece and will continue to do so. "This being said, the ultimate resolve to stay in the euro area must come from Greece itself," he added. The President stressed that "we are fully aware that the present situation is asking a lot of the Greek people, with many sacrifices." But he pointed out that this is a result of the legacy of past policies. The economic adjustment programme for Greece, he stressed, is "the least difficult of all the difficult alternatives".
Talking about the need to revive economic activity in the European Union as a whole following the Schuman Day declaration of the College last week, President Barroso announced that the Commission will prepare a growth initiative for the June European Council, building on proposals already on the table and consistent with the strategy for economic development based on financial stability, structural reform and targeted investments.
This is also the clear message President Barroso is taking to the G8 summit this weekend (18-19 May) in the USA where he headed immediately after delivering his statement. Besides the economic situation, G8 leaders will discuss global challenges such as food security, the fight against poverty, climate action and energy security. The debate will also cover international issues, such as Afghanistan and the 'Arab Spring'. "The EU is taking decisive action to foster sustainable development, increase agricultural resilience and reduce poverty, promoting democratic values and the rule of law and enhancing international stability. The EU is ready to rise to global challenges with responsibility and solidarity, in the G8 and beyond," said the President.
Before attending the G8 summit, on 17 May, the President will speak at the High-Level Debate of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 'The state of the world economy'. He will meet bilaterally with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and participate in a meeting of the Forum of Small States (FOSS), to which more than half of UN Member States belong. After the G8, President Barroso and President Van Rompuy will travel to the NATO summit in Chicago to attend the meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the principal political decision-making body within NATO, on 20 May. The next day, President Barroso will represent the EU on NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) meeting on Afghanistan.
Read the Schuman Day declaration [37 KB]
Message from Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy to Tomislav Nikolić, new President of the Republic of Serbia
Extracts of the message:
"We would like to congratulate Mr. Nikolić on his election as President of Serbia. We also wish to congratulate the people of Serbia on their elections on 6 and 20 May which were competitive and peaceful.
In these elections the Serbian people have given a very clear signal of support to the continued European orientation of government policy. Serbia entered these elections having freshly been granted candidate country status. Its leadership has now received a strong mandate to pursue this policy and move quickly to the next step of its European integration: the start of accession negotiations once the necessary conditions are met.
We strongly encourage President Nikolić to pursue this direction with particular determination in order to achieve the additional progress that would allow the European Commission to recommend the opening of accession negotiations and the European Council to take this decision. This will require a high sense of statesmanship to overcome the more difficult challenges. Serbia will need to continuously demonstrate its adherence to the spirit of cooperation and reconciliation in the region."
Statement by President Barroso following the earthquakes in northern Italy
"I wish to express my profound sadness at the news of the earthquakes that have affected parts of Italy today. These have caused multiple fatalities as well as significant material damage, particularly in the region of Emilia Romagna. As ever on these occasions, our first thoughts are for the families of the victims and for those who have been evacuated from their homes. The European Commission is in close contact with the Italian civil protection authorities and is ready to provide swiftly any assistance that may be requested."
Meeting with U Shwe Mann, Speaker of Lower House of the Parliament of Myanmar
On Friday 11 May President José Manuel Barroso met the Speaker of the Lower House of the Parliament of Myanmar, U Shwe Mann.
During the meeting the Speaker explained at length the peaceful transition underway in Myanmar and the commitment of the authorities to national reconciliation and democratic values. President Barroso expressed the European Union's support to the undergoing political and economic reforms and assured the Speaker of his personal and the European Commission's support for the democratic process in Mayanmar. He encouraged further action concerning the release of political prisoners, rule of law and inter-ethnic dialogue.
Further measures from Myanmar would be accompanied with a continued support from the European Union, in line with the recent decisions to suspend the restrictive measures, the new package of €150 million in development assistance for 2012/2013 and the opening of a diplomatic presence in Myanmar.
Renewal of Europe – President Barroso on Europe Day
On Europe Day, the 62nd anniversary of the Schuman declaration and beginning of European integration, President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso participated at the WDR Europaforum 2012, a traditional event, meeting for the 15th time, which annually gathers leading figures from the European public to discuss top issues on the European agenda.
Afterwards he spoke about European values at a festive event of the European People's Party. In the afternoon the President attended the The State of the Union Conference in Florence, Italy. In his speech, which concluded the first day of the event, he said: "At a time when a so-called decline of Europe is widely discussed in Europe and beyond, it is the appropriate place to remind us that decline and renewal are two of the greatest and intertwined themes of our European culture and history. And the European Union has always been able to cope with crises and emerge from them stronger and more united."
The President continued: "We are showing the way out of the crisis while building a sustainable, inclusive, fair and competitive social market economy for the 21st century Europe. The Commission has front-loaded all the issues that have dominated the European agenda over the last two years - from better economic governance and regulation of financial markets to supervision of fiscal policies; from the Europe 2020 strategy for growth and jobs to our proposals for a 2014-2020."
He concluded by naming concrete key sources which can kick-start growth in Europe – completion of Single Market, making the most of global trade (instead of giving in to the temptation to close the doors) and targeted investment, such as through the Commission's proposed Connecting Europe Facility or project bonds initiatives. He called on member states and all key European partners to speed up the implementation gap in order to release the full potential of the initiatives that have been put forward.
Informal Ministerial Round Table for ambitious follow up to Durban
President Jose Manuel Barroso took part in an Informal Ministerial Round Table for Ambitious Follow Up to Durban. At the end of this two day meeting (7-8 May) on climate negotiations and preparations for Rio+20, the President said: "The EU has traditionally been at the forefront of climate action – and we will stay there, even in difficult economic times. This is not only crucial for the fight against climate change. It is also an integral part of our so-called Europe 2020 Strategy, for competitiveness and economic growth. It creates green growth and green jobs, while helping save energy and other costs," and added: "The EU will deliver on what it agreed in Durban: we will go for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. But we also expect others to deliver on the other parts of the Durban package. This is the message I will bring to the G20 Summit in and to Rio+20 in the summer.”
Seizing the moment to boost growth: 9th May message from the College
I am pleased to see the new momentum that is building in Member States to kick-start the engine of European growth
On Tuesday the College of Commissioners discussed a paper entitled "Action for growth and action for jobs". After the debate President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso said: "We have a twin track approach of stability and growth that has been always at the heart of our response. Now, firstly there must be no let-up in our focus on stability. Reducing debt and deficits is essential to build confidence and cut borrowing costs. Every euro spent on interest payments is a euro less for jobs and investment."
"Secondly, there must be acceleration in structural reforms. Member States should reduce taxes on labour to stimulate job creation."
"Thirdly, we need to step up investment. I am pleased that after the European Council has already called for approval of the project bonds, the proposal is on track, meaning that a contribution of €230 million from the current EU budget could be used to attract funding of up to €4.6 billion over the next two years for key infrastructure projects. I also want to see an increase in the lending capacity of the European Investment Bank. Boosting its paid-in capital by at least €10 billion would make available much needed funding in support of job creation, particularly if targeted at small businesses. I want to see this agreed at the next European Council. And if we are serious about investment for growth, we need to agree an EU budget for the next seven years that shifts the focus of spending to growth enhancing measures."
Speech by President Barroso at the Government and Innovation Summit
President Barroso spoke today at the Government and Innovation Summit organised by Ernst & Young.
He underlined that boosting innovation is a strategic priority of the European Commission. That is why it created the Innovation Union 'flagship initiative' which aims at creating the conditions for a more innovative and thus more competitive and prosperous Europe.
The President highlighted the importance of completing the Single Market in digital goods and services: 60% of the actions proposed in the EU's Digital Agenda will be completed at the end of 2012. Key forthcoming proposals will address cloud computing, roaming and Internet security.
Meeting with the Prime Minister of Greenland
President Barroso and the Prime Minister of Greenland, Mr Kuupik Kleist, met today in order to discuss the strategic potential of EU-Greenland relations. They exchanged views on how to further enhance cooperation in areas of mutual interest, namely Arctic issues, natural resources and environment, in addition to EU-Greenland longstanding cooperation on fisheries. This meeting comes at a time when the Commission is working on an Arctic Policy Communication to be adopted in the coming weeks. It will set out measures to protect the Arctic environment and support sustainable development in the region.
Visit of Vice Prime Minister of China Mr Li Keqiang to Brussels
We need to work closely together to promote strong, sustainable and balanced growth
Meeting for their fourth time, President Barroso and Vice Premier Li had a constructive bilateral meeting. In his statement, the President said: "I had the opportunity to review with Vice-Premier Li the comprehensive nature of EU-China relations. EU and China are two important poles of the international system. Our relations go well beyond the bilateral framework. Everything we do has a global impact. That is why we have a duty and a responsibility, before our citizens, but also before the rest of the world, to cooperate closely on all matters." The leaders also exchanged views on global issues such as the preparation of the G20 Summit in Mexico and the Rio+20 Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
Another important purpose of Vice Premier Li's visit to Brussels was to work on deepening mutual cooperation in the fields of energy and urbanisation. This purpose was marked by two important events: a morning High Level Conference on Urbanization and an afternoon High Level Meeting on Energy. In a speech concluding this meeting, the President said: "Today's meeting represents a further milestone: for the first time, we have gathered the most important EU energy decision makers of all the 27 EU Member States, together with the Chinese Ministers in charge of implementing China's ambitious energy policy. I would like to thank them all for working on a genuine ‘energetic’ partnership beyond departments and borders."
During the visit three joint declarations were signed: on sustainable urbanisation, energy security and electricity markets.
Meeting with the Prince of Wales's EU Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change
On Thursday President Barroso held his third meeting with the Prince of Wales's EU Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change. The group gathers a number of leading business representatives across the sectors.
This meeting comes at a time when preparations speed up for crucial events such as Rio+20 (June 2012) and the COP-18 in Qatar (November 2012).
President Barroso said: "I see the business community and corporate leaders as 'natural allies' in our work towards green and sustainable growth. Pushing a low-carbon economy is a key growth strategy – it is particularly important to make this point in times of crisis," He added: "I therefore see this crisis - odd as it may sound - as an opportunity to make progress towards [green] growth."
2000th meeting of the Commission
45 years after the first meeting, I feel greatly privileged to preside over the 2000th reunion of the Commission
Today, Wednesday 2 May 2012, the College of Commissioners holds its 2000th meeting. On this symbolic day, His Majesty Albert II, King of Belgium will pay a visit to the College. The first meeting of the European Commission as we know it today took place on 6 July 1967, after the entry into force of the so called "Merger Treaty" (or "Brussels Treaty") on 1 July. This Treaty created a single institutional structure, including the Commission as a single executive, for the European Communities.
To mark this anniversary, an exhibition is shown until 7 May 2012 on the ground floor of the Commission headquarters (Berlaymont building). It displays:
- the table of the College meetings in use in the late 1960s.
- a video recalling the various Colleges since 1958. :
- a selection of pictures illustrating the history of the institution. :
- copies of the agenda and minutes of the College meetings number 1, 500, 1000 and 1500.
Congratulations message to the new President of Hungary, Mr János Áder
Today, President Barroso conveyed his congratulations to the new President of Hungary, Mr János Áder: "On behalf of the European Commission, I would like to offer you my congratulations on your election as president of Hungary. Your election has come at a crucial time, as Hungary, together with other Member States, embarks on the path of economic recovery. After managing a successful presidency of the European Union, your country faces difficult choices in difficult times. Addressing you as a former member of the European Parliament, I am confident about your deep commitment to the European project. I hope for your active involvement in communicating this success story, sharing our common values and interests and the actions we take together to tackle the challenges we face today.
I wish you every success in your mandate as head of state and I look forward to working with you towards a united and prosperous Europe, which is our joint responsibility. Please accept, dear Mr President, the assurance of my highest consideration."
Meeting with Mr Massimov, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan
Speaking to the press after the working meeting, President José Manuel Barroso stressed the importance of the bilateral ties between the European Union and Kazakhstan, the only country in Central Asia with which the EU is currently negotiating a new enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.
Trade relations were also discussed, including the EU's support for Kazakhstan's accession to the World Trade Organization, as well as the importance of Kazakhstan as an energy partner of the European Union.
While referring to the impressive progress Kazakhstan has made since its independence, the President underlined the need for further political and economic reforms in the country.