2012 State of the Union address: President Barroso calls for a federation of nation states and announces blueprint for deeper economic and monetary union
In his annual speech on the State of the Union, European Commission President made a strong case for new direction and a new thinking for Europe. He sketched out the way towards more European unity to overcome the crisis and maintain sovereignty in a globalised world. "Globalisation demands more European unity. More unity demands more integration. More integration demands more democracy," he said.
He notably presented to the European Parliament a Decisive Deal for Europe – to project our values, our freedom and our prosperity into the future of a globalized world. This Decisive Deal would be an expression of Europe's determination to reform together, to maintain the integrity of the Union and show the irreversibility of the euro. A deal that "requires the completion of a deep and genuine economic union, based on a political union."
He strongly emphasised the importance of fairness and equity when tackling the crisis and announced that before the end of the year, the Commission will launch a Youth Package that will establish a youth guarantee scheme and equality framework to facilitate vocational training. He also said: "Fairness and equity means creating better and fairer taxation systems. Stopping tax fraud and tax evasion could put extra billions into the public purse across Europe. This is why the Commission will fight for an agreement on the revised savings tax directive, and on mandates to negotiate stronger savings tax agreements with third countries."
On the Financial Transaction Tax, President Barroso was very clear: "This is a matter of fairness. The Commission will continue to fight for a fair and ambitious Financial Transactions Tax and will do all it can to move this forward with those Member States that are willing."
He also called on all pro-European forces to "now stand together in support of the right multi-annual financial framework that will take us to 2020. This will be a real test of credibility for some member states who talk about investing in growth. Now we will see if they are really ready to agree to a budget on growth.
President Barroso then presented the Commission proposals of the same day for a single European supervisory mechanism as a stepping stone to a banking union. He outlined the further steps for which the Commission will publish a blueprint for deepening the economic and monetary union still this autumn: "The second element of a deeper economic union is the move towards a fiscal union. We need a stronger and more binding framework for the national decision making for key economic policies, as the only way to prevent imbalances. To deliver lasting results, we need to develop a fully equipped Community economic governance together with a genuine, credible Community fiscal capacity. We do not need separate institutions for that. Quite the contrary: for this to be effective and quick, the best way is to work with and through the existing institutions.
Regarding the role of the European Central Bank in the crisis, he showed his conviction that the ECB is acting within its mandate when monetary channels are not working properly and the integrity of the Euro needs to be secured.
He strongly insisted on the need to develop a European public space, where European issues are discussed and debated from a European standpoint and said: "We cannot continue trying to solve European problems with national solutions."
He underlined the importance of a strengthened European Parliament in this regard and the need for complementarity and cooperation between the European and national parliaments. In this context he referred to the Commission's proposal of the same day for a better statute for European political parties.
With the view to the 2014 European elections he suggested: "An important means to deepen the pan-European political debate would be the presentation by all European political parties of their candidate for the post of Commission President at the European Parliament elections in 2014. This would be a decisive step to make the possibility of a European choice offered by these elections even clearer. I call on the political parties to commit to this step and thus to further Europeanise these elections."
He continued with a strong appeal: "We must use the 2014 election to mobilise all pro-European forces. We must not allow the populists and the nationalists to set a negative agenda. I expect all those who call themselves Europeans to stand up and to take the initiative in this debate. Because even more dangerous than the scepticism of the anti-Europeans, is the indifference or the pessimism of the pro-Europeans."
President Barroso also stressed that a stronger commitment to our fundamental values is needed and that a more political European Union also means that "we must concentrate European action on the real issues that matter and must be dealt with at the European level. Not everything can be a priority."
On the global role of the European Union, President Barroso reiterated his conviction that "sharing sovereignty in Europe means being more sovereign in a global world. In today's world, size matters. And values make the difference."
With regard to Syria, he said: "The appalling situation in Syria reminds us that we cannot afford to be by-standers. A new and democratic Syria must emerge. We have a joint responsibility to help make this happen."
He finally called for a federation of nation states and explained: "Let's not be afraid of the word: we will need to move towards a federation of nation states. Today I call for a federation of nation states. Not a superstate. A democratic federation of nation states that can tackle our common problems, through the sharing of sovereignty in a way that each country is better equipped to control its own destiny. This is about the Union with the member states, not against the member states." With regard to the necessary Treaty changes he showed full awareness of the difficulty of Treaty change and said that it needs to be well prepared. It notably should "not distract or delay us from doing what can and must already be done today. A deep and genuine economic and monetary union can be started under the current Treaties, but can only be completed with a new Treaty."
President Barroso concluded with a strong expression to work for the EU's unity and the application of the Community method: "Let me be very clear: in Europe, we need no more walls dividing us! We will start from the principle that deeper integration will not be just for some. No one will be forced to come along. And no one will be forced to stay out. The speed will not be dictated by the slowest or the most reluctant – but the process must be open to all who want to participate. Because the European Union is stronger as a whole than if it fragments into different parts – in the integrity of its single market, its membership and in its institutions."
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