EPP Summit in Bucharest: speech by José Manuel Barroso
Type: Complete speech
End production: 17/10/2012 First transmission: 17/10/2012
On 17 October 2012, José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, participated at the 21st Congress of the European People's Party (EPP) in Bucharest where he made a speech entitled "The answer is more Europe".
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Soundbite by José Manuel Barroso (in ENGLISH): Dear Wilfried Martens, dear President Basescu, dear friends of the EPP,
Let me, first of all, thank our Romanian friends for organizing this EPP congress here in Bucharest. One message of this congress is clear: the European Union is very important to Romania and Romania is very important to the European Union. (Applause)
Let me also express my respect and friendship to Wilfried Martens, President of the EPP, and also to the Secretary General, Antonio Lopez, for their work. I’d also like to thank Joseph Daul, as president of the EPP group and all the colleagues of the European Parliament for their cooperation with the European Commission.
The European Union is going through the most challenging period of its history. The reality is that some of our member states are facing serious economic, financial, in many cases, extreme, difficult social problem. And, as this crisis in happening in Europe, many tend to suggest that this problem was created by Europe and this is simply not true. The current problems we have in Europe were created by unsustainable debts in the public sector and irresponsible financial behaviours in the private sector. This is the cause of the crisis we have now in Europe. (applause)
So the European Union is not the cause of the problem, the European Union is an indispensable part of the solution. What is happening in some parts of our Union is not a problem for just some of our countries, or some of our citizens. It is a vital concern for all of us, for the European Union as a whole. It is an illusion to think that, in the Single Market and even less so in the Euro area, some members can sustainably and in the long term flourish, while others are suffering. Inequality is not sustainable. The European project is a project of convergence. And this is also what says the Treaty of the European Union, article 1 : “ This Treaty marks a new stage in the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe…”
So the question we have to ask ourselves is the following: are we on track with creating an ever closer union among our peoples? Are we all working for this common, strong European objective? I believe the answer is “ yes, but...”.
||Soundbite by José Manuel Barroso (in ENGLISH): Yes, we are making progress but not enough progress. This is the honest analysis of the current situation in Europe today. We cannot ignore that there are dangerous tendencies in some quarters of Europe. The lack of economic and social convergence between our member states is not sustainable for much longer. This lack of convergence is nourishing populist debates, which have one single objective: to divide, to weaken, ultimately to put an end to this great project that is the European Union. We must not allow these extremist, populist forces to succeed in exploiting the frustration, of course, of many in Europe and the social crisis. The only way to succeed for Europe is to act united, and if we want to keep our social market economy, we have to understand that, in the age of globalisation, we need to make the reforms for Europe to remain competitive, indeed to become more competitive. And this are the statements of the reality, that I believe are serious and honest: not to promise miracles because there will be no miracle, there will not be a magic solution, but to tell our citizens that it is necessary to make reforms that sometimes are difficult. But it is the only way to keep Europe and our countries competitive in a much more globalized and more challenging world, so that we can keep our social market economy. I mean an open economy, a competitive economy but an economy that is committed to social cohesion, to the values of European Union.
Some people say that we only need solidarity; others say we only need discipline. I say we need both. We need responsibility and solidarity. We need discipline and convergence. We need to give Europe and its institutions the means to guarantee that the European rules are respected. To give European action full democratic legitimacy, by building a true European democracy based on the Community methods. To deepen our European democracy.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
This is the only way forward for Europe. Others ways lead to division, to fragmentation that would lead back Europe to the so-called “logic of balance of power”, and we know that logic of balance is very unbalanced indeed and that was exactly what brought Europe, in the past, to wars and to some of the dourest moment in our common history. (applause)
It is absolutely clear that we need to further integrate the Euro Area. It is clear that the Euro Area needs to evolve towards an economic, monetary, fiscal and ultimately, a political union. This is the logical consequence that we are drawing from this crisis. But, and this is an important point, the Euro Area is not a distinct organisation from the European Union. Under the Treaty, the Euro Area and the European Union are rest on one and the same institutional framework, on the same Single Market, on the same set of Community rules, with the same European Commission, with the same European Parliament, with the same commitment to our common values.
||Soundbite by José Manuel Barroso (in ENGLISH): This means that, as we go further with Euro Area integration that is indispensable to sustain a common currency, we must not allow it to lead to division with respect to those countries who will join the Euro later. The Euro must remain open to all member states. Solutions must be found, wherever that is possible, at 27, soon at 28 members. The Single Market must be upheld and it must be clear that the European Parliament is also the Parliament of the Euro, and that the European Commission is the Commission of the Euro.
So my answer is yes, we need more Euro Area integration, but let us make this process as inclusive as possible, as a way of deepening the solidarity in all the European Union and not as way of creating new walls in Europe. We definitely do not need more walls.
Dear friends of the EPP,
Next month we are going to take important decisions about our budget for the next seven years. We’ll have some choices to make: how much money do we want to invest, in these times of tight domestic budgets, in convergence, in cohesion and in reforms for increased competitiveness? And how can we give better goals to this money? And, in the past, did we always spend European Union funds in the best possible way?
For me the answer is clear. If we want growth – and all the leaders in Europe say they want growth, then we have to support the most important instrument we have at European level to support investment. It is precisely our budget for the next seven years, because without some kind of investment, we will not be able to achieve growth at European level. But at the same time, we have to say this money, namely the money for cohesion, is not just a kind of license to spend. This is not right. It is investment at European level to support the common objective, to increase our competitiveness, to make our European economy more competitive. That is why I want to make a statement here, because I have seen in these cautions, that there are on one side so-called “friends of the cohesion”; on the other side, there are “friends of a better spending”, sometimes suggesting to reduce the investment. And to those to parties, the party of better spending and the party of cohesion, I say: let us make a coalition, a coalition for growth. This is the objective of all Europeans, to work for sustainable growth at European level.
||Soundbite by José Manuel Barroso (in ENGLISH): But let us also be honest about it. We cannot continue the growth of the past. We have seen that growth was not sustainable; a growth that was fuelled by artificial credit or by irresponsible public spending was not the king of growth we can say was sustainable. Now we are facing problems that allow us, that make us in need to respond to those problems, including in the Euro Area. This is why we need to be aware of our historic responsibility in the months ahead. That is why, I think, we are now working on these projects. One of the projects that is making progress is the financial transaction tax we have put forward as a proposal. We have now received the minimum number of member states that are ready to go for the financial transaction tax, and the European Commission will now make a proposal in terms of reinforced cooperation. We have proposed that at least part of the revenue of the financial transaction tax could be used at European level, precisely to support those candidates that are in the most difficult situations, provided that they make the necessary and indispensable reforms for their competitiveness. That can be an example indeed of how we can together respond to this crisis: to work with responsibility and, at the same time, with solidarity.
So let us not weaken our determination now. I believe we can overcome this crisis and indeed, we are overcoming this crisis, but we need to go forward for more integration in Europe. That is why it is so important, this idea of a political union to deepen our European democracy. And I think that, in the next months, we need to have concrete decisions on several areas: reinforcing the budgeted discipline and convergence, adopting the so-called “Two Pack” which will reinforce our coherence in budgetary policies, adopting the single supervisory mechanism for banks – it is critically important for the credibility of supervision, which is in turn the pre-condition for the possibility of direct recapitalisation of banks under the European Stability Mechanism; and last but not least, adopting the Multi-Annual Financial Framework, the budget for the next seven years.
||Soundbite by José Manuel Barroso (in ENGLISH): And we must not stop here, we must go further in integration, not for the sake of integration but because we need to go further if we want Europe to count in the globalised world. Because the message that was given to us by the international community from the Nobel Peace Prize is that, the world needs and will want a strong Europe.
Last week, I was in Jordan, in a refugee camp with young girls and boys from Syria, refugees. I was visiting that camp and the director of UNICEF who was with me said: “Without European Union funding, these boys and girls will not have a school to study.” And then I felt proud to be European because Europe, even in times of crisis, is supporting those who have most needs in the world. The project of European integration is a project for the good of the Europeans, but also a project for the good of the world. And we are now embarking in this process of seeing what we can do further, afterwards. That is why I have proposed to all the pro-Europeans in all parts of our societies to engage in a truly political debate, and I think the election of 2014 can be a defining moment for that political debate at European level, a truly democratic debate to see how further we can go, in terms of Economic Union, of Monetary Union, of Fiscal Union, and of Political and Democratic European Union.
So this is my appeal to you and to all the pro-Europeans. Let us make sure together that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 is not awarded to an idea of the past, but to a project of the future. I believe that we will win this bet and that we will make Europe a great project for the future and for the generation that will come after us.
Thank you for your attention.