When the Barroso II Commission entered office, the exit from the crisis was in our focus, and the question was how to ensure that economic growth returns with the right qualities. As compared to that, in the first half of our mandate, we still needed to face the financial crisis itself, with ever more serious social consequences.
What started in 2007-8 as a financial sector crisis, produced from 2009 the deepest economic recession in Europe since WWII. This resulted in an employment crisis the EU has not seen before, which then, coupled with fiscal consolidation efforts, created the risk of social crises across the Member States.
For me personally, responding to the crisis represents continuity between my previous and current occupation, but of course from two very different sides. Before the beginning of 2010, as a board member of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, I had to find out how a multilateral institution created twenty years before to assist the post-communist transition can help a region which was still going through a historic transformation. Now as a Commissioner responsible for employment, social affairs and inclusion, I have to ensure that what we call a European Social Model does not become a victim of the crisis, and we can emerge from the crisis with stronger employment performance and social institutions.
Governance has to pursue goals. We expressed ambition at the beginning of the mandate through the Europe 2020 Strategy, and turning this into real achievements remains as important as before. The fact that the crisis has lasted longer than expected, and became more complex than expected, should not lead us to abandoning our goals, but to looking for new ways to achieve them.