The social dimension of Europe in the face of the crisis
During the plenary session of the Economic and Social Committee, which he had been invited to address, President Barroso said that the crisis had started with the economic and financial wheels being jammed and was now nearing 'tipping point', confronting us all with an acid test: 'Either we make social choices together that are geared to the future, ambitious and in line with our values, and a united Europe emerges from the crisis stronger, or we coast along without a true shared political course, and a fragmented Europe is marginalised.' As an example, he explained that if we want a Europe that puts citizens at the heart of its plans and takes climate change into account in order to create a green economy, then our aim is to make sure that citizens have the necessary skills to work in these new professions.
A new era of co-operation for progress in the next five years
Invited to react to the Manifesto of the Spring Alliance – a network of members from all corners of civil society and beyond – president Barroso thanked the group for the contribution and explained that his new mandate would be marked by a co-operative approach. "I want a new partnership with the Member States and the Parliament. And I want the same degree of co-operation with the social partners and civil society." Commenting on the manifesto, he admitted that he is not fully in agreement with all the assessments, but shares some of the analysis. As a good example, he said "As your Manifesto reminds us, climate change is not the only threat to the environmental health of our planet. Biodiversity loss may not attract as much attention, but it is just urgent."
Towards a sustainable, equitable, business-led recovery
President Barroso attended the annual meeting of the VKW, an association of Dutch-speaking corporations, entrepreneurs and executives in Flanders and Brussels with the Belgian prime minister Herman van Rompuy. Answering the question of what Europe needs in the coming years, he highlighted four areas. The first was the single market, "the rock on which Europe's prosperity is built. Yet it is still not delivering its full potential. I intend to launch a major analysis to find out why". The second area where Europe can make a difference was regulation. "I want to make "smart" regulation a leitmotif of Community policy from now on". The third area was research. Among the proposals, he said "Europe must become the 'continent of choice' for talented researchers from around the globe." The fourth area was skills and president Barroso remarked "Despite the large number of people who are unemployed, I know that many employers still have difficulties recruiting people with the skills they need."
Financial markets must concentrate on ethical long-term investment, not reckless short-term gambling
"Having seen the central role played by the EU in the creation of the G20 at leaders’ level a year ago, I am particularly happy with the decisions taken today and the new permanent role of the G20," president Barroso stated at the end of the meeting in Pittsburgh. The G20 agreed to tighter coordination of our main economic policies but also to rein in exorbitant bonuses and hold international finance to account. "But we will only achieve a full and sustainable recovery if we also tackle climate change and kick-start trade, concluded President Barroso. This is a test of credibility for the G20 – failure is not an option."
German ratification of the Lisbon Treaty
President Barroso welcomed the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon by Germany and thanked Germany for its European commitment and constant support for the Treaty. "With the German ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon, Europe has taken another important step towards more capacity to act, democratic accountability and influence at global level. I once again stress the importance of completing the ratification process of the Lisbon Treaty in all Member States this autumn."
Opening a new era for global Europe
A few hours before the opening of G20 in Pittsburgh, president Barroso received an honorary doctorate from the prestigious Pittsburgh University. He took this opportunity to highlight the close relations between Europe and the United States and explained why he called for a new 'Atlantic Agenda for Globalisation' last September. "This would send an important signal to the world that we are determined to mould the structures of global governance together". However, concerning the events over the last year, he noted that "in some ways, this reinvigorated transatlantic partnership is beginning to take shape spontaneously, as the economic and financial crisis forces all to step up the pace of global co-operation".
Not a time to hold cards close to our chest
"It is important that we recognise the fundamental political constraints in each of our economies but do our best to put offers together to the outer limits of those constraints" said president Barroso at the roundtable discussion on climate change, called by UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon in New York. He asked developed countries "to confirm their intention" but also developing countries "to show their readiness". Concerning this specific issue and the issue of what developing countries will need by 2020, he considered that some of the estimated $150 billion will come from public finance flows from developed to developing countries but "we should be clear that we can’t raid development budgets to pay for action against climate change". Finally, he concluded "we have to send the signal that we endorse creative thinking in the negotiations and get involved as leaders”.
Achieving a deal on climate change: the fight back has to begin this week in New York
Invited by the Council of Foreign Relations in New York to discuss the vital subject of climate change, president Barroso confessed his worries on the prospects for Copenhagen. "The negotiations are dangerously close to deadlock at the moment. It risks being an acrimonious collapse, delaying action against climate change perhaps for years. And the world right now cannot afford such a disastrous outcome."Considering that part of the answer lies in the process of the negotiations themselves, he said: "We fully back the UN process, no-one is trying to undermine it. But now is the time for putting offers on the table, offers at the outer limits of our political constraints. This is what Europe has done, to be frank, and we will be pushing others to do the same."
Visit to Ireland
President Barroso was in Limerick, Ireland, to announce the award of 14.8 million euro support for redundant Dell workers under the Globalisation Adjustment Fund. "The economic crisis is affecting all European countries but Limerick and the surrounding area have been hit hard by job losses at the local Dell plant and its suppliers," said president Barroso. "The EU is built on solidarity. Our natural response is to come to the aid of those who are experiencing difficulties and to take decisive action to tackle the job impact of the crisis. President Barroso also met local politicians, civil society and women groups to explain the Lisbon Treaty. President Barroso criticised the scaremongering of the No campaign and stressed "the need to debate on the basis of facts rather than fear".
Terrorist attack in Kaboul
"On behalf of the European Commission and on my own behalf, I would like to offer you and the people of Italy our sincere condolences, and the expression of our deepest sympathy and solidarity with the families of the six Italians soldiers who were victims of the dreadful terrorist attack yesterday in Kaboul. In this dark hour, allow me to express a condemnation in the strongest terms of this horrible terrorist attack and the support to the Italian efforts in contributing to peace in Afghanistan." That was the message sent by president Barroso to Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic.
Tragic coal mine explosion in Poland
"We are deeply saddened and shocked by the loss of life caused by the tragic coal mine explosion that occurred today in Wujek-Śląsk. On behalf of the European Commission, we would like to extend our sincerest condolences to you and to the people of Poland. Our sympathy and solidarity are with the families of the victims" said president Barroso and commissioner Paweł Samecki in a message sent to Lech Kaczynski, president of the Republic of Poland.
Make smart regulation a "Leitmotif"
President Barroso and vice president Verheugen strongly welcomed the second report of the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens - chaired by Edmund Stoiber - that advises the Commission since 2007. "We are very satisfied with the progress already made in reducing administrative burdens. We have been ambitious and serious and we continue.” He also announced that in the new Commission the better regulation services will act under his direct authority, together with impact assessment and ex-post evaluation. "I will make sure that all our new initiatives are inspired by these principles of smart regulation." He finally thanked Edmund Stoiber who has accepted to prolong his personal engagement and concluded "I believe the quality of our legislation in the European Union is critically important for the success of our economy."
Ambitions for the G20
"We need to return the financial system to viability. But we must show zero tolerance for any return to the "bad old ways" said president Barroso at the end of the informal meeting of EU heads of state and government held in Brussels to prepare for next week's Pittsburgh summit of the Group of 20 developed and emerging economies. "Our citizens are understandably horrified at reports of banks receiving public money paying exorbitant bonuses." EU heads of state and government also agreed to push hard for progress at the G20 in the fight against climate change. "I am worried about the lack of ambition in the negotiations" affirmed the president. He also sent a message to the developing world "if you are serious about the challenge of cutting emissions, we will be there to help, not with a blank cheque, but with a fair proposal".
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