Meeting with the African Union Commission
Europe and Africa are natural partners, bound together by a shared history, common values and mutual interests.
"Europe and Africa are natural partners, bound together by a shared history, common values and mutual interests" said President Barroso following the plenary meeting of the African Union Commission and the EU Commission. Europe and Africa will continue "fighting poverty, achieving the Millennium Development Goals, tackling climate change and promoting peace and security and human rights" together, he added, while insisting that "there can be no economic growth without the right political foundations. Development and democracy must go hand in hand".
"The encouraging historical changes on the African continent present tremendous opportunities to enhance our relations."
The African Union Commission and the European Commission are meeting in Brussels for their 5th annual College-to-College session. They will move forward on a joint agenda of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership and focus their discussion on two key issues: democracy and growth. President Barroso said prior to the meeting: "The encouraging historical changes on the African continent present tremendous opportunities to enhance our relations. For development to be sustainable, we need growth and democracy. "
Message of congratulations to the President of Nigeria
President Barroso conveyed a message of congratulations to Mr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the newly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He assured him of the European Commission's full support for the political, social and economic reforms for the benefit of Nigeria's citizen. "We value Nigeria's leadership in promoting peace, stability and development in the region, and in Africa as a whole", the President added.
"Today was not only the Summit of 'Kizuna', of friendship, but also the Summit of 'Shinrai', of trust" said President Barroso following the EU-Japan Summit in Brussels on Saturday. He announced the launching of the process towards "an ambitious Free Trade Agreement that tackles all the barriers between us". "This will release untapped potential in our economic relationship. It is also a sign of our commitment to open global trade" the President added.
Religious leaders meeting
Around 20 senior representatives from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim religions as well as from the Buddhist communities met on the invitation of President Barroso, co-chaired by EP President Buzek and Council President Van Rompuy. "Our task and ambition is to promote democracy, pluralism, the rule of law, human rights and social justice not only in Europe but also in our neighbourhood. I strongly believe these challenges cannot be met without the active contribution of the religious communities. Today's discussion confirmed our common commitment to the promotion of democratic rights and liberties, including freedom of religion and of belief." said the President.
OECD 50th anniversary
"Our future is closely linked to the future of our closest neighbours", President Barroso said in Paris, commemorating the OECD 50th anniversary. The European Neighbourhood Policy is based on economic development, social justice, and democratic reforms. "We must stand side by side with those who aspire to a greater future of political freedom and social justice", he declared, adding that "we must show our support through actions, not just words".
Statement by President Barroso on the arrest of Ratko Mladic
"I strongly welcome the arrest of Ratko Mladic by Serbia's authorities. This is an important step forward for Serbia and for international justice. I congratulate President Tadic and Serbia's Government for this courageous action." said President Barroso. He also added: "During my visit to Belgrade last week, I strongly reiterated the EU's firm support to Serbia's European perspective. The arrest of Ratko Mladic is therefore a very positive development for the European Union, for Serbia's neighbours, but most of all for the rule of law in Serbia itself. The families of his countless victims deserve justice."
G8 Summit, Deauville, 26 to 27 May
This was a successful G8 summit
In a joint statement by President Barroso and President Van Rompuy following the G8 Summit, the two Presidents expressed their satisfaction with the results from the Summit: "On Northern Africa and the Middle East, we have agreed on a global concerted response. The Deauville Partnership builds very much on the EU’s new partnership with the region, as clearly reflected in the Summit Declaration". On the economy, there has been "clear determination by all partners to address those issues in each region that could hamper the global recovery, which we all want to speed up". The first ever joint declaration on Africa, as well as the G8 agreement to enhance international standards on nuclear safety as the EU asked for, are also among the important results of the Summit.
"We must stand with those who seek freedom and democracy."
Support to the democratic transitions in the Middle East and Northern Africa, the highest possible safety standards around the world for nuclear energy, deepening of the G8's special commitment to Africa and more effective multilateralism and global policy-making, notably on world trade issues, are the four main areas in which the EU wants to achieve results, President Barroso said in his statement at the press conference before the G8 Summit. On the democratic transitions in the Middle East and North Africa, the President stated: "We must stand with those who seek freedom and democracy." and added that in the framework of the Commission's Neighbourhood Policy review, the Commission is "putting the largest amount of money on the table. I will set out to the G8 this new approach. It means more support for more reform".
"Shaping and supporting a changing world"
The G8 summit will take place from 26 to 27 May in Deauville (France). In 2011, France chairs both the G8 and the G20. The European Union, as a full member of the G8, will push for ambitious answers to common challenges.
This is the first time since the beginning of the transitions in the Arab world that the G8 leaders convene to address these developments. The Summit is expected to deliver a strong message of support to the democratic transition. "The European Union will come to Deauville to push for a new partnership of the G8 with those neighbours in the Southern Mediterranean that have chosen the path of freedom and democracy" said President Barroso. The EU has already set out its approach towards the region in its strategy on the 'Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity'.
The Commission has just proposed ambitious actions to support our neighbours to the South and East even more effectively under its Neighbourhood Policy review . This includes additional aid of 1.24 billion € that would bring our total support for the regions to nearly 8 billion in the next two years. The EU thus remains by far the largest donor and investor in political and economic reforms.
The gathering will also serve as a platform to promote nuclear safety at global level following the nuclear incident in Japan. In a statement on Wednesday, President Barroso said that "the EU will seek to commit its partners to highest safety standards, ambitious stress-testing of nuclear power plants and enhanced international cooperation."
The main topics to be discussed by G8 leaders in Deauville are:
Deauville G8 Declaration [119 KB]
Meeting with the President of Paraguay
Following his meeting with the President of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, President Barroso said the EU is ready to strengthen its relations with Paraguay, in particular in the areas of education, the fight against climate change and energy. The two leaders discussed the ongoing negotiations to reach an Association agreement between the EU and Mercosur. "We have reiterated our commitment to follow the negotiations and I believe that this is going to be a global, balanced and ambitious agreement" said President Barroso.
Opening of the Permanent Representation of Poland to the EU
At the inauguration of the new building of the Polish Permanent Representation to the EU, President Barroso met with the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. The two leaders discussed the forthcoming Polish Presidency and the EU's current agenda, notably the EU's financial perspectives. They agreed that "From 2014, the EU has to be equipped with a modern budget able to face today's challenges and to invest in the future". President Barroso added "Poland has every intention of delivering a strong and ambitious Presidency, to enact a similarly strong and ambitious European agenda".
Message of congratulations to the President of the Ivory Coast
President Barroso sent a message of congratulations to Mr Alassane Dramane Ouattara, the President of the Republic of Ivory Coast, in which he expressed his delight at his appointment. ‘The Ivorian people have placed their confidence in you to meet the many challenges facing your country in terms of stabilisation, governance and combating poverty,’ he added, renewing the EU’s support under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement.
Visit to South Eastern Europe
I am here to confirm our strong commitment to Kosovo's European perspective, but it is also clear that you hold the key to your own European future
"The countries of South Eastern Europe belong in the European Union"
President Barroso travels to Serbia and Kosovo on 19 and 20 May. He will hold meetings with political leaders as well as civil society representatives. The President said: "Enlargement remains a powerful tool for deepening democracy, security and prosperity in Europe. But it is for our partners themselves to determine the pace of their European future. I will encourage the leaders in Serbia and Kosovo to accelerate the reforms and tackle the challenges and conditions with renewed vigour."
"I am confident that Serbia will do its utmost on outstanding challenges"
"2011 is a year of opportunities for our enlargement policy in general - and for Serbia in particular" President Barroso said, following his meeting with Boris Tadić, President of the Republic of Serbia. "Time is running and Serbia still has to tackle important outstanding issues until the Commission publishes its opinion in October", he added. He acknowledged the efforts underway and particularly stressed the importance of the EU's political criteria and of full cooperation with the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia).
"I am here to confirm our strong commitment to Kosovo's European perspective, but it is also clear that you hold the key to your own European future."
Following his meeting with Hashim Thaçi, Prime Minister of Kosovo, President Barroso stated that the Commission "will continue to help Kosovo on "the road to Europe". We have provided substantial financial assistance and political advice over the last decade, and we will keep supporting you." The President strongly encouraged Kosovo to accelerate its reforms to "strengthen the rule of law and public administration", as well as to build a strong economic programme delivering to its citizens.
Message of condolences to the Taoiseach of Ireland
President Barroso sent a message of condolences to Mr Enda Kenny, Taoiseach of Ireland, on the death of Dr. Garret FitzGerald, former Taoiseach of Ireland. President Barroso paid tribute to him as "a great leader of the Irish people and a committed and outstanding European". He added: "Throughout his life Dr. FitzGerald was a passionate advocate of Ireland's active membership of the European Union", reminding of his important role in European affairs.
A European economy fit for the future
"I don't now see anyone in Europe able to oppose the need for economic reform. At different paces yes, with different rhythms, sometimes with different determination, but there is a clear wind in favour of economic reform in Europe", President Barroso said at the Brussels Economic Forum, referring to the necessary changes following the crisis Europe has faced. He also estimated that thanks to reforms, Europe is today better equipped to face challenges and to bring prosperity to all its citizens.
Meeting with the Prime Minister of Estonia
President Barroso met with Mr Andrus Ansip, Prime Minister of Estonia. The President thanked him for Estonia's support for the Single Market Act and congratulated Estonia for the political agreement reached in December on Tallinn as the seat of the EU Information Technology Agency. President Barroso also assured Prime Minister Ansip of the EU's continued support for the Eastern Partnership.
Meeting with the Prime Minister of Hungary
During his meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán today, President Barroso expressed his appreciation for the hard work done by the Presidency up to now. The two leaders discussed the legislative package on economic governance and President Barroso told Prime Minister Orbán that the Commission will do its utmost to help secure an agreement on the package by June.
European Business Summit
"A new economic governance, coupled with structural reforms and more intensive policy coordination, will stabilise the foundations of Europe's economy and internal cohesion" said President Barroso in his address to European business leaders. He expressed the hope that the new system of governance and the country specific recommendations that the Commission will present at the beginning of next month will be adopted by the Member States. "I do not see now in today's Europe one government that is not committed to structural reform" he added.
Visit to Antwerp - European Youth Week and Port of Antwerp
You are Europe's best bet for a stronger future
"Europe's future and prosperity depends on you", President Barroso said in the context of the European Youth week in Antwerp. Admitting that the youth environment is more competitive and pressured than in previous generations, the President explained that young people are directly targeted by the Europe 2020 strategy, since it promotes education, employment and mobility through initiatives like Youth on the Move. The President also visited the Port of Antwerp, one of Europe's most important gateways for trade with the world.
Visit to the Netherlands
President Barroso opened the new Europa House, the Commission's and European Parliament's new Representation in The Hague. "I hope this house becomes a place of debate – for Europe needs a critical debate", he said. President Barroso stressed the importance of openness for the European success project. "Free movement is to Europe what foundations are to buildings - remove it and the whole structure is undermined", he declared. That is why solidarity and responsibility must be and stay the key words for European actions, he added.
Message of sympathy to José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero
It is with great sadness and emotion that President Barroso learned of the terrible earthquake that occurred in Lorca in Spain. The President sent a message of sympathy to the Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in which he offered his heartfelt condolences to the victims' families.
Meeting representatives of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
President Barroso met with the President of UEAPME (European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), Mr. Loek Hermans, and Secretary General, Andrea Benassi. He emphasised the important role that small and medium-sized enterprises play for European recovery and innovation. He stated that the Commission will continue to support SMEs in the context of the Small Business Act, through administrative burden reduction and financial support beyond 2013. He also left no doubt about the need to facilitate access to finance for SMEs.
Message of congratulations to Mr Stephen Harper
President Barroso sent a message of congratulations to Mr Stephen Harper on the latter's reappointment as Prime Minister of Canada. The President expressed his hope that the conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement will bring "further benefits to the peoples of Canada and the EU and will reflect our common engagement to promote free trade". He also looks forward to working with PM Harper in the UN, G8 and G20 contexts on the on-going global challenges.
Migration flows and their impact on Schengen
During a debate in the EP, President Barroso stated that "it is a great progress of civilization that countries are able to put borders down and let citizens flow freely". He reminded that already last year, the Commission put forward proposals to preserve and strengthen the evaluation mechanism of Schengen as a central achievement of the EU project. He left no doubt that "solidarity and responsibility are the key words in our response. Immigration is a European challenge. Immigration requires a European response."
Speech at the 4th UN Conference on Least Developed Countries
Europe remains totally committed to helping the poorest developing countries
President Barroso said: "The world is coming together to eradicate poverty in the poorest members of the global community. The European Union will continue to show leadership in this critical endeavour. As the world's most generous donor, we provide more than half of the global aid to our partners and have tripled our assistance the Least Developed Countries to 15 billion euro a year. This tangible European solidarity is a matter of justice, but also a strategic necessity."
Study Days of the European People's Party in Palermo
President Barroso outlined the EU's willingness and action to support the democratic transition in the Southern Mediterranean and expressed his conviction that this partnership can be of mutual benefit. He then outlined the Commission's vision of a common migration and asylum policy, based on responsibility and solidarity. "Migration pressure is not just a national problem, it is a European one requiring a joint European response". He appealed not to abandon Schengen, but to cherish its achievements in terms of freedom and security, while ensuring its proper functioning.
Europe Day on 9th May - Statement on the 61st anniversary of the Schuman Declaration
President Barroso praised Robert Schuman as a visionary pragmatist who knew that Europe could only be built in different steps and through concrete achievements. He also referred to the achievements of European integration and to the current challenges and European answers to them. The President then expressed his conviction that "the European Union has maintained and increased its capacity to act despite or thanks to the various challenges it is facing, with the European Commission continuing to drive forward solutions and advances of our European Union."
Towards a common migration policy
Only a reinforced partnership with the Southern Mediterranean countries will allow a sustainable solution for the current migratory pressure
As recent events illustrate, Europe has to make further progress on a common migration policy. This is why the Commission today proposed to do more together to fight irregular migration by strengthening our external border controls and through a real partnership with third countries. The Commission also called for progress on our common visa policy and wants the EU to look at legal migration and integration. Finally, the Commission wants the EU to move forward towards a joint asylum policy.
Read the Communication on Migration [273 KB]
Meeting with the Foreign Minister of Japan
President Barroso yesterday met with H.E. Takeaki Matsumoto, the Foreign Minister of Japan. On the aftermath of the tragic earthquake, the President reiterated the EU's sympathy and support to Japan. In the light of the Fukushima incident, he stressed the importance of reinforcing global nuclear safety standards. Regarding the upcoming EU-Japan Summit, President Barroso reiterated the intention to deepen relations under a common, comprehensive approach and to work towards a political Framework Agreement and a Free Trade Agreement.
World Press Freedom Day
"Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental pillars of our democracies and of the European Union", President Barroso said on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day. Reminding of the crucial role of the media in ensuring that citizens have access to ideas and information, he declared that "this freedom must be preserved and reinforced wherever it is under threat". He concluded by stating that the "threats that weigh on journalists are unacceptable. Those who are imprisoned or held hostage today must be released without delay."
Message of sympathy to Barack Obama
"The news and images of the devastation and the terrible ravages caused by the storms and tornadoes that killed hundreds and injured thousands across the South of the United States of America have filled me with grief and sorrow", President Barroso said in his message to the American President, following the recent deadly storms. President Barroso offered his condolences to the families of the victims and to the American people, and assured the U.S. Government of the EU's support if needed.
Statement by EU leaders on the death of Osama Bin Laden
"Osama Bin Laden was a criminal responsible for heinous terrorist attacks that cost the lives of thousands of innocent people. His death makes the world a safer place", President Barroso said today. He stressed that the EU will continue to stand with the U.S. and its friends in the Muslim world in fighting terrorism, and "in building a world of peace, security and prosperity for all".