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Informal European Council, 30 January 2012

It is not enough to focus on financial stability and economic discipline alone

01/02/2012

EU

Updated 1 February

On Wednesday President Barroso presented in the European Parliament the conclusions of January's Informal European Council. "Firstly, the European Council was a first but a significant step of Heads of State and Government in recognising that it is not enough to focus on financial stability and economic discipline alone," started the President and explained that "by bringing to the table concrete proposals to tackle youth unemployment and to finance SMEs, the Commission broadened the perspective towards the issues that are of greatest concern to our citizens – jobs and growth, sustainable growth."

Furthermore he stressed that the main message coming from the discussion on growth and employment on Monday was the need to do much more to unleash the potential of the Single Market, Europe's "crown jewel". President Barroso also highlighted the Commission's determination to maintain the role of the European Union institutions and of the Community method in the new Treaty. He said: "We are now entering into a new phase of economic governance, based on the European Semester, where governments recognise that even matters under their national competence, such as employment, should be dealt with at European as well as national level." He went on calling for an urgent response from Member States and made concrete proposals to halt the youth unemployment saying: "Each Member State will prepare a national job plan, centred on a youth guarantee to ensure that all young people are either in a job, in training or in education within four months of leaving school."

President Barroso concluded that the "contracting Member States agreed to respect the Commission's central role in delivering the Agreement's objectives in line with the Lisbon Treaty and the Community method. And they agreed to keep the Treaty open to all and compatible with the community method, respecting this European Parliament."

 

 

Updated 31 January

President Barroso on Tuesday sent letters to the leaders of eight member states with youth unemployment levels significantly above the EU average: Spain, Greece, Slovakia, Lithuania, Italy, Portugal, Latvia and Ireland. In the letter he outlined the proposed steps to be taken, including: the nomination of a contact person by national authorities, a visit by the Commission team in February, and the identification of the necessary elements of a youth employment plan and the support schemes for SMEs which could be accelerated or benefit from funding not yet committed from within the national Structural Funds allocation. The objective is to develop by mid-April targeted plans to be included in the National Reform Programmes in which each member state outlines its economic policy priorities in the context of the European Semester.

 

 

Updated 30 January

"We are making a root and branch reform of our budgetary and economic policies."

"Today we had a very detailed discussion on how to boost our economy And this was part of delivering what we have set out to do right from the start: to create financial stability, at the same time to put in place a basis for sustainable growth," said President Barroso at the press conference after the Informal European Council. He underlined that "the Treaty establishing the European Stability Mechanism is now ready for signature and the objective is that it enters into force in July 2012."

In his statement the President explained that the meeting today concentrated on discussing growth and employment, namely the programme against youth unemployment, the problems of our SMEs and the problems of the Internal Market. He said: "I have proposed also some concrete policies on fight of youth unemployment, the single market and small businesses. And some of these proposals can be done quickly and make their impact felt rapidly." He later on exhaustedly presented the National Job Plan to tackle youth unemployment and stressed that "to support the small businesses, which form the backbone of our economy, we also must do more internally, with the market access in our single market, but also abroad what they can gain in terms of market access also to reduce the red tape they face and also how to get easier access to finance, because this is one of the main problems SMEs in Europe now face."

President Barroso concluded stressing the importance to "keep the course, to be determined, to be coherent, to be persistent." "The reality is that many of our member states are making impressive reforms, but of course some of those results take time to appear. I believe that if we keep this line we will gain back the confidence, not only of the markets, but mainly, and this is the most important of all, the confidence of our citizens," he said.

 

 

Ahead of the informal European Council of 30 January 2012, President Barroso made the following remarks:

On growth and smart fiscal consolidation:

"Growth is and has always been at the centre of the Commission's comprehensive response to the crisis. That is precisely what the structural reform agenda is about. But since structural reforms can take time to make their benefits felt, we have also put forward many ideas to stimulate growth in the short term, for instance by using EU funding more effectively to ease the credit squeeze on small businesses. I will propose to Member States to redeploy structural funds to boost growth and job creation even further."

"We cannot resort to fiscal stimulus to boost growth at the present time. The current fragility of our economies stems from a lack of confidence in Member States' ability to pay their debts. That is why smart fiscal consolidation is crucial in our crisis response: not an end in itself, but a means to achieve sustainable public finances, without which there can be no lasting recovery. But I emphasise it must be smart: countries which cut in the very areas they need to nurture for future growth will pay a heavy price down the line. This is not a choice between fiscal consolidation and growth. We need both!"

On youth unemployment:

"We cannot accept that almost a quarter of Europe's young people are unemployed! I will be proposing the creation of joint 'action teams' with the Commission, Member States and national social partners, to come up with targeted plans by April to help tackle youth unemployment. I also want Member States to commit to a 'Youth on the Move' pact to ensure that all our young people are either in a job, in education or in training within four months of leaving school."

On support for SMEs:

"Small businesses are the backbone of the European economy – and they need our help. We must do more to help them through this crisis. The Commission has put proposals on the table to free up available funding, reduce the burden of red tape and address decisively the problem of late or non-payments of outstanding invoices, which are responsible for a quarter of all bankruptcies in Europe. These must be agreed and implemented swiftly."

Read the President's statement following the Informal European Council. SPEECH/12/49

Watch the press conference after the Informal European Council

Statement of the members of the European Council, 30 january 2012: Towards growth-friendly consolidation and job-friendly growth

The President's presentation "Growth and Jobs: Next steps" pdf - 2 MB [2 MB] Deutsch (de) français (fr) português (pt)

Speaking points on the presentation pdf - 42 KB [42 KB]

Background information: "Key figures on growth, jobs and competitiveness" pdf - 3 MB [3 MB]

EU funding for growth and jobs

Read more about the Commission's proposal for the 2012 economic priorities (2012 Annual Growth Survey)

This statement is also available on RAPID

Read more about the EU's Europe 2020 economic reform strategy

Full speech

Watch the video (EbS)

Letter to 8 member states' leaders on youth unemployment

Letter to 8 member states' leaders on youth unemployment

31/01/2012

envelopes (Commons)

President Barroso on Tuesday sent letters to the leaders of eight member states with youth unemployment levels significantly above the EU average: Spain, Greece, Slovakia, Lithuania, Italy, Portugal, Latvia and Ireland. In the letter he outlined the proposed steps to be taken, including: the nomination of a contact person by national authorities, a visit by the Commission team in February, and the identification of the necessary elements of a youth employment plan and the support schemes for SMEs which could be accelerated or benefit from funding not yet committed from within the national Structural Funds allocation. The objective is to develop by mid-April targeted plans to be included in the National Reform Programmes in which each member state outlines its economic policy priorities in the context of the European Semester.

News from the informal European Council, 30 January 2012

Letters addressed to the national leaders:

  • Spain pdf - 542 KB [542 KB] español (es)
  • Greece pdf - 573 KB [573 KB] ελληνικά (el)
  • Slovakia pdf - 156 KB [156 KB] slovenčina (sk)
  • Lithuania pdf - 129 KB [129 KB] lietuvių kalba (lt)
  • Italy pdf - 144 KB [144 KB] italiano (it)
  • Portugal pdf - 529 KB [529 KB] português (pt)
  • Latvia pdf - 134 KB [134 KB] latviešu valoda (lv)
  • Ireland pdf - 128 KB [128 KB]

Informal European Council, 30 January 2012

Meeting with Croatian Prime Minister, Mr Zoran Milanović

30/01/2012

© EU

Ahead of the informal European Council, President Barroso met the new Prime Minister of Croatia, Mr Zoran Milanović. President Barroso congratulated him on his recent appointment and the successful result of the recent Croatian accession referendum. He stressed that with this solid mandate, the new Government should now continue on the reform path towards full EU membership in July 2013 and ensure that all the commitments taken in the accession negotiations are fully respected, notably in the fields of the judiciary, human rights and competition. The Commission would continue to monitor this process. The two leaders also discussed today's Summit, agreeing on the need to boost growth and jobs for Europe's citizens.

Watch the video

Meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy

30/01/2012

© EU

President Barroso held his first meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy since he assumed office in December 2011. Ahead of the informal European Council on growth and jobs, President Barroso said: "Many of the problems the Spanish government needs to solve are also European problems. I am thinking in particular of youth unemployment, which will be an important element in the presentation I will give to the European Council this afternoon." The President said he was confident the Spanish government would support the Commission's initiatives to tackle this problem, as well as to use the Structural Funds to support SMEs in need of financing. The President also said the Commission regretted the decision of the European Parliament not to approve the protocol negotiated with Morocco on fishing rights, noting the negative economic impact of this decision on Spanish coastal regions and highlighting the possibility of using a part of the European Fisheries Fund monies allocated to Spain in order to compensate for this.

Full statement

Watch the video

EU funding for growth and jobs

27/01/2012

© EU

EU funding, in particular in the field of cohesion policy, has the clear objective of supporting growth and jobs. Equipped with € 347 bn in the period 2007-2013, it is a future-oriented investment policy. Cohesion policy has become an important part of the EU's answer to the crisis. Ahead of the informal European Council of 30 January, the Commission's message to Member States is to make full use of EU funding and instruments to underpin national efforts, and look into ways how to use effectively the remaining € 82 bn of funding from the European Social Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund not yet committed to projects.

The use of structural funds gathered pace in 2011, with payments to Member States from last year's cohesion policy budget hitting a record €32.9 bn, an 8% increase on the €30.5 bn paid out in 2010.

Read the press release

More information on cohesion policy: Regional policy; The European Social Fund

Meeting with the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Belgium, Elio Di Rupo

27/01/2012

© EU

On the Friday preceding the European Council meeting, President Barroso met the Belgian Prime Minister Di Rupo and expressed his satisfaction with the ‘government of reform’. ‘Because that is exactly what the whole of Europe needs: reform. We are in the process of giving new life to the economies in Europe which will be stronger, more integrated and more adapted to the challenges of the future,’ he said. The two leaders primarily discussed measures for stimulating growth and employment within the EU. Concerning the next informal European Council meeting, President Barroso declared: ‘On Monday, we will present ideas to relaunch, in the short term, some programmes for growth and employment.’ Budgetary stability, the International Treaty and Europe in general were also discussed.

Video from the meeting

Read the statement

Meeting with the presidents of the European political parties

26/01/2012

 © EU

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, met today with the President of the European People’s Party, Wilfried Martens, the President of the Party of European Socialists, Sergueï Stanichev, the President of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party, Sir Graham Watson and the co-presidents of the European Green Party, Monica Frassoni and Philippe Lamberts. It was an opportunity for President Barroso and the heads of the European political parties to renew their strong joint support for the fundamental principles of the integrity of the European Union, and for their respect of the treaties and the Community method. ‘Under no circumstances is this about creating new European institutions, but rather strengthening the link between the existing institutions and national bodies. To this end, it is vital that cooperation between national parliaments and the European parliament clearly subscribes to the treaties of the European Union in accordance with the Protocol’, the president stated after the meeting.

Read the statement

Meeting with the President of Bulgaria, Rosen Plevneliev

26/01/2012

© EU

During a meeting between President Barroso and Bulgarian President Plevneliev, a range of European and national issues were discussed. "At the informal European Council next Monday I will push for immediate action in three areas: tackling unemployment, especially youth unemployment; a deepening of the single market as a way to boost growth, and also specific measures to help SMEs in Europe," said President Barroso after the discussion. He expressed his concern about the youth unemployment situation which is reaching crisis point. "This is also a particular concern in Bulgaria with youth unemployment at almost 26%," the President said and added: "I hope that the informal European Council will support my proposal to establish special Action Teams to produce targeted plans based on best practice, so that we can have job programmes for youth in all our Member States, specifically those who have more difficulties in this area."

The full statement

Video from the meeting

Commission proposes reform of data protection rules

25/01/2012

Computer screen © EU

The European Commission has today proposed a comprehensive reform of the EU's 1995 data protection rules to strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe's digital economy. Technological progress and globalisation have profoundly changed the way our data is collected, accessed and used. In addition, the 27 EU Member States have implemented the 1995 rules differently, resulting in divergences in enforcement. A single law will do away with the current fragmentation and costly administrative burdens, leading to savings for businesses of around €2.3 billion a year. The initiative will help reinforce consumer confidence in online services, providing a much needed boost to growth, jobs and innovation in Europe.

Read the press release

Video from the press conference

Official meeting with Bill Gates

24/01/2012

EU

On Tuesday, President Barroso met Bill Gates to discuss further cooperation between the Commission and the Gates Foundation in the field of global development, notably regarding poverty alleviation, health and vaccination campaigns and sustainable agriculture and food security. "The EU is the world's largest donor and we will continue to invest in human development across the globe" President Barroso said. "The Commission has just proposed a substantial external aid package for 2014-2020 period that reflects this European leadership and commitment … To be as effective as possible in our support, we will deepen our cooperation with private partners, like civil society organisations and foundations", the President stressed. "The Gates Foundation will remain a key partner for us."

Watch the video

Global launch of Hiriko Driving Mobility

24/01/2012

EU

At the launch of the "Hiriko" project, which according to the President Barroso is "much more than just a small, folding and smart electric car", the European Commission President paid tribute to Diogo Vasconcelos saying: "Diogo was a person of outstanding energy and charisma. He never stopped thinking ahead, developing and connecting ideas and engaging with new people, always with one main objective in mind: a better future for all."

President Barroso underlined that "Hiriko is European social innovation at its best … Firstly, it is a successful example of how to give a new lease of life to traditional industrial sectors by contributing to address major modern societal challenges, in that specific case, urban mobility and pollution. Secondly, it is a great combination of new business types of cooperation and employment opportunities with a strong social dimension. Thirdly, it is an excellent illustration of the finest use that can be made of European social funds. Indeed Hiriko was initiated thanks to a European social fund project aiming at stimulating job creation in a disadvantaged area."

He also outlined that European Commission will soon launch a "European Social innovation prize Competition in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos". President Barroso said: "Yes, we are working for the future, but we should be focused immediately on the present. This is a very important reminder of the need to act now."

Read the full statement

Hiriko website

Video from the global launch

Meeting with the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz

24/01/2012

EU

President Barroso received the new President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, for his first official visit to the Commission. The two presidents assured each other of the genuine cooperation of their institutions and their mutual appreciation. During the meeting, they discussed current events in Europe and prospective areas for joint work. President Barroso also emphasised the importance of linking smart budgetary consolidation with actions promoting growth and employment. In view of the European Council, he said : ‘I hope that the European Council on 30 January will seriously consider the proposals currently being prepared by the Commission for stimulating growth as part of the Europe 2020 Strategy, which I will present at the European Council’.

Read the full statement

Watch the video

Meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán

It is essential for the European Commission to make sure that EU law, both in letter and in spirit, is fully respected by Hungary

24/01/2012

EU

After the meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán President Barroso said: "I received today Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to discuss the situation in Hungary. We had a comprehensive and constructive discussion. The Prime Minister indicated Hungary's readiness to address swiftly the issues raised by the Commission. On 17 January 2012, the Commission launched infringement procedures relating to a number of new provisions in Hungarian legislation, namely the independence of the country's central bank, data protection authority and certain measures affecting its judiciary. The Commission asked for detailed answers from the Hungarian authorities within a month. I have clarified with Prime Minister Orbán the work ahead that is needed to speedily address the Commission’s legal concerns. The services of the Commission have already started to work on this with the Hungarian authorities. They are ready to fully assess the formal answers from the Hungarian side as soon as we receive them. The same is valid for the information request on the independence of the judiciary. It is essential for the European Commission to make sure that EU law, both in letter and in spirit, is fully respected by Hungary, as by any other Member State. I also reiterated that there are wider political concerns that the Hungarian Government needs to address. At a time of economic and financial crisis, confidence of citizens and markets in Hungary remains particularly crucial."

Read the statement

Video from the meeting

EU accession referendum in Croatia

23/01/2012

EU

President Barroso and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, welcomed the positive result of the referendum on the accession of Croatia to the European Union in their joint press statement: "We welcome the positive outcome of the referendum on Croatia's accession to the European Union. With this vote, Croatia's citizens have given their endorsement to European integration. We congratulate Croatia and its people on their choice: EU membership will open up new opportunities for them and help secure the stability and prosperity of their nation. With this popular mandate, the Croatian government can now complete the remaining preparations for membership. We are looking forward to a smooth ratification process by the Croatian Parliament as well as by the Parliaments of all EU Member States, so that Croatia can become the Union's 28th member on 1 July 2013. The upcoming accession of Croatia sends a clear signal to the whole region of South Eastern Europe. It shows that through political courage and determined reforms, EU membership is within reach. Today's positive vote is therefore good news for Croatia, good news for the region, and good news for Europe."

The statement is also available on RAPID

Video statement by President Barroso

50th anniversary of the Common Agricultural Policy

23/01/2012

EU

At the ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), President Barroso recalled that this policy enabled European agriculture to be thoroughly modernised. The president also emphasised the role that a reformed CAP will play in supporting growth and employment: ‘A reformed CAP will play a vital role in achieving the objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, which we set in the Europe 2020 Strategy so that Europe can come out of the current crisis both stronger and more united.’

Read the statement

View the video

Launching the 50th Anniversary of the Common Agricultural Policy campaign

50 Years of the CAP - A partnership between Europe and Farmers

Meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

23/01/2012

(c) Bundesregierung / Guido Bergmann

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy met with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. They had an exchange of views in preparation of the upcoming informal European Council meeting on 30 January 2012.

Informal meeting with the Social Partners

23/01/2012

general view (c) EU

Ahead of next week's European Council which will focus on jobs and growth, President Barroso and Commissioner Andor met with the Social Partners to discuss the challenges of youth unemployment. Noting that today more than five million Europeans under the age of 25 cannot find work, the President said: "The Commission is determined to play its part in addressing this unacceptable reality." He stressed: "It is at the national level that decisive action to tackle youth unemployment is most urgently needed and this is why the active and constructive involvement of the Social Partners is so essential. It is of the utmost importance that Member States fully activate national mechanisms to use EU tools as effectively as possible. EU funds can still be reprogrammed to give priority to youth employment. The Commission stands ready to support these efforts in any way it can."

Read the full statement

Video from the event

Statement on Cyprus

20/01/2012

Flag of Cyprus

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is meeting the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, Christofias and Eroglu, on 22 – 24 January in New York. In a statement ahead of the meeting, President Barroso said: "I warmly welcome the initiative of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to convene this meeting with the leaders of the two Cypriot communities in New York. The meeting with the Secretary-General offers both leaders the opportunity in this important phase of the process to show the necessary political will, vision and determination and use this unique opportunity for reunification in Cyprus. I share the assessment of the Secretary-General that a window of opportunity currently exists and that an agreement is possible. The two leaders and the United Nations can continue to count on the European Commission's full support of their efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement. All Cypriots, the European Union and the entire region will benefit from a united Cyprus."

Read the full statement

EP Debate on the start of the Danish EU Presidency

The Europe 2020 strategy is not a strategy that can wait until 2020 – it needs action now

18/01/2012

European Parliament © EU

Speaking in the European Parliament plenary debate on the start of the Danish EU Presidency, President Barroso expressed his conviction that Denmark would make a decisive contribution to the common European project.

The President recalled the Commission's view of a comprehensive crisis response, going beyond fiscal consolidation, as put forward in its Roadmap to stability and growth last October. He said: "The Commission will urge the Member States to complete what is still pending in this Roadmap – from a lasting solution for Greece, to the implementation of a credible system of firewalls."

"While we put these instruments in place, our response cannot only be about discipline and sanctions. Yes, discipline is needed but we also need convergence. Yes, stability is indispensable but we also need growth. Europe needs greater convergence, solidarity and growth." He then reiterated that growth in Europe must come from deepening our Single Market and warned of protracted discussions on the European patent: "We must urgently reach agreement on the European patent. We have been discussing this for decades. I fully expect negotiations on this to be completed early in the Danish Presidency. I call on the three Member States, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, who are holding this up over a site issue of some offices, to swiftly find a compromise. Frankly, it is not acceptable! It is not acceptable that such a crucial initiative is blocked over such a trivial disagreement." On Europe's overall growth strategy he said: "Many of the measures we need are already on the table in the Europe 2020 growth strategy. There will be no resolution to this crisis unless we get serious about implementing them. The Europe 2020 strategy is not a strategy that can wait until 2020 – it needs action now."

Read the President's opening statement

Watch the President's opening statement at the EP Plenary Debate

Watch EP debate live

Watch the President's closing remarks at the EP Plenary Debate

Read the President's statement at the press conference following the presentation of the programme of the Danish EU Presidency

Previous news on College visit to Denmark, 11 – 12 January 2012

Watch the Joint press conference following the presentation of the programme of the Danish EU Presidency

Economic governance: Statement on the international agreement

18/01/2012

President Barroso © EU

In the European Parliament today, President Barroso described the international agreement as an "essential element of a larger package of action to respond to the sovereign debt crisis, including a strengthened and anticipated European Stability Mechanism, which is urgently needed for the stability and coherence of the Euro area". He explained that the European Parliament and the European Commission are standing firmly together in the defense of principles like the primacy of EU law, democratic accountability, importance of EU institutions and the need to integrate the agreement into the Treaties.

The President emphasised that the Commission will continue to participate constructively but vigilantly in the negotiations, and explained the amendments tabled by the Commission last week. He underlined that "the Euro area must be strengthened, yes, but not at the expense of the wider Union." He concluded by saying: "This Agreement, if these rules are respected, can be an important tool in building a solid stability and growth agenda based on the Europe 2020 strategy and also on the Roadmap presented by the Commission."

Read the full statement

Video of the statement

EP debate on the situation in Hungary

18/01/2012

Hungarian flag (Kate Dodd, Commons)

In the presence of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the European Parliament held a debate on the situation in Hungary, one day after the Commission launched three infringement procedures against the country. President Barroso, participating in the debate, said: "I believe we have to be clear on the values, firm on the principles, fair on the method and sensible on the communication." On the legal dimension of the matter, President Barroso underlined the determination of the Commission "to do everything in our power to apply EU law in a consistent and objective way and take further steps if needed." He also explained that this is "part of a sustained and determined effort by the Commission to ensure the full respect of European Union law by the Member States." President Barroso also referred to the letter addressed to him by Prime Minister Orbán announcing the intention to modify the relevant legislation and to work with the Commission in the next days in order to find legal solutions to the issues raised.

Concerning the political dimension, President Barroso made a strong appeal to the Hungarian authorities "to respect the very principles of democracy and freedom and to implement them not only in the norms but also in the practice and in the political and social life in this country."

He said: "We will continue to urge the Hungarian government to act in a responsible and democratic manner, and in the best interests of all Hungarian citizens. For it is only through a legally stable environment, based on the rule of law, democratic principles and fundamental rights, that the confidence of citizens, of partners and investors can be gained and upheld. In times of economic crisis this is more vital than ever, apart from being, of course, a question of democratic principles."

President Barroso concluded: "This should not be a debate against Hungary but for Hungary and with Hungary."

Read the full statement

Watch EP Debate

European Commission opens accelerated infringement proceedings against Hungary

We do not want the shadow of doubt on respect for democratic principles and values to remain over Hungary any longer

17/01/2012

Hungarian flag © EU

The European Commission has today started legal action against Hungary on 3 issues: the independence of the National Central Bank, the retirement age of judges and the independence of the data protection authority. The Commission has also asked the Hungarian authorities for further information on the issue of the independence of the judiciary. The Hungarian authorities now have one month to respond to the Commission's concerns. In his statement following the meeting of the College, President Barroso underlined that this decision is "the result of a sound legal analysis which the Commission has completed swiftly". He reiterated that the Commission is determined "to make sure that EU law, both in letter and in spirit are fully respected and a stable legal environment exists in all of our Member States". President Barroso welcomed the readiness of the Prime Minister of Hungary to meet him next Tuesday to discuss the concerns of the Commission.

Statement by President Barroso

Press release: European Commission launches accelerated infringement proceedings against Hungary

Infringements: Frequently Asked Questions

Congratulations to the new President of the European Parliament

17/01/2012

 © EU

President Barroso today congratulated Martin Schulz on his election as President of the European Parliament. In his speech in the plenary session, he reaffirmed the support of the Commission for the European Parliament and its new President. He stated that "today it is more important than ever to reinforce European democracy" and called on the "different political forces to work together for a strong Europe". President Barroso also thanked the outgoing President, Jerzy Buzek, who "has presided over this Parliament in an impressive and principled manner in historic and testing times."

Statement by President Barroso on the election of the new President of the European Parliament, Mr Martin Schulz

Watch the video

Diamond Award Ceremony, Katowice, Poland

16/01/2012

© EU

President Barroso received the Diamond award of Laurels of Abilities and Competence in Zabrze, Poland. In his acceptance speech to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Katowice, he stressed the importance of regions in the European Union. He emphasised the need to invest more in European regions and to support small and medium sized companies. He stated: "in Europe we have 23 million unemployed people and we have 23 million SMEs. If each one of those SMEs creates only one job, we would have problem of the unemployment solved."

Video from the event

College visit to Denmark, 11 – 12 January 2012

Fiscal discipline is indispensable for Europe. But that's not enough.

12/01/2012

Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt and President Barroso

The European Commission meets the Danish government in Copenhagen at the start of the Danish Presidency of the Council of the EU. The programme comprises a plenary meeting and different working sessions to discuss the implementation of the main priorities. These include financial stability and the creation of growth and jobs, for example through deepening the Single Market, green growth and energy efficiency. The College of Commissioners will also attend a luncheon hosted by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe as well as the opening of an exhibition on Europe's relations with the world in the Danish National Museum. On 11 January there is a press point of the President and Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt, and on 12 January a joint press conference by the two. President Barroso emphasised that Denmark can be a bridge between the euro area and non-euro area members and praised the pragmatic approach and European commitment of Denmark.

In a press door step on the first day President Barroso thanked Danish Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt and her government for the warm welcome and said: "Let me tell you that we very much share the priorities of the Danish Presidency for a more dynamic, more open, safer and greener Europe. And I believe that these tasks are going to be delivered during the Danish Presidency. We very much support you, Prime Minister, in your commitment to this kind of Europe – a Europe that is closer to citizens. As I said before – the Danish Presidency comes at a very crucial moment for the European project. We have to show to our citizens concrete results in their daily lives. There are also some risks here and there of fragmentation. We want all the Member States to be involved in our common purpose and I count on Denmark for building bridges, consolidating this kind of unity and we will work, of course, loyally and very closely with the Danish Presidency to make this presidency a success for Denmark and a success for Europe."

Updated 12 January

At the end of the Commission's visit to Copenhagen and after a meeting with the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, President Barroso said: "We have been both standing on the deck discussing big political issues, and in the engine room to look at how we can work together for concrete results for our citizens". He stressed that "the Presidency and the Commission fully agree that fiscal discipline and sound public finances are indispensable for Europe. But that is not enough! Discipline is indispensable but growth is also necessary."

The President underlined that "the structural reforms boosting competitiveness and measures enhancing growth are as important as putting our public finances in order to restore confidence. This is what the Commission has consistently advocated and insisted on in its comprehensive approach to the crisis."

He stressed that: "growth is within our reach, if we can break down the barriers that stop money, services and people flowing through our Union as they should. And the fact that Denmark puts the deepening of the Single Market and green growth at the heart of its presidency is crucial to ensure we will succeed." The President also outlined that the EU's future Multiannual Financial Framework should be discussed as part of a contribution to growth. He ended by praising the determination of the Presidency: "With this commitment, underpinned by its action at home, Denmark can be a bridge at European level and also a role model."

Official website of the Danish EU Presidency 2012

Read the Programme of the Danish EU Presidency

Watch the Press point by President Barroso and Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt , 11 January 2012

Watch the Press conference by President Barroso and Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt, 12 January 2012

Statement by President Barroso on the first day of the meeting between the European Commission and the Danish EU Presidency

Read the statement at the joint press conference, Copenhagen, 12 January 2012

Read President's speech at the opening of the "Europe meets the world" exhibition, 11 January 2012

Video from the first day

Video from the second day

Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP)

11/01/2012

President Barroso © EU

The European Commission today concluded that four out of the five Member States identified last November as needing to take immediate action to correct their excessive deficits have now done so effectively. The measures taken by Belgium, Cyprus, Malta and Poland should be sufficient to correct their excessive deficits by the agreed deadlines of 2011 or 2012. It will not therefore be necessary to take further steps at this stage under the Excessive Deficit Procedure for these four countries, though the Commission will continue to monitor closely their budgetary situations.

In the case of Hungary, the Commission concluded that sufficient progress has not been made towards a timely and sustainable correction of its excessive deficit. It has therefore recommended to the Council that Hungary be moved to the next stage of the Excessive Deficit Procedure. This is the first time the Commission has taken Excessive Deficit Procedure decisions since the EU’s strengthened economic governance rules entered into force in December 2011.

Press release: Belgium, Cyprus, Malta and Poland took effective action to correct deficit while Hungary's measures are insufficient

Read more on Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP): Five Member States assessed

Read more on the EU economic governance "Six-Pack" entering into force

Communication and Staff Working Documents on the five Member States concerned

Statement on the situation in Hungary

11/01/2012

Hungarian flag © EU

Today the European Commission made a statement on the situation in Hungary following the entry into force of the new Hungarian Constitution and of a number of cardinal laws. The Commission expressed its concerns that certain of the new provisions concerning the national central bank, the judiciary and the national data protection authority may violate EU law. The Commission declared that it stood ready "to make full use of its prerogatives to ensure that all Member States respect the obligations they have accepted as Members of the European Union". It committed to take appropriate steps, including the possibility of launching infringement procedures, and to announce its decisions on 17 January. The Commission also recalled that "a legally stable environment, based on the rule of law, including respect of media freedom, democratic principles and fundamental rights, are the best guarantees to ensure citizens' trust and the confidence of trading partners and investors."

Read more on the Statement of the European Commission on the situation in Hungary on 11 January 2012