Meeting with Mr Renato Schifani, President of the Italian Senate
During a very useful exchange of views on Friday morning, Mr Schifani updated the President on Italy's economic reform agenda, including the labour market reform, which he said the Italian Parliament is committed to adopting by the summer.
President Barroso warmly welcomed the impressive progress made by Italy in recent months in implementing numerous important reforms – and doing so with a high level of political consensus.
He praised the courage and responsibility shown by Italy's main political parties and encouraged a swift adoption of the further reforms that are so important for restoring confidence and competitiveness.
Nuclear Security Summit and EU – Republic of Korea Summit (26–28 March)
South Korea is a natural and likeminded partner of the European Union
Updated 28 March
On Wednesday 28 March the European Union held its 6th summit with the Republic of Korea. The leaders discussed bilateral relations as well as regional and global issues.
They warmly welcomed the expansion of bilateral trade after the provisional application of the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement on 1 July 2011. "South Korea is a natural and likeminded partner of the European Union. We are now working closely to reap the full potential of our strategic partnership and our trade and investment relations." said the President at the press conference following the summit.
One of the most fruitful areas of EU – South Korea bilateral cooperation are joint initiatives and exchanges of personnel and students in the fields of education, science, research and innovation. In this respect, it is agreed that South Korea and the EU will try to reinforce the existing cooperation within the framework of the Erasmus Mundus and other programmes.
"Nuclear safety is an absolute priority for the European Union"
The Nuclear Security Summit brings together in Seoul the leaders of 53 countries and heads of international organisations to discuss progress in efforts to strengthen global nuclear security. In his speech at the summit President Barroso stressed that safety, security and non-proliferation are absolute priorities for the European Union and added: "In the wake of the Fukushima tragedy, Europe has taken the lead in defining and carrying out comprehensive risk and safety assessments of all nuclear power plants in the EU. We are conducting tough 'stress tests' on the basis of an agreed methodology, which can serve as a model for our partners."
These 'stress tests' began last June and proceed along two tracks. Track 1 (safety) assesses how nuclear power plants can withstand extreme events or disasters, whether natural or man-made. These checks go beyond previous licensing processes. Track 2 (security) focuses on security threats, on the prevention and response to deliberate, terrorist acts. The final results of these tests will be made public in June, following detailed peer reviews by experts from all EU Member States. The EU has also already invited all its neighbours to be involved in the stress tests, such as Switzerland, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine. Several are well on board.
The President concluded with a call to international partners: "Radiation knows no borders - the Fukushima accident demonstrated that. We therefore need a true cross-border, global approach to nuclear safety. Our aim is a more robust and solid nuclear framework worldwide. We strongly support tighter international rules for the peaceful, safe and sustainable use of nuclear energy."
Condolence message: death of Italian writer Antonio Tabucchi
"On my own behalf and on behalf of the European Commission I would like to pay heartfelt tribute to the Italian writer Antonio Tabucchi, a naturalised Portuguese, a European citizen committed to spreading European languages and culture and honoured with major literary awards in Italy, France and Spain."
2nd high-level conference on Multiannual Financial Framework
Multiannual Financial Framework: A budget for investment - a tool for growth and jobs.
President Barroso as well as several other Members of the Commission attended the second high-level conference on the Multiannual Financial Framework organised jointly by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Danish Presidency.
In his speech and press statement President Barroso underlined the character of the EU budget as a budget to support the EU's strategy Europe 2020 and one that can help investment in growth and jobs. He focussed on the European added value and key spending areas of the future budget, including the Connecting Europe Facility to interconnect European infrastructure. He also mentioned the proposed macro-economic conditionality of the future budget to enhance stability in Europe and increase confidence.
Concerning the proposed new mix of own resources, President Barroso presented for the first time some preliminary estimates on how a EU Financial Transaction Tax could reduce Member States' contributions based on their Gross National Income. The Commission had proposed to share the FTT revenue in a way that 2/3 would go to the EU budget and 1/3 to the national budgets. This could reduce the Member States' GNI contribution to the EU budget by up 50%. He reiterated that the FTT is a matter of fairness by asking the financial sector to contribute.
The President underlined the need to continue open and constructive discussions and reach an agreement on the future financial framework by the end of 2012.
5th European Summit of Regions and Cities in Copenhagen
President Barroso opened the summit with a speech that focused on the key role of European urban areas in contributing to our growth and jobs agenda. He recalled that the Commission's proposal for a modernised cohesion policy sets out an ambitious urban agenda articulated around three main principles, namely sustainability, innovation and partnership.
The President elaborated on these three main principles, giving concrete examples of proposed measures, such as a 5% minimum ring-fencing for the purpose of integrated sustainable urban development and 400 million euros set aside for urban innovative actions.
President Barroso concluded with a strong appeal: "I think it is critically important that the leaders of the cities, the leaders of the local authorities in Europe, take a stronger role in the debate in defence of Europe."
Meeting with Mr. Salva Kiir, President of South Sudan
After meeting with the President of South Sudan, President Barroso stated: "President Kiir informed me of the efforts that his government is undertaking to consolidate South Sudan's independence and build a stable and functioning state. We, at the European Commission, are longstanding friends of South Sudan and we want to be part of the country's journey to stability and prosperity."
The President continued: "I commended the President on the progress achieved so far in the talks with Sudan to resolve outstanding issues, in particular on citizenship and border demarcation. President Kiir’s leadership in this process is key and I urged him to continue his efforts to building a lasting and stable relationship with Sudan," and added: "The truth is that both countries – Sudan and South Sudan – are destined to live side by side. They must do so in peace and harmony for the benefit of their peoples. Both sides must show determination to find a negotiated solution to all remaining outstanding issues."
President Barroso concluded by stressing that "Our commitment with South Sudan has not started yesterday and will not cease tomorrow. It is a partnership we want to build for the long haul. South Sudan and its people can count on the European Union as a steadfast partner to build our future together."
Meeting with Mr Izetbegovic, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina
After the meeting President Barroso said: "I have welcomed a number of recent positive developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the adoption of the State aid law and the census law which are crucial steps for progress on the country's European integration path."
He continued by stressing that despite the good progress that has been made in some areas, further work needs to be done so that Bosnia can realize its European perspective. "I underlined in particular that a credible effort in bringing the country's Constitution into compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights is essential," said the President and added that he also expects progress regarding the implementation of the Sejdić-Finci ruling of the European Court of Human Rights.
President Barroso concluded: "As I said in my visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina last April: "Bosnia is not alone." And Bosnia should not remain alone. Our commitment in the country's journey to the European Union is clear and firm."
Meeting with Mr Lukšić, Prime Minister of Montenegro
At the meeting discussions focused mainly on Montenegro's achievements in its EU accession path as well as the next steps. President Barroso said: "Clearly, Montenegro has worked very hard on its EU agenda, in particular since December 2010 when it was granted EU candidate status and Prime Minister Lukšić took office. I have commended the Prime Minister on his strong leadership in this process."
The President continued: "Montenegro is in principle close to opening accession negotiations. Now it needs to run the final straight towards this ambitious objective," and underlined he has "encouraged the Prime Minister to continue delivering further concrete results in these key fields, meaning the rule of law and fundamental rights, but also the fight against corruption and organized crime. In these areas, there is still significant work to be done."
"I am also encouraged by the firm national consensus and the strong commitment of the Montenegrin people to move forward on the path towards European Union membership. As I said last year, when I visited Podgorica, and I believe still to be true today: "Montenegro is on the right track!" concluded the President and assured the Prime Minister that the Commission will continue to provide support to Montenegro at this crucial stage of the accession process.
Meeting with Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, President of the Swiss Confederation
Following the meeting, President Barroso took the opportunity to thank ‘the Swiss authorities, police and emergency services and especially the citizens of Valais for their joint cooperation and efficient help following the terrible Belgian coach accident in Sierre on 13 March’.
Concerning bilateral relations, President Barroso underlined the importance of ‘taking the next step’ in the relationship between the EU and Switzerland on the two following points: a comprehensive institutional approach to Swiss participation in key parts of the European internal market, and taxation of savings.
He reiterated his desire ‘to see a clear and unequivocal signal from Switzerland that these principles form the new basis of our cooperation’, that would enable negotiations on certain issues to be concluded. The President expressed his satisfaction with the Swiss President’s commitment to put forward proposals on the institutional issues within the next few weeks.
With regard to taxation of savings, President Barroso expressed his confidence that quick progress can be made on receipt of the mandate from the Council. This would allow negotiations to be opened with Switzerland on making the existing agreement comply with the improvements of the future Union Directive on the taxation of savings.
Message from the President: 20th anniversary of DG ECHO
The 20th anniversary of the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Directorate-General, better known as ECHO, is a good reason to celebrate and an occasion to recall the essential work that ECHO and its staff are performing every day. Together with our partners "we have been able to reach out to nearly 150 million of people in need, in over 80 countries," said the President in his speech opening the celebration.
ECHO started as a small European Community Humanitarian Office in the beginning of the 1990s after a series of extreme humanitarian catastrophes. European countries were at the forefront of international efforts to bring relief, but the volume of disasters called for a more coordinated approach. "The case for 'more Europe', also in the humanitarian field, was obvious," said the President and added: "ECHO's work is far from symbolic: it means concrete and rapid help on the ground."
The President concluded with a tribute to the generosity of the European citizens. Thanks to them, the European Union is and remains the world’s leading donor, in humanitarian aid and beyond.
Meeting with Mr Jakob Kellenberger, President of the ICRC
On Tuesday 20 March President José Manuel Barroso received Mr Jakob Kellenberger, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). There is a strong partnership between ICRC and the Commission based on shared values and political priorities. ECHO, the Commission's body for humanitarian aid and civil protection, is the ICRC's second largest contributor and cooperates very successfully with the ICRC in crisis areas around the globe.
At the meeting, the two Presidents discussed the situations in Syria and the Horn of Africa, where humanitarian access is of prime importance. They also discussed ways to further improve the practical cooperation between the Commission and the ICRC, notably in the transition phase from crisis relief to recovery and development cooperation.
President Barroso's visit to Ispra and Milan, Italy (16 – 17 March)
Italy's efforts have helped to restore confidence
On Saturday 17 March President Jose Manuel Barroso delivered a key-note speech at the conference hosted by the Italian business association Confindustria in Milan. In the margins of the conference he also met with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. During their meeting and also in his speech the President appreciated "boldness and the courage of Mario Monti's government and the spirit of compromise and consensus that has been demonstrated by the main political forces and social partners," and he added: "I also salute the wisdom of the Italian people for supporting the reform actions of the government and the parliament. Italy has embarked on a remarkable reform programme to reduce the public debt and address the structural problems that weigh on the Italian economy's growth potential. And this very ambitious strategy has clearly helped to restore market confidence." He insisted however that the crisis is not yet over and the efforts for consolidation and reforms must continue.
On Friday 16 March in the afternoon, the President talked to students at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. In his speech he focused on the question of how Europe can face its current challenges. He also invited participants to share their questions and views in a follow up discussion.
On Friday morning he visited for the first time the European Commission's in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra (Northern Italy). The President met with staff of the Joint Research Centre and visited a number of laboratories and test centres. He also inaugurated the new European Crisis Management Laboratory, which supports the EU's interventions in areas struck by disaster around the globe.
At the press doorstep, the President said: "Being in the crisis laboratory today frankly was pretty much familiar to me because – after all - managing a crisis has since long become a daily task of the European Union and for me personally. Building lifeboats in the middle of a storm has definitely not been easy. We have not yet reached the port, but at least we have developed the sense of direction, the skills and the instruments that will allow us to get there: Clearly, the crisis is not yet over. It still requires continued efforts and sometimes painful sacrifices. But it is important that the sacrifices are equally distributed with a sense of equity and social justice. And it means, and here I look at all Member States, that we implement what we have committed to."
President's statement after the tragedy at the Ozar Hatora school in Toulouse
"I was deeply shocked to learn of the crime committed this morning outside the Ozar Hatora Jewish high school in Toulouse.
I have passed on my most sincere condolences to the families of the victims.
Our thoughts also go to the injured and to all the children who have lost several of their schoolmates.
On behalf of the European Commission, I wish to firmly condemn this hateful crime and to express the horror that we all feel at this blind violence. Nothing is more intolerable than the murder of innocent children."
Condolence message: Death of Pope Shenouda III
"I was deeply saddened to learn the news of the death of Pope Shenouda III, the Head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
Pope Shenouda was a respected national and religious leader who has always strived for freedom of religion and belief. The best tribute Egypt could pay to his memory would be to fully protect these rights and preserve national unity.
On behalf of the European Commission I would like to offer my sincere condolences to all the Coptic community."
Message to the new German President, Mr Joachim Gauck
"In the name of the entire European Commission I should like to offer my warmest congratulations on your election.
Your election comes at a time of historic challenges for Europe. Overcoming the government debt crisis and the competitive pressure of globalisation poses a serious test for us all, but especially for the citizens of Europe, men and women alike. If we are to master the economic and social challenges of the 21st century, European cohesion and solidarity are essential.
Solidarity within the European Union is not the least of the factors guaranteeing us peace, security and democracy in Europe today. The European internal market is the driving force behind our prosperity. Protection for human dignity, freedom to travel, the Euro as our common currency - all too many people have come to take all this for granted. But Europe’s position and its values in a changing world stand and fall with our ability to act together – more than ever before this has to be realised and put into practice accordingly.
I would therefore ask you: let us work together to promote Europe and our shared European values to the men and women who are our citizens. European integration is not just the legacy of the founding fathers – it is a task for current and future political action. We would do well to remember the words from Goethe’s Faust: “Freedom and life are earned by those alone who conquer them each day anew.
I wish you every success, together with energy and good health for your term in office."
Message to the new President of Moldova, Mr Nicolae Timofti
"On behalf of the European Commission, I wish to congratulate you on your election as President of the Republic of Moldova.
You take oath of office at a particularly important moment of your country’s history. I am confident that, under your leadership, Moldova will address the challenges it faces in pursuing its ambitious reform agenda, continuing its path towards democracy and social consolidation, strengthening economic growth, as well as defusing tensions in the region.
On all these issues, your leadership will be crucial. You can count on the European Commission’s full support in pursuing these ambitious goals for the benefit of the citizens of Moldova.
Let me extend to you my personal good wishes for a successful term as President of the Republic of Moldova."
Task Force for Greece: second quarterly report
The support provided by the Commission's Task Force is a key instrument to support growth and jobs in Greece
The second report of the Task Force for Greece presented today has shown that a lot has been achieved since the creation of the Task Force by President Barroso in July 2011.
The President said: "Greece's future passes through restoring both financial stability and growth potential. The support provided by the Commission's Task Force is a key instrument to support growth and jobs in Greece. The solidarity shown by many Member States, the Commission, and other international institutions is a very encouraging signal for this country. Let's build a future for Greece together".
First of all, EU funds – one of the very few sources of growth financing presently available in Greece – are being better targeted and spent. Greek absorption of the funds now reaches to 35% - above EU average. Work has been sped up on 181 priority projects with high potential for growth including 5 highway concessions (1.400km and 30.000 potential jobs) and support to small and medium enterprises.
Unprecedented technical assistance has been provided by 16 Member States, the European Commission and International Monetary Fund. Experts from areas like tax administration, public financial management or the health sector are providing Greek authorities with tailored advice on the ground.
The Commission's Task Force for Greece started operating in September 2011. It reports to the President and works under the political guidance of Vice President Olli Rehn. The Task Force consists of around 45 persons and is based jointly in Brussels and Athens.
Meeting with Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu, the Prime Minister of Romania
At the meeting, a range of issues was discussed starting with the economic situation. President Barroso acknowledged the good cooperation under the EU-IMF financial assistance programme. He particularly welcomed the fact that the programme is on track and the commitment from the Prime Minister Ungureanu to fully implement the programme and adhere to the fiscal targets in 2012.
The President continued by recalling the practical help that the European Union is providing in terms of investments in Romania, mainly through EU structural and cohesion funds. He expressed his hope that Romania increase the absorption of available funds according the priority action plan that was established following the President's visit to Romania in November 2010 to address, among other areas, the problem of youth unemployment. "The Commission is prepared to look favourably on Romania's request on the period of eligibility for a 10% top-up of structural funds, as long as this is exclusively used for promotion of growth and employment" said the President.
He concluded by stating that the Commission rejects any attempts to link the mechanism to the Schengen accession process, but "the Commission will push for the final decision to be taken by September at the latest."
Meeting with US Congressman Jim Costa
A wide range of issues on EU-US relations were discussed at the meeting, with the focus on the global economy. President Barroso shared his view that the EU-US High Level Working Group on jobs and growth is progressing well and that further liberalisation of EU-US trade brings clear benefits to both sides. The President welcomed the fact that both sides are fully committed to continue the discussion towards this end.
Other topics were also briefly touched upon, such as the run-up to US presidential elections. The President also expressed his appreciation for strong and effective bilateral cooperation in many areas, especially in foreign affairs.
Condolences to the Belgian Prime Minister: tragic bus accident in Switzerland
"On my own behalf, and on behalf of the European Commission, let me express my sincere condolences and deepest sympathy to the families who were struck by the terrible bus accident that occurred last night in Switzerland.
The fact, that most of the victims of the accident are children makes it even more dramatic. My thoughts are also with all injured whom I wish a rapid recovery.
European Council 1 - 2 March 2012
In the coming weeks I intend to present a Communication on growth and jobs for Greece
updated 13 March 2012
President Barroso presented in the European Parliament the outcome of the spring European Council, namely on Greece and on measures taken to encourage financial stability and job-creating growth through the Europe 2020 agenda.
President Barroso announced that in the coming weeks he intends to present a Communication on growth and jobs for Greece, taking stock of the progress that has been made and setting out the top priorities for the future.
He also called on member states to close the implementation gap between the European Council statements and the delivery of action in the member states. He cited the issue of taxation, saying "There is no reason for any further delay on adopting the revised Savings Directive and the negotiating mandates for tax agreements with third countries."
updated 02 March 2012
We now have a new phase in economic governance and the commitment to a growth agenda.
Today at the final press conference concluding the Spring European Council, President Barroso welcomed the signature of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance, and stressed that he now believes that since this culture of financial stability has been consolidated, there are now better conditions to address other very important matters of the Union.
On Thursday night the President pointed out that: "I think there is a consensus on the need to close the implementation gap so that the decisions taken in the European Council by Heads of State and Government afterwards are really followed by concrete decisions in the Council. This has sometimes been a problem, and I think that there is this sense of momentum now."
He continued "My sincere impression is that Heads of State and Government are now considering the European semester as serious business. It is important that it is understood it is not imposed from Brussels. The policy will now be reflected in National Reform Programmes and afterwards in the Country-specific recommendations." He further explained: "Today I have on behalf of the Commission pushed for project bonds – growth bonds for EU Infrastructure projects".
He concluded by outlining the upcoming international agenda for the EU and by welcoming the progress regarding the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen and the decision on giving candidate status to Serbia.
What is needed now is not new plans but a firm commitment to delivering what has been agreed.
"I will come to the European Council tomorrow with a message on growth, sustainable growth" said President Barroso at the press conference ahead of the European Council and added that "we now need to invest as much in getting Europe back into growth as we are currently investing in getting Europe out of the crisis". The President stressed that spotlight on growth is justified because the European Commission has been making significant progress on the other priorities, which he later on also presented in detail. He stressed that "what is needed now is not new plans but a firm commitment to delivering what has been agreed". President Barroso concluded: "At the last informal European Council I called for priority to be given to two issues which are key to our growth drive: reducing youth unemployment and increasing support for small businesses. Tomorrow, I would like the European Council to focus on two other issues we need to boost the growth potential for Europe: funding for transport, energy and ICT infrastructure projects and secondly, the urgency of bringing down the cost of broadband roll out."
Now it's time to be concrete. Now it's time to decide on the concrete proposals the Commission has put on the table.
Ahead of the European Council, President Barroso has sent a letter to the members of the European Council on boosting growth, competitiveness and employment. Included is an annex providing an overview of the state of play on initiatives referred to in a recent letter received from 12 Member States.
The main messages of President Barroso's letter are: "Now it's time to be concrete. Now it's time decide on the concrete proposals the Commission has put on the table." "We all agree on the importance of taking the right decisions for our future growth and competitiveness. The true test we now face is whether we can translate these good intentions into results on the ground." "Research and innovation hold the key to Europe's future competitiveness. This is another area where acting now will pay rich dividends in the future… And I need not repeat how important a swift agreement on a European patent is – after a thirty year wait, it is time to deliver." "Nobody wants to see the innovative potential of small businesses being smothered by red tape… We have already tabled measures that would reduce administrative burden by up to €40 billion. They have not all been adopted to date". "Your letter concludes by recognising that the ambitious agenda that we share 'requires leadership and tough political decisions'. I agree – and you will not find the Commission wanting in this regard."
Annex to the letter [647 KB]
Meeting with Werner Hoyer, the President of the European Investment Bank
President Barroso and European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer have held their first meeting since the latter's appointment on 1 January. The EIB has a crucial role to play in underpinning the investments needed to boost growth and job creation in Europe.
The discussion focused on ways in which the EIB could help drive economic recovery in Greece, in particular through support to small and medium sized enterprises and key infrastructure projects – two high-priority areas mentioned in the letter President Barroso sent to Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos last week.
Both institutions will look at ways to work together as effectively as possible, which is crucial since they are partners in efforts to underpin investments for growth and job creation in Europe.
Joint declaration on the occasion of the anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake
President Barroso and European Council President Van Rompuy expressed in a joint declaration their deepest sympathy for the families of those who lost their lives during and in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and their profound admiration for the strength that the people of Japan have shown in the face of adversity.
In the spirit of the EU-Japan "Kizuna" Summit of May last year, the European Union remains committed to building closer ties of friendship with Japan and further strengthening the EU-Japan strategic partnership, the statement reads.
Meeting with Raila Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya
"Kenya is a very important partner for the EU in the stabilization and development of the Horn of Africa region, and I really welcome Kenya's decision to integrate its forces in Somalia into AMISOM and all the efforts that Kenya is making to bring stability to the region", said President Barroso after his meeting with the Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, highlighting that together the European Union and Kenya can "contribute to greater security in Somalia and to restore peace and stability in the region".
Furthermore, President Barroso stressed that "the upcoming elections will be an important benchmark in Kenya's reform and reconciliation path".
The President said that "the EU, through its programmes and support in the agriculture, roads, water, governance and human rights sectors, contributes already to strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable communities in Kenya, in particular those affected by recurrent droughts," and pledged to provide additional support.
Letter to Greek Prime Minister Papademos
In a letter sent to Prime Minister Papademos, President Barroso proposed follow-up actions further to their meeting of 29 February. The actions focus on measures to support jobs and growth in Greece. President Barroso underlines that it is important "to support small businesses and young people; and to remove the bottlenecks in public administration and the financial system that are preventing the structural funds from flowing to where they are needed, holding back growth and job creation". In order to achieve these goals the Commission and the Task Force for Greece will work together with the Greek authorities. By 28 March concrete recommendations will be formulated and deadlines will be set.
Meeting with Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the UN General Assembly
At the meeting with Massir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President Barroso expressed the EU's strong support to the UN. The EU remains a champion of effective multilateralism and the largest financial contributor to the UN system.
The two Presidents also discussed ongoing efforts to put the global economy on track for sustainable growth, and the contribution that the UN could give to this process.
The situation in Syria was also raised. President Barroso underlined that the EU strongly backed ongoing diplomatic efforts to stop the atrocities in Syria and assured that humanitarian concern was at the forefront.
Meeting with Mr Serzh Sargsyan, President of Armenia
President Barroso expressed his full support for Armenia's reform and modernisation agenda, and confirmed the EU's commitment to deepen its engagement with Armenia in the framework of the Eastern Partnership. "Because of this reformist drive our relations are moving forward and making good progress," the President said today in Brussels.
The Commission is ready to launch talks on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, which is part of the Association Agreement that the EU is already negotiating with Armenia. The opening of the DCFTA negotiations also marks a turning point in the trading and economic relationship between the EU and Armenia, providing new opportunities for our citizens and businesses.
The President highlighted that the relationship between the European Union and Armenia is not only about the economy or trade or mobility. It is also about the universal values that both share. According to the President, "Democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law are at the core of the Association Agreement that we are negotiating with Armenia and they are the solid foundations of our present and also our future relations."
President Barroso said that peace and regional stability are also necessary to advance the common goals, and he re-affirmed the urgent need to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Condolences to the President of Poland : tragic rail accident
"I learned about the terrible rail crash which happened last Saturday near Szczekociny in which 16 people were killed and many injured. On behalf of the European Commission and on my own behalf allow me to offer you our sincere condolences and the expression of our deepest sympathy and solidarity with the families of all the victims of the most tragic rail accident in last decades."
Visit to Austria
President Barroso was impressed by the Austrian model to promote youth employment. During his visit to Vienna, on invitation of Chancellor Faymann, both leaders visited a vocational training centre "Jugend am Werk" for young unemployed people. He welcomed Austria's European commitment and leadership on issues like youth employment and the financial transaction tax. During his visit, President Barroso also met with the Federal President Heinz Fischer, the President of the Austrian Parliament, Barbara Prammer, and Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger.
The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance signed
At the signing ceremony President Barroso stated: "Allow me to congratulate the Heads of State or Government who are signing the Treaty. The fact that the contracting Member States agreed to respect the Commission's central role in delivering the agreement's objectives guarantees coherence with the Lisbon Treaty and the Community method. The Commission warmly welcomes the fact that the agreement remains open to all, as well as the Treaty commitment to incorporate its substance into EU primary law within five years at the latest." He continued: The euro is not just a currency of some countries; the euro is the currency of European Union. Through their formal commitment at the Treaty level to increase the discipline and convergence, the Member States are showing that from monetary union we are now progressing towards a true economic union. The President concluded by expressing his belief that "Together with other treaty or legal instruments from the six-pack to the ESM, from the Europe 2020 Strategy for growth and jobs to the structural funds, we will succeed in combining stability and growth. And in doing so we will build a stronger union and better respond to the aspirations of European citizens."
The President at the Tripartite Social Summit
At the press conference following the Tripartite Social Summit, the President said: "The European Social Model and our social market economy are precisely about combining economic openness and dynamism with social fairness. And unemployment is the antithesis of social fairness." He then focused on youth unemployment by stressing that "Our common aim should be to give our young people a perspective. To give them hope. And be clear that we will not tolerate that, in some of our Member States, a generation of young people is condemned to long-term unemployment." He concluded: "Dialogue with the Social Partners is more important than ever at this time. I encourage our Member States to work closely with the Social Partners to take the reforms forward."