Meeting with Mr Samaras, Prime Minister of Greece, in Athens
"The best hope for Greece of a return to growth and job creation is inside the euro area."
After the meeting with Greek Prime Minister Samaras, President Barroso was very clear: "You, in Greece, with our support, need to rebuild your country. Staying in the euro is the best chance to avoid worse hardship and difficulties - Greece can make it. Together, Greece and Europe will make it."
He said that he is aware of the extremely difficult sacrifices many Greek people are currently making. But he encouraged the Greeks to recognise that the other alternatives would be much more difficult for Greece and would affect even more the most vulnerable in Greek society.
He showed himself reassured about the commitment of the coalition government to reform and to respect and implement commitments made. "The key word here is: deliver, deliver, deliver. To maintain the trust of European and international partners, the delays must end. Words are not enough. Actions are much more important," continued the President. He underlined that the European Commission is working hard to assist Greece, for example through the Task Force for Greece.
At a more general level, President Barroso recalled the fundamental decisions taken by the euro area to safeguard stability.
He announced that the Commission is working intensively towards a banking union and that in early September it will make a legislative proposal for a single supervisory mechanism, relying on the ECB as regards the euro area. "Giving to the ECB the ultimate responsibility for supervision of banks in the euro area will decisively contribute to increase confidence and increase financial stability." He concluded by leaving no doubt that "the euro area governments and the EU institutions will do whatever is necessary to secure the financial stability of the euro area".
Joint message of condolences by José Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy on the death of President John Evans Atta Mills of the Republic of Ghana
The two presidents expressed their deepest condolences to H.E. President John Dramani Mahama and the people of Ghana for the sudden passing of President John Evans Atta Mills.
President Atta Mills’ contributions to rule of law, democracy and development in Ghana will be remembered, as they provide a solid basis on which to continue building a future of prosperity, freedom and security for all Ghanaian citizens.
Draft EU budget 2013 - letter to EU leaders
On 24 July President Barroso sent a letter to all EU Heads of State and Government to express his concern about the Council's position on the draft 2013 budget.
In his letter President Barroso warns of serious consequences for economic recovery as these cuts of more than 5 billion euros would "affect regions, researchers or SMEs with the risk that they would then be starved of finance."
President Barroso recalls that the initial Commission's budget proposal took full account of the difficult economic context by freezing new commitments in real terms.
The letter concludes by expressing the President's hope that "all agree that this is not the time to sacrifice pro-growth investment and that the investments co-financed by the EU budget offer real added value."
He finally calls on the Council to "work constructively with the European Parliament and the Commission to agree on the budget that Europe needs."
On 24 July, the Council approved without discussion the position of COREPER of 11 July 2012 to limit the increase in payments in the EU budget 2013 to 2.79%. The Commission, in its initial proposal of 25 April 2012, had proposed an increase in payments by 6.8% to take into account the legal obligations to pay beneficiaries as a result of past commitments already agreed by Member States. The Council's position would result in 5.2 billion euros less than the Commission has asked for in order to take into account real payment needs.
The Council's position would mean a reduction of investment directly linked to growth, competitiveness and cohesion by 3.5 billion euros.
The EU and Angola sign a new cooperation agreement
In a ceremony in Brussels presided by José Manuel Barroso, Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Development and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Planning of Angola signed the "Joint Way Forward Angola-European Union" which is the new cooperation agreement between the EU and Angola.
This agreement aims to raise to a new level the relationship between Angola and the EU, by deepening the political dialogue and bilateral cooperation in areas of common interest, recognising Angola's growing regional and international role and the importance of strengthening the bilateral relationship.
The European Union is the largest donor in Angola and an important economic and political partner. Under the 10th European Development Fund (2008-2013), more than €250 million have been allocated to a multi-year cooperation programme, with Angola and EU exports to Angola having doubled since 2005. The EU is now the largest exporter to Angola and its third largest trading partner overall.
Visit to Mozambique and Tanzania
President Barroso visited yesterday Mozambique to discuss bilateral relations and future cooperation.
Prior to arriving in Maputo, President Barroso said: "I look forward to visiting Mozambique again and to discussing the future of our cooperation. We remain firmly committed to support Mozambique in the process of achieving sustainable development as part of our renewed partnership with Africa."
The President met with President Armando Guebuza and three bilateral agreements, totalling € 37 million, were signed. They aim to boost local economic development, to support civil society groups and to reinforce the rule of law and public accountability.
Mr Barroso had the chance to address the Summit of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries where he reiterated the EU's commitment to assist in the further development and consolidation of this like minded organisation of 8 States, comprising 250 million people.
Tomorrow (21 July), the President will meet the Tanzanian President and senior ministers to reinforce the dialogue and economic cooperation between the EU and Tanzania.
During the visit, six new financing agreements will be signed, worth a total of €126.5 million. This new support will help to rehabilitate more than 200 km of roads or provide access to drinking water for 500,000 people and to improved sanitation infrastructure and services for some 140,000 inhabitants.
The President of the European Commission is accompanied by European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs.
Commission publishes Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) reports on Bulgaria and Romania
The Commission has adopted its progress reports under the cooperation and verification mechanism for Bulgaria and Romania.
The report says that Romania needs to ensure respect for the rule of law and to judicial independence to win back the trust of its partners in the EU. It summarises the Commission's important questions in relation to recent challenges to the rule of law by the Romanian Government and Parliament. It includes a number of urgent recommendations that Romania should take. The report shows progress, but also that reform is not sustainable and irreversible.
Romania has created the basis for a substantial modernisation of the Romanian judicial system. Institutions like the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) and the National Integrity Agency (ANI) have demonstrated a convincing track record in the pursuit of high-level corruption. Recently, court decisions in high-level corruption cases have effectively handled the most sensitive cases, and the judiciary has shown its ability to affirm its independence.
"The Commission has raised serious concerns for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Romania. Prime Minister Ponta has responded to these concerns and agreed to quickly address them. The Commission will monitor the situation to make sure that these commitments are honoured. Urgent and rigorous implementation of the recommendations under the CVM will contribute to ensure a stable, credible and investment-friendly economic environment and to reassure financial markets", said President Barroso.
On Bulgaria's CVM report, the country needs to step-up reforms in order to reach objectives regarding the rule of law.
Progress has been achieved with the adoption of the basic legislative framework and the creation of important new institutions. Since 2007, Bulgaria has put in place legal and constitutional reforms. The Supreme Judicial Council and its inspectorate took up functions and specialised bodies at the level of police and of the prosecution such as the new specialised court and prosecution office for organised crime have been created.
"Convincing results still need to be shown in the fight against high-level corruption and organised crime so that the concerns of Bulgarian citizens and Bulgaria's European partners can be met.", said President Barroso.
Shortcomings in judicial reform and the fight against corruption are serious concerns for a large majority of Romanians and Bulgarians. A Flash Eurobarometer poll conducted by the Commission in May showed that 72% of Romanians and 78% of Bulgarians wanted the Commission to continue supporting reform in their country until it achieves standards comparable to other Member States.
The co-operation and verification mechanism (CVM) was established on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU to help both countries put in place an impartial, independent and effective judicial and administrative system similar to those of other Member States and capable of meeting the obligations of EU membership. This included the capacity to fight corruption and in the case of Bulgaria, the fight against organised crime. Progress is assessed against the commitments made by the two countries which are set out in four benchmarks for Romania and six benchmarks for Bulgaria.
Bulgaria: Technical Report [194 KB]
Romania: Technical Report [236 KB]
Meeting with Atifete Jahjaga, President of Kosovo
During the meeting, the two Presidents addressed the actions that have been undertaken so far to bring Kosovo further on its European path. These actions are among others the launch of the visa liberalisation process for Kosovo and the EULEX's mission to Kosovo.
President Barroso emphasised the need to continue focusing and engaging on the key priorities like the rule of law, integration of minorities and trade. These priorities will be also part of the feasibility study for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo which is being prepared by the Commission and will be ready this autumn.
Meeting with the leaders of the main European political parties
After the meeting, held in the context of on-going consultations with stakeholders, President Barroso and Vice President Šefcovič have reiterated the intention to present an initiative on European political parties and foundations in the coming weeks.
"I highly appreciated the quality of our discussions today. I am confident that thanks to the close cooperation between Commission and the European Parliament we will get these proposals adopted smoothly and inject a healthy additional dose of Europe into party politics ahead of the next European elections," added President Barroso
Meeting with Mr Ponta, Prime Minister of Romania
President Barroso expressed to the Prime Minister his serious concerns about recent political events in Romania in relation to the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the role of the Constitutional Court.
He underlined that the necessary checks and balances in a democratic system must be guaranteed. President Barroso made clear that the Romanian Government must respect the full independence of the judiciary, restore the powers of the Constitutional Court and ensure that its decisions are observed, appoint an Ombudsman enjoying cross-party support, ensure a new open and transparent procedure for appointing a General Prosecutor and Director of the Anti-Corruption Directorate and make integrity a political priority.
President Barroso welcomed the assurances he received from Prime Minister Ponta that the measures falling under the powers of the government will be undertaken immediately and that he will make every effort to seek a similar commitment from the other Romanian institutions. Prime Minister Ponta said that he will convey these commitments in writing urgently. The European Commission will issue its report under the cooperation and verification mechanism on 18 July 2012, where it will take stock of the progress made in Romania over the last five years, including the most recent developments.
Meeting with high-level European religious leaders
"To tackle the economic crisis, we are doing a lot to ensure the right balance between solidarity and responsibility among Member States. But we need to devote at least as much attention to solidarity and responsibility among the young and the old."
"Ultimately, we will only be able to come out of this crisis and lay the foundations of a prosperous future if we keep solidarity between people and generations at the heart of our actions. This is the glue that holds our societies together," continued President Barroso He also very strongly defended the freedom of religion and condemned attacks on religious minorities.
Lack of solidarity and responsibility among young and old can bring a real risk for social peace. The year 2012 has been designated as the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between generations. "I want this year and today's meeting to become an agent for change," said the President.
He recalled numerous initiatives the European Commission has put forward to support and foster intergenerational solidarity. Starting with directives combating discrimination at the work place and on parental leave, through various programmes funded by European structural funds to recent steps targeted on enabling European youth (Action teams, Youth Opportunities Initiative). "Last but not least, our country-specific recommendations, just adopted by the Council, guide Member States through the sometimes painful path of reform for sustainable growth and convergence."
"Today's meeting is a very good occasion to exchange views on these huge challenges and the answers we are providing. Religious communities can make an important contribution to this. Churches and religious communities are well placed to build bridges in our societies," concluded President Barroso.
Meeting with Mr Borissov, Prime Minister of Bulgaria
President Barroso praised the Bulgarian Prime Minister on the progress made on fiscal consolidation as demonstrated by the abrogation of the Excessive Deficit Procedure in June 2012. The President also announced the adoption of the CVM reports for next week.
Prime Minister Borissov updated President Barroso on the recent developments in Bulgaria on judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime. President Barroso informed the Prime Minister that the European Commission is currently finalising its reports on Bulgaria and Romania under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, which the European Commission will adopt on 18 July. President Barroso took note of the recent progress made in Bulgaria and reiterated that the European Commission will treat each country on its own merits and ensure that the reports are fair and objective.
President Barroso also accepted the invitation of the Prime Minister to attend the inauguration of the Sofia metro at the end of August.
Meeting with Ms Mularoni, secretary of State of the Republic of San Marino
President Barroso and Secretary Mularoni held constructive discussions on the future on EU-San Marino relations. Current ties are already very profound, but can be further deepened, notably in core areas of the EU internal market.
The European Commission and the European External Action Service are currently analysing the options for a further integration of three small European states (Andorra, Monaco, San Marino). Their conclusions will be finalized in the coming months.
Visit to Israel and to the occupied Palestinian Territory
During his visit President Barroso made clear that the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict remained a strategic priority for the EU. He expressed the EU's strong commitment to a two-state solution and emphasised that "our support is not just in words but also deeds".
The visit of President Barroso illustrates the importance that the Commission attaches to the relations with these important members of its Southern neighbourhood. It also is an occasion to express the long-standing commitment of the European Union to a negotiated solution for the Middle-East peace process.
In the occupied Palestinian Territory, on 8 July, President Barroso met with both President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. He said: "Through our overall political and financial support we are laying the foundations of a future democratic and viable Palestinian state – its institutions and its infrastructure. And through this we are contributing to a two-state solution." He added that "heeding the aspirations of the Palestinians for statehood is a crucial element for lasting peace, stability and prosperity in the region."He also participated in the inauguration of a police training centre in Jericho.
In Israel, on 9 July, President Barroso met Prime Minister Netanyahu. Both leaders reviewed the state of EU-Israel relations. President Barroso emphasized the close nature of the bilateral relations, both from a political and economic point of view. The particular success of the cooperation on science and research was illustrated with the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation on energy and water. The two leaders also discussed the regional situation with President Barroso stating the EU's support for democratic change and political and economic reforms in the wider neighbourhood. He expressed his deep concern with the deterioration of the situation in Syria and the need for a peaceful political transition, in accordance with the Annan Plan, including an immediate cessation of violence. They also discussed vital threats in the region and exchanged views on the on-going diplomatic process aimed at solving the nuclear issue on Iran.
President Barroso also met with the President of the Knesset Rivlin, visited the memorial Yad Vashem and the Museum of Israel. He then participated in an official dinner hosted by President Peres, where he expressed high personal esteem for the biographic background of President Peres and his leadership.
On 10 July, the President concluded the visit by receiving an honorary doctorate of the University of Haifa where he strongly emphasized the importance of values of freedom, democracy and non-discrimination. He also reiterated his call for resumption of the peace talks and a negotiated two-state solution.
Key facts and figures:
The EU and Israel committed themselves to establishing a partnership which provides for close political and mutually beneficial trade and investment relations together with economic, social, financial, civil scientific, technological and cultural cooperation.
The Action Plan concluded with Israel helps to gradually integrate Israel into European policies and programmes.
The EU is Israel's main trading partner accounting for 30% of overall trade.
Israel is eligible for approximately €14 million in financial assistance in the current programming period.
The EU stands as the largest donor to the Palestinian people, including through UNRWA. From 2000 to the end of 2011, the EU has committed nearly 4 billion Euros in assistance.
Investments have been made also in the Palestinian justice sector (€32 million) and its security sector (€53 million).
Support to the Police Training Centre: The European Commission contributed over 20% of the €15 million cost of this facility andthe European Union’s police and rule of law mission has brought police officers and representatives from the EU's own judicial systems to work alongside and train their Palestinian counterparts.
Financial support under the newly signed agreement for the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to promote the rule of law and democracy: €20 million.
Message from President Barroso to Mr Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation
President Barroso expressed his condolences following the floods in the Krasnodar territories in Russia where many people lost their lives.
"On behalf of the European Commission and on my own behalf, allow me to offer you and the population of the Russian Federation our sincere condolences and the expression of our deepest sympathy and solidarity with the families of the victims."
Statement by the European Commission on Romania
The Commission is concerned about current developments in Romania, especially regarding actions that appear to reduce the effective powers of independent institutions like the Constitutional Court.
The rule of law, the democratic checks and balances and the independence of the judiciary are cornerstones of the European democracy and indispensable for mutual trust within the European Union. Government policy and political action must respect these principles and values.
The Commission already looks at judicial reform and anti-corruption measures in the context of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. It is currently finalising a report summarising five years of work to address these issues in Romania. Recent developments may be putting at risk the progress made over the years.
The President of the European Commission spoke today with the Prime Minister of Romania and expressed the Commission’s concerns. Prime Minister Ponta will come to Brussels next Thursday to meet President Barroso to discuss these issues. In the meantime the Commission analysis of the situation will continue and other contacts between the Commission and the Romanian authorities will be pursued.
Cypriot Presidency of the Council – College of Commissioners' visit to Cyprus
"The centrepiece of the Presidency will be to make progress on the Commission's proposals for a banking union" said President Barroso in Nicosia, expressing his appreciation for the intensive preparatory work and President Christofias's commitment to the European project.
"The Cypriot government will rise to the challenges facing the EU as a strong and ambitious Presidency of the Council, delivering a strong and ambitious European agenda", said President Barroso. He outlined a series of other issues on which quick progress should be made.
He expressed the determination of the European Commission and of the incoming Presidency to continue the efforts to strengthen the economic and budgetary surveillance. He also called on the Parliament and the Presidency to come swiftly to a final agreement on the so-called "two pack".
On the issue of the Financial Transaction Tax, President Barroso said: "In the absence of unanimity in the Council we have to pursue this very important project through the enhanced cooperation procedure and I expect the negotiations will start shortly under the Cypriot Presidency."
Another big challenge for the Presidency will be the negotiations on the Multi-annual Financial Framework – the EU budget for the next seven years: "It should be the primary instrument for implementing our Europe 2020 strategy, a strategy for sustainable and inclusive growth, agreed by all the member states", President Barroso said.
Finally, the President said that he counted on the Presidency's support in putting forward proposals under a new Single Market Act 2 and on its work "without delay" on the adoption of all the Single Market Act 1 legislation currently on the table.
Debate in the European Parliament on the Cyprus Presidency of the Council
"I have a lot of confidence in the readiness of Cyprus to take on this great responsibility," said President Barroso, expressing appreciation for the intensive preparatory work and President Christofias's commitment to the European project and the Community method.
"The Commission shares the objectives of the Presidency aimed at a stronger, more competitive Europe, based on sustainable growth, solidarity and social inclusion," continued the President. He called on Cyprus to focus on issues where results can be achieved by the end of 2012. He outlined in particular three main areas:
He called on leaders and Member States to do the utmost to reach agreement on the Multiannual Financial Framework by the end of this year. "I know that it is extremely challenging but it is possible. This would send a clear signal that when it comes to growth we are committed to action, not limited to rhetoric," said President Barroso.
He also argued for fast-tracking of proposals around the Single Market, both those that are already on the table and the new Single Market Act 2 that the Commission will put forward soon. Finally, the President said that "intensive work will continue to ensuring stability of the Euro area and establishing a genuine Economic and Monetary Union." There is much to be done both on proposals already made (such as a bank resolution or deposit guarantee schemes) and on proposals the Commission will swiftly put forward concerning the first steps towards establishing a "banking union".
Conclusion of Danish Presidency of the Council of the EU
"The Danish Presidency was a bridge over troubled waters in these challenging times. It was also a compass to help steer Europe out of the crisis and build new foundations for future growth and jobs."
With these words, President Barroso praised the results of the Danish Presidency of the EU Council in a debate at the European Parliament. He mentioned in particular the conclusion of the second European Semester of economic policy coordination, as well as agreements on key proposals to enhance growth and stability in Europe and the energy efficiency directive.
In this context he commended the traditional commitment of Denmark to green growth. While underlining some areas where he would have liked to see more progress or ambition (Schengen, future budget, energy efficiency), he also expressed satisfaction about agreements on new laws on financial markets and financial services regulation, including the intention to move ahead with enhanced cooperation on a Financial Transaction Tax.
He also noted positively the entry into force of the new roaming rules that will truly benefit European citizens and consumers. He concluded by thanking Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt for the very good cooperation.
The European Forum of the Outermost Regions
'Of course each of these regions, however remote it may be, is still an integral part of the European Union and contributes hugely to the dynamism, prosperity and influence of our Union.'
The European Forum of the Outermost Regions, first held in 2010, met for the second time in Brussels on 2 July 2012.
"Our common aim for this Forum is to discuss concrete solutions to the specific challenges faced by these regions and that together, in active and constructive partnership, we will succeed in finding the best ways to fulfil the potential of their considerable assets’, declared President Barroso.
The partnership is currently based on five main pillars:
- improving accessibility,
- increasing competitiveness,
- strengthening regional integration,
- supporting the social dimension of development,
- adapting to climate change, which has a particular impact on these territories.
This aim and these pillars are fully taken into consideration in the Communication adopted by the European Commission on 20 June of last year. Link to the Communication below.
Congratulations to Mr Grímsson, President of the Republic of Iceland
President Barroso warmly congratulated Mr Grímsson on his re-election, and expressed his confidence that under Mr Grímsson's leadership the already close co-operation between the European Union and Iceland will become even deeper over the coming years.
"We look forward to continuing our co-operation with you and your fellow citizens at all levels of society. I would like to assure you of the strong commitment of the European Commission to further pursue the privileged relationship between the EU and Iceland, including our continued readiness to fully assist Iceland in pursuing EU membership," said President Barroso in his message.