Fairness must be at the heart of European actions
At a Friends of Europe debate, President Barroso elaborated on the importance of fairness, solidarity and responsibility in the contexts of combating the crisis, the next multiannual budget, the Financial Transaction Tax and European integration in general.
In his opening remarks, President Barroso reiterated that the answer to the crisis at a European level is to generate sustainable growth. This should be done by combining sound public finances, deep structural reforms for competitiveness and targeted investments. He admitted that the balance between the three has always been a challenge, but emphasised that fairness and solidarity must be kept at the heart of the EU's actions, since they are the glue that holds its societies and Union together.
Fairness will be even more important as Europe strives for more integration initiated by the economic crisis. It is shown in all the recent steps taken, from the so called six pack of legislation, to the creation of more mechanisms of control and shared responsibility.
It is why the Commission has pushed for the introduction of the Financial Transaction Tax to ensure that the financial sector also makes a contribution and returns the offer of solidarity by showing greater responsibility. "I believe now we are going to have the number of countries needed, apparently 11 are already committing. I have not yet received the letters of these 11 countries but I hope to receive them in the next days so that we can go ahead," said the President.
Fairness is also why the Commission is calling for a coherent approach to the proposed Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-20. "It is very difficult to understand how some are saying all the time that we need more growth, that we need more investment, but when it comes to vote on the budget that is precisely for that, for investment and growth, they change their attitude and in fact they are proposing substantive, very substantial reduction of the very realistic proposal that the Commission put on the table", said the President. These include initiatives such as the Globalisation Adjustment Fund for those who are most hit by the crisis, or support for the poorest and most deprived persons.
Finally, the President made a strong call to the member states to enable Europe to do more in terms of solidarity: "It is interesting to note that governments have been much more open to give the European institutions more powers in terms of discipline and control than to give the European institutions instruments for effective solidarity. And this is a very important point because afterwards people should not be surprised that the image of Europe is not getting better, because if Europe appears systematically as the enforcer, the controller, the great artisan of discipline, if Europe does not have some credible instruments of social cohesion, of course people will tend to blame Europe for the current difficulties even if we know that the current crisis was not created by Europe, nor by the euro."