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Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU and 40th anniversary of the EU membership

Today, Ireland begins its seventh Council presidency. This year also marks the 40th anniversary since Ireland, Denmark and the United Kingdom joined the EU.

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This year marks an important anniversary for Ireland, as it celebrates 40 years as an EU member state. Ireland has undergone a radical transformation since 1973, developing into a modern, open economy driven by hi-tech industry and global exports. In the last 40 years, peace has returned to Northern Ireland, Irish has become the 23rd official language of the EU and the country has joined the single currency.

This year also marks 40 years since Denmark and the United Kingdom joined the European Union. I believe both countries have benefited greatly from EU membership.

As an engaged, innovative, creative and efficient country, Denmark has shown that the EU social model and competitiveness can go hand in hand. Denmark is a country that is open to the world and has a strong commitment to the European values of equality, democracy and social justice. Throughout these four decades, and particularly during the Danish presidency in 2012, Denmark has demonstrated great community spirit.

The Union we have today has been significantly shaped by the contribution of successful UK governments. The UK has been, and continues to be, a driving force behind the single market, which allows 500 million people to travel, live and do business across 27 member states. I believe that Europe with the UK at its heart is more reform-driven, more open and more international. I recognise that it has not always been an easy relationship, and that it has been bumpy at times, but acting through the European Union, the UK has a much stronger role in the world.

Irish Presidency website

30th EU-Russia summit

The leaders exchanged views on the political and economic situation in the EU and in Russia. A wide range of bilateral matters were also discussed, including trade, energy and visa-free travel.

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At the beginning of the press conference following the summit, President Barroso said that Russia and the European Union are making good progress in a number of areas of common interest.

The new EU-Russia Agreement that is currently being negotiated should cover all the relevant areas of EU-Russia partnership, including trade, investment and of course energy. "I am convinced that we can achieve a balanced and ambitious agreement that will be beneficial for both Russia and for the European Union" said the President.

He also expressed his satisfaction over good results of the EU-Russia Partnership for Modernisation and progress made on visa facilitation, an important step on the way to reach a visa-free regime between Russia and the EU.

The trade and economic ties between EU and Russia are very strong. The European Union is Russia’s number one trading partner with bilateral trade amounting to €308 billion in 2011. "We are convinced that by upholding WTO rules and commitments and by embracing open trade, Russia will increase trade volumes and become even more competitive and prosperous," said President Barroso.

The leaders also discussed areas beyond the traditional areas of cooperation. President Barroso announced that 2014 will be "EU-Russia Year of Science, Technology and Innovation." The purpose of the year-long series of events, to be jointly organised across the EU and Russia, is to enhance the already vibrant science & technology cooperation between the EU, its member states and the Russian Federation.

More on EU – Russia relations

Read extracts from the President's speech

Watch video

Message of congratulations to Ms Park Geun-hye, elected President of the Republic of Korea

In a joint statement, Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy congratulated Ms Park on her election and stressed that the partnership between the EU and the Republic of Korea based on shared values and common goals can make a real difference in addressing global challenges.

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"… As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic relations, we look forward to continue working with you to further expand our cooperation, including in the economic field, and promote peace, security and respect for human rights. We would welcome the opportunity to meet you to develop further our mutual priorities and the next stage in our relations."

Read the Joint Statement

Read more on the EU – the Republic of Korea relations

First beneficiaries of the "EU Children of Peace" initiative announced

ACTED in Northern Iraq with Syrian refugee children; UNHCR in Colombia and Ecuador; Save the Children UK and the Norwegian Refugee Council in Congo and Ethiopia and UNICEF in Pakistan will work to provide access to basic education and child-friendly spaces for over 23,000 children.

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On 10 December, the EU was awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for over six decades' contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe. The European Commission has formally accepted the prize money on behalf of the European Union and decided to top up the approximate €930,000 to €2 million. The "EU Children of Peace" initiative will support projects for children exposed to the ravages of war and conflicts.

The attribution of the award money to children affected by conflict was a unanimous decision of the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Parliament Martin Schulz and of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy.

President Barroso said: “It was obvious for us that the Nobel Peace Prize money should be allocated to the most vulnerable who are often the hardest hit by wars: the children of this world. We want all children to enjoy the constant protection of their rights. Promoting education is also giving peace a chance to be a lasting peace.We want "children of war" to become "children of peace."

He congratulated the first beneficiaries and stressed that it is not a "one-off" initiative: "The Nobel Peace Prize entails a lasting responsibility, and we will therefore continue to fund "Children of Peace" projects every year."

Read the press release on the announcement of the beneficiaries

Watch video

Read more on the EU Children of Peace dedicated website

Read the President's speech

Sustainable development: The European Commission's New Year's resolutions

Opening the Brussels Sustainable Development Summit, President Barroso said that the Commission will present its views on this combined Sustainable and Millennium Development Goals agenda early next year - "a very practical new year's resolution, if you will!"

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The summit is the first in a planned series of high-level international conferences to build action plans for global sustainable development. President Barroso said that European Union can be satisfied with what has been achieved during 2012 adding that "the EU will play a leading role in the relevant United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Working Group."

He stressed that the European Union is backing up its commitment with significant funding, "we have earmarked almost 2 billion euros for projects related to the Rio outcome for this year and 2013."

But work along the Rio+20 is only part of the picture. The European Union invests a total amount of around 8 billion euros for sustainable development in general.

President Barroso said that EU will work towards the sustainable development goals " across all policy areas; both inside the European Union and on the global stage."

"Of course the extent of our support depends on the financial resources which we have available," he emphasised, referring to an ambitious increase of nearly 20% in the EU's external assistance for the next financial period as proposed by the Commission that will be discussed, together with the EU Multiannual budget 2014-20 as a whole, at the beginning of the next year.

"Sustainable development and justice are twin-principles, which our European Union should continue to bring to the table of the global community," concluded the President.

Watch video

Europeaid – European Commission department for Development and Cooperation

Joint statement by Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy on the parliamentary elections in Japan

"On behalf of the European Union please accept our congratulations on your success on the occasion of the recent parliamentary elections…

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Japanese flag

We look forward to further strengthening relations between Japan and the European Union, in particular to the opening of negotiations on a deep and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement and Framework Agreement between the European Union and Japan; as well as to intensifying our cooperation on shared challenges, and returning the global economy to sustainable growth.

Above all, we wish to affirm our continued friendship and solidarity with the people and government of Japan."

Statement by President Barroso on the tragic events in Connecticut (USA)

"It is with deep shock and horror that I learned this evening of the tragic fatalities in the shooting in Connecticut (USA). Young lives full of hope have been destroyed...

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On behalf of the European Commission and on my own behalf, I want to express my sincere condolences to the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy."

Statement from President Barroso on the official results of the Romanian elections of 9th December 2012

President Barroso congratulates Victor Ponta for his electoral victory and that of the USL coalition. The Romanian people have made a clear choice in a democratic way.

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"President Barroso looks forward to working with Prime Minister Victor Ponta and President Basescu, during the coming challenging years, to promote the necessary reforms in Romania's and Europe's interest.

President Barroso welcomes the commitment by all Romania's political actors to consolidating the rule of law and respecting democratic checks and balances."

European Council: A good week for Europe

The commentators that predicted the dismantling of the euro have been shown to be totally wrong, said President Barroso. "This week was indeed a good week for Europe," he added, mentioning the Nobel Peace Prize and the very important agreements on the Single Supervisory Mechanism and on Greece.

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He also underlined the good discussion on the future of the Economic and Monetary Union that Heads of State and Government had last night. "The Commission will keep driving the ambition," he promised.

"I am really confident that we are going to overcome the difficulties," said President Barroso, wishing a Happy Christmas to all.

 

President Barroso welcomed the endorsement of the agreement on the Single Supervisory Mechanism. "The next steps should be a swift conclusion on the bank capital rules and the harmonisation of bank resolution…The Commission will make a proposal for a single resolution mechanism in 2013."

"The agreement on the Single Supervisory Mechanism is extremely important because it shows the EU and the euro area mean business. It also shows that we can move forward at 27 within the Treaty framework," said President Barroso. He emphasized that it is critically important that the Mechanism is designed to meet euro area needs but at the same time that it stays open to all.

He stressed that the agreement on the Single Supervisory Mechanism is the key to all further steps in the construction of the Banking Union. "We will not tolerate poor supervision for any of the 6000 banks in the euro area."

The Commission will present a proposal for the next key step – a single resolution mechanism – in 2013. "This will mean that taxpayers will not have to pick up the bill in the future and that the sector will pay to solve its own problems," said the President.

President Barroso welcomed the broad agreement at the European Council on the need for the quick adoption of the "two pack" legislation and called for quick agreement by the European Parliament that would allow the proposals to be adopted.

The Heads of State and Government had a very open discussion on the medium and long term elements proposed in order to deepen the Economic and Monetary Union. They will come back to this discussion at the June European Council, for which they asked the President of the European Council, in cooperation with the President of the European Commission, to come forward with more concrete ideas and a time-bound roadmap.

"This year has been extremely tough, especially for the most vulnerable in our societies. But in fact, we are tackling the root causes of the trouble: Public finances are getting better. The competitiveness of the least competitive is improving. The financial sector is being cleaned up. Our governance architecture is making progress. So while we are not complacent, there are reasons to be positive and I think that investors and our partners are recognising that," concluded the President.

Read the entire speech of the President (Day 1)

Watch the video (Day 1)

Read the entire speech of the President (Day 2)

Watch the video (day 2)

December European Council conclusions on completing Economic and Monetary Union

Read more about the Commission proposal for the Single Supervisory Mechanism from 12 September

Questions and Answers on the Commission proposal

Vice-President Rehn on the Eurogroup decision on Greece

President Barroso at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony

Speech on the outcome of the European Council in the European Parliament on 17 December

Meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mr Monti ahead of the European Council

President Barroso welcomed the agreement on the Single Supervisory Mechanism as a flagship of the banking union. He also praised the Italian government's reform efforts and the resulting credibility.

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"The agreement on the Single Supervisory Mechanism – the flagship of our banking union… shows once again that we mean business and are able to find Treaty-based solutions at 27 that are fair and equitable. This is key to restoring confidence. I am most grateful for Italy's constructive role in reaching this deal." said President Barroso

He also said that both him and Prime Minister Monti agree that there is yet need to go further to restore confidence and anchor stability as well as to maintain a medium-term and long-term perspective as set out in the Commission Blueprint. "We expect this European Council to give a clear signal in this sense even though we will not be able to solve all open issues today and tomorrow," stressed President Barroso

The two leaders also exchanged views on the situation in Italy. President Barroso praised Prime Minister Monti and his government for Italy's ambitious reform agenda including significant measures to bring down Italy's excessive deficit and to tackle high government debt.

He said that considerable progress has been made to improve the country's competitiveness and growth potential and expressed his hope and confidence that Italy will continue on this path. "The 2013 elections can neither constitute a break nor an excuse for slowing down the reform and consolidation agenda," said President Barroso.

Watch the video

Welcoming the Council agreement on the Single Supervisory Mechanism

"On behalf of the European Commission, I warmly welcome this exceptionally important agreement on the Single Supervisory Mechanism reached by the Council," said President Barroso in a written statement on Thursday morning.

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"Based on the proposal tabled by the Commission on 12 September, this is a crucial and very substantive step towards completion of the banking union and a timely step forward in the integration of financial supervision for the euro area and for the other Member States which the Commission hopes will also participate.

We now hope that the co-legislators are able to finalize the agreement on the Single Supervisory Mechanism as quickly as possible. I want to underline that in four months we have moved from a Commission proposal to political agreement by the Council, which demonstrates once again that the European Union has the political will and capacity to act quickly on momentous issues."

President Barroso's message of condolences on the passing away of Ravi Shankar

I was moved and saddened to learn the news of the passing away of Ravi Shankar. I send my sincere condolences to his family and to the people of India," said President Barroso in his message.

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"I want to pay tribute to Ravi Shankar's unique gift and talent as a musician and a composer, allowing people all over the world to experience India's rich musical universe. In an age before the term

multi-culturalism was widely used, Ravi Shankar crossed genres and continents in his collaborations, building musical bridges that took us on the most unexpected journeys. Ravi Shankar was a true Ambassador of India's culture and heritage. His work will continue to inspire future generations."

No room for complacency at upcoming European Council

In a speech at the European Parliament on Wednesday, President Barroso urged focus ahead of this week's European Council meeting. He stressed that the situation in the euro area has improved but remains fragile.

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"Rapid political agreement on the single supervisory mechanism and its endorsement at this European Council is crucially important. The single supervisory mechanism is the single most important step for the further deepening and completion of Economic and Monetary Union," he said in his speech.

He also pleaded against a loss of the overall perspective that lends credibility and purpose to the urgent action to define a roadmap towards a future deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union.

The Blueprint presented by the Commission identifies the most pressing tasks and maps out the work for the weeks, months and years ahead.

President Barroso reiterated the main guiding principles on which a genuine Economic and Monetary Union should be built as set out in the Blueprint:

- it must take place within the institutional and legal framework of the Treaties on the basis of the Community method.

-it must make sure that discipline and responsibility go hand in hand with solidarity and convergence.

- while recognising that the EMU in general and the Euro area in particular must integrate quicker and more decisively than the EU at large, it must maintain the integrity of the European Union and its policies conducted at 27, notably the Single Market. It must remain open to the participation of other member states, wherever appropriate.

Lastly, creating a deep and genuine EMU will require commensurate steps towards a political union: "This is why the blueprint has chosen the transparent approach and commitment to present explicit ideas for Treaty changes in advance of the next European Parliament elections, so as to enable the necessary broad public debate and the decisions building on it."

President Barroso stressed that above all, for reforms to work, they need to be fair. He recalled two very recent Commission proposals that show that the Commission sees social justice and fairness as a key element of today's policy priorities: the Action Plan against tax fraud and tax evasion and the Youth employment package.

Watch video

Read the entire speech

"Regulatory fitness": making the best of EU law in difficult times

In a move to make it easier and cheaper for enterprises to do business and for citizens to enjoy the benefits of the Single Market, the Commission has presented a major package of measures to strengthen and improve the European regulatory framework and ensure the EU's "regulatory fitness".

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It includes a new programme to cut any unnecessary regulatory costs at EU and national level. It also sharpens the tools that allow EU legislation to keep fit - impact assessments, evaluations, public consultations. The aim of the package is to help the EU to grow and compete in difficult times.

President Barroso said: "If Europe is to grow, create jobs and compete internationally, EU legislation must be fit for purpose. This is why we have put smart regulation at the heart of our policy-making. Today, we are stepping up our efforts by launching a new and comprehensive Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme. We will look at the existing stock of legislation and systematically target all that is not absolutely necessary to achieve sustainable growth, jobs and competitiveness efficiently."

The package includes a Communication on "Regulatory Fitness" and two Staff Working Documents: on Public Consultations and on Administrative Burden Reduction , whose Action programme in the medium-term is expected to lead to an increase of 1.4% in EU GDP, equivalent to € 150 billion.

A consultation with small businesses is under way on the most burdensome pieces of legislation. SMEs can still participate in the consultation until 21 December 2012.

Press release on the new package

Questions and answers on smart regulation

Commission website on smart regulation

Debate with Erasmus students on Nobel Peace Prize and future of Europe

On Tuesday, President Barroso took part in a debate with Erasmus students from all across Europe. The debate was on four issues: the Nobel Peace Prize for the EU, the current economic situation, youth and the future of Europe.

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President Barroso talking with Erasmus students at Oslo University © EU

32 students currently on their Erasmus exchange participated in the debate. They represented all 27 EU countries and five other countries participating in the Erasmus framework: Switzerland, Croatia, Iceland, Norway and Turkey.

One of the first questions was on whether the EU deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. President Barroso answered that while humbled and honored at the same time, he believes the EU deserves the prize as "the European Union is the most successful project ever of transnational cooperation. Never in the history of mankind did we have 27 countries that decided freely to share sovereignty, to put their capacities together around the values of peace, freedom and democracy."

On the current economic crisis, students voiced their concerns over social unrest driven by the crisis and the rise of extremist and populist forces in some of the European countries. President Barroso responded that while the EU was not the cause of this crisis, it plays a vital role in finding solutions, for example by endorsing deeper Economic and Monetary Union and European banking supervision.

The students were naturally interested in future of the Erasmus programme and ways to fight high levels of youth unemployment. President Barroso could share good news that an agreement has been reached for additional funding needed for 2013 and assured the students that the programme has a firm place in the EU's long term budget. In fact, the proposal of the Commission is to extend Erasmus, both for university students and other young people such as entrepreneurs. He reiterated that the Commission is very concerned with high levels of youth unemployment and is taking numerous steps to combat it, for example the Youth Employment package adopted by the Commission just last week.

The debate concluded with several questions on the future of Europe including, for example, enlargement and European political integration.

Watch extracts from the debate (10 minutes)

Watch video of the whole debate (50 minutes)

Presidents Barroso and Schulz meet the Norwegian PM

President of the European Commission together with President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz met on Tuesday morning with Norwegian Prime Minister Mr Stoltenberg. They exchanged views on the economy, energy security and the fight against climate change.

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PM Stoltenberg and President Barroso © EU

"This morning we discussed Europe openly, as we always do with Norway, because Norway is a very close friend. It is a member of the European family of nations," said President Barroso after the meeting.

He recalled the natural connection between the EU and Norway, not only in trade, as 80% of Norwegian exports go to the EU, but also for example in terms of energy and other areas.

On the economy, President Barroso and President Schulz gave the Prime Minister their assessment of the situation in Europe, including the difficulties that still exist, namely the negative social impact hat is a major concern at the moment.

The President also praised Norway for once again effective partnership in fighting for an ambitious deal at the Doha climate change conference.

2012 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech: you can count on Europe

In a speech jointly delivered by Commission President Barroso and European Council President Van Rompuy, President Barroso said "My message today is: You can count on our efforts to fight for lasting peace, freedom and justice in Europe and in the world."

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Presidents Van Romuy, Barroso and Schulz © EU

President Barroso opened his part of the acceptance speech by recalling powerful memories of milestones in Europe's reunification into peace: of being in the mass of people in 1974 in Portugal, thronging the streets to celebrate the democratic revolution and freedom; being in Berlin in 1989 when Rostropovich played Bach at the fallen Berlin Wall. "Several generations of Europeans have shown again and again that their choice for Europe was also a choice for freedom," he said.

But the struggle for peace doesn't stop there. President Barroso quoted Baruch Spinoza "Peace is not mere absence of war, it is a virtue."

Within Europe, this means continuing a remarkable European journey which is leading to an 'ever closer Union', including one of the most visible symbols of unity which is in everyone's hands - the Euro, the currency of our European Union. "We will stand by it," said President Barroso.

"The uniqueness of the European project is to have combined the legitimacy of democratic states with the legitimacy of supranational institutions," he continued. The quest for European unity is not a perfect work of art; it is still work in progress that demands constant and diligent tending. Nevertheless "the European Union can be, and indeed is, a powerful inspiration for many around the world".

Outside Europe, this means continuing to pursue the twin principles global solidarity and global responsibility. "As a community of nations that has overcome war and fought totalitarianism, we will always stand by those who are in pursuit of peace and human dignity," said President Barroso.

He stressed the moral duty of the international community to address the current situation in Syria and paid tribute to human rights' defenders all over the world who put their lives at risk to defend the values that Europe cherishes. "No prison wall can silence their voice. We hear them in this room today," he said.

"My message today is: you can count on our efforts to fight for lasting peace, freedom and justice in Europe and in the world," concluded President Barroso.

Read the entire joint speech

Watch the speech (part 1 – President Van Rompuy)

Watch the speech (part 2 – President Barroso)

Extracts from the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony

Read President Barroso's remarks at the press conference on Sunday 9 December

Watch video from the press conference

Inter-institutional website on the Nobel Peace Prize

Information for the press

Wrap-up VIDEO: 2012 Nobel Peace Prize events (extracts from arrival, ceremony, speech and side events)

Over the next sixty years, Europe must lead the global quest for peace

President Barroso is in Oslo today to collect the Nobel Peace Prize, alongside President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and European Parliament President Martin Schulz. "Being here to jointly receive this award on behalf of the EU is an honour and a humbling experience."

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© EU

This is an award for the European project – for the people and the institutions - that day after day, for the last sixty years, have built a new Europe.

It is a good moment to remind ourselves of what the European Union has done:

 

I know that some of us asked why now? Well, Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, summed it up perfectly on the day of the announcement [and again just now – and I wish to thank him warmly for his words]. "This is the right moment to give a clear message to Europe to preserve what we have achieved… This is a prize to have a better organised world to have stability and peace".

We will honour this prize and we will preserve what has been achieved. It is in the common interest of our citizens. And it will allow Europe to contribute in shaping that "better organised world" in line with the values of freedom, democracy, human rights and rule of law that we cherish and believe in.

The last sixty years have shown that Europe can unite in peace. Over the next sixty years, Europe must lead the global quest for peace."

Watch video from the press conference

 

On Monday 10 December at 13.00, the European Union will receive the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for its contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.

Like all winners, the EU will receive the prize from the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which had announced its award decision on 12 October. The EU will be represented by the three Presidents - José Manuel Barroso of the Commission, Herman Van Rompuy of the European Council, and Martin Schulz of the European Parliament.

The traditional Nobel lecture, on behalf of the EU, will be given by Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy. Four young Europeans, winners of the online contest organised by the EU, will be joining the EU delegation in Oslo to collect the prize.

The ceremony will be broadcast live on this website and on Europe by Satellite.

For more information, including full programme of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize celebrations, please see the online press pack and the inter-institutional website on the Nobel Peace Prize.

Full background information on the EU's award

Statement by President Barroso following the announcement on 12 October

Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony

On Monday 10 December at 13.00, the European Union will receive the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for its contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.

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© EU

Like all winners, the EU will receive the prize from the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which had announced its award decision on 12 October. The EU will be represented by the three Presidents - José Manuel Barroso of the Commission, Herman Van Rompuy of the European Council, and Martin Schulz of the European Parliament.

The traditional Nobel lecture, on behalf of the EU, will be given by Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy. Four young Europeans, winners of the online contest organised by the EU, will be joining the EU delegation in Oslo to collect the prize.

The ceremony will be broadcast live on this website and on Europe by Satellite.

For more information, including full programme of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize celebrations, please see the online press pack and the inter-institutional website on the Nobel Peace Prize.

Full background information on the EU's award

Statement by President Barroso following the announcement on 12 October

Combating poverty and social exclusion: the Commission's approach

The financial crisis has become a crisis of confidence with a profound impact in the European economy, society and citizens. Speaking yesterday at the Convention of the European Platform against Poverty & Social Exclusion, in Brussels, President Barroso stressed that breaking out of this cycle requires fiscal consolidation, deep reforms and targeted investment, but without forgetting social inclusion.

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"Across Europe, for the first time in half a century, many of our citizens look at the future not with the expectation of a better life but with uncertainty and even fear", the President said. "Over 1 in 5 Europeans live under the threat of poverty, including more than 25 million children".

"The root cause of the current situation is economic and we will not be able to face the social challenge unless we also overcome the economic challenge. We must get the fundaments right and work towards growth, growth that should be sustainable and inclusive, that is necessary for the development of our social model", Barroso said.

Last week the Commission adopted its Annual Growth Survey (AGS), which makes as a priority tackling unemployment and the social consequences of the crisis. The AGS puts an emphasis on the need to protect the most vulnerable and outlines the measures to prepare for a job-rich recovery, to improve employability levels and to promote social inclusion.

In the context of the current financial negotiations, the Commission continues to make the case for more instruments for sustainable, inclusive growth and job creation, for instance, for more support to the Globalisation Adjustment Fund and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived, two instruments specifically designed to foster social inclusion.

"We need to ensure that Europe has the instruments that it needs in the future to ensure that growth is not just sustainable but is truly inclusive, to show that indeed the social market economy, our European social model is not dead", the President concluded.

Read the President's speech

More on combatting poverty and social inclusion

Watch the video

European Single Market and budget as drivers for growth

Invited to speak at the annual congress of VOKA, the Flemish Chambers of Commerce and Industry, President Barroso explained the steps the European Commission has taken in response to the crisis including - most recently – the Blueprint for a deep and genuine economic and monetary union.

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Framing the current debate about the European multiannual budget, he emphasised crucial stakes for small and medium enterprises such as support for research and innovation and access to finance in general.

"Finalising the single market is also a way to create further opportunities," said President Barroso, recalling the Single Market Act II adopted by the Commission recently which sets out twelve new key actions for growth in the internal market. He encouraged entrepreneurs to exploit the potential of trade within the EU and Free Trade Agreements between the EU and various countries.

Speech: "Time for extra growth"

European Union and Moldova: a journey to share

At the beginning of his visit of Moldova President Barroso praised Moldova for choosing a courageous path: that of political association and economic integration with the European Union.

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Vladimir Filat, Moldova Prime Minister, on the right, and Jose Manuel Barroso (c) EU

The EU is currently in the process of negotiating an Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. President Barroso expressed his appreciation for very good progress achieved in Association Agreement talks and reiterated that the goal is to complete the negotiations in time for the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius at the end of next year.

The President talked about what the Association Agreement process means: "It means fundamentally to share the same values. This process will bring us closer to each other than declarations will ever be able to do. You are well aware that the values on which the EU is built – freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law – lie precisely at the heart of the political association and economic integration process which the Eastern Partnership offers and which we are pursuing with Moldova."

"In this spirit, let me assure you that the European Union continues and will continue standing by your side, by the people of Moldova, to move ahead with your ambitious reform plans. If you keep the speed and if you intensify the depth of the reforms I am convinced that your European choice will come to fruition. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavour!" concluded President Barroso.

Watch video from the visit

EU contest "Peace, Europe, Future": four young Europeans to attend official Nobel Peace Prize ceremony

Four young Europeans, Ana from Spain, Elena from Italy, Ilona from Poland and Larkin from Malta, will join EU leaders in Oslo for the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. They won the drawing and writing contest organised by the EU institutions, in partnership with the European Youth Forum, on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace prize to the EU.

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"Peace, Europe, Future: What does Peace in Europe mean to you?" This was the question put to young people from the EU and acceding or candidate countries aged between 8 and 24.

The contest attracted close to 5 400 applications, from 33 countries: 1 173 drawings for the age group 8-12, 1 870 texts for the age group 13-17 and 2 354 texts for the age group 18-24.

The four winners are invited by the Presidents of the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament to be part of the official delegation of the European Union that is travelling to Oslo to receive this year's Peace Prize. They will attend the official ceremony on 10 December as well as the Nobel Peace Prize concert on 11 December.

Follow the event on facebook

Follow the event on twitter

The European Youth Forum website

The Nobel Peace prize website

EU and Armenia: promoting common values and forging stronger ties

"The European Union has a stake in Armenia's future and we are ready to work together with you in fulfilling the aspirations of all Armenian citizens", President Barroso said following his meeting with Mr Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Republic of Armenia. During his visit, President Barroso also met with Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, and held meetings with political leaders, parliamentarians and civil society.

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General view of the meeting (c) EC

The EU is currently in the process of negotiating an Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. President Barroso expressed his appreciation for very good progress achieved in Association Agreement talks and reiterated that the goal is to complete the negotiations in time for the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius at the end of next year.

On the Visa Facilitation Agreement and the Readmission Agreement the President said: "After constructive – and should I say – quick negotiations we will be able to sign the Visa Facilitation Agreement still this month, on 17 December, followed, at a later date, by the signature of the Readmission Agreement. Our long term goal is clear and we will work for it: we want visa free travel".

Finally, President Barroso congratulated the Armenian President on the "good conduct" of the Parliamentary elections in May 2012. He also insisted on the fact that the next elections should be "impeccable in terms of fairness and respect of international standards".

Read the statement following the meeting with the President of Armenia

Watch video from the meeting

Read the speech at the National Manuscript Museum

Watch video from the visit