European Year of Citizens launch event
President Barroso participated in a public debate in Dublin City Hall that launched the European Year of Citizens. "We have a lot to discuss, 2013 will be another crucial year for Europe," he said.
In his opening address, he made a case for a united Europe as an effective response to the global challenges that can no longer be solved only at national level.
Taking one example topic which resonates strongly in Ireland – the regulation of the financial sector – he said: "A lot has already been done… Now we need to put a banking union in place so that we can finally break the vicious link between bank debt and public debt. In future it should be the banks and their shareholders who pay to clean up the banks, not the taxpayer." And more support for the Euro – the European Union currency – is still needed, especially in terms of coordination of relevant national policies.
"All of this must be accompanied by greater accountability and democratic legitimacy. Those who take decisions at EU level should be accountable at EU level, just as governments and parliaments are at national level."
He commended the Irish people for fighting their way through the economic crisis with remarkable resilience and resolution. "You are demonstrating that with political will and a shared sense of solidarity, reform and social cohesion can go hand in hand," he said.
Before taking several questions from the audience, he encouraged all European citizens to participate in the debate: " I believe constructive criticism does not pose a threat to the European project. But pessimism and indifference do… I want to see a real debate on how the European Union should evolve in the years to come, both in the economic and in the political sense."