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Speeches and statements

President Barroso - Prime Minister Monti: joint declaration after the meeting

Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti met on Wednesday to discuss preparation of the upcoming European Council, which will be devoted to the coordination of economic, fiscal and employment policies in the EU to boost growth and job creation, based on the Commission's Annual Growth Survey published on 28 November 2012.

28/02/2013

President Barroso and PM Monti

They discussed the Commission’s work in progress, following the December European Council, on contractual arrangements to raise competitiveness through structural reforms, which includes solidarity mechanisms to help member states.
 
Both are convinced that continued and determined action at European and national levels is needed to ensure that the return of confidence in the euro area is sustained. The crisis is not yet over and efforts must not be relaxed. This implies pursuing commonly agreed and differentiated reform and consolidation efforts to create growth and jobs and enhancing competitiveness, while ensuring financial stability.

The commonly agreed approach also includes a strong social dimension, which is reflected in a variety of European Union policies and instruments (like the European Social Fund, the proposed youth guarantee or the future Youth Employment Initiative) that complement national action in order to protect the most vulnerable from the worst effects of the crisis.

Regarding the Italy's economic situation, the Commission believes that the country is undergoing an ambitious reform process that, if fully implemented, will significantly raise its growth potential. Italy has also put its public finances on a more sound footing, an essential condition to ensure growth.
President Barroso underlined that the Commission remains committed to assist Italy and all the other EU countries in this challenge.

President Barroso expressed his full confidence that Italy, as one of Europe's and the world's biggest economies, will ensure the conditions of political stability in the interest of Italy and Europe as a whole.

Official visit to Ireland

President Barroso met today with Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny, where they discussed the economic situation in Europe and the EU's multiannual financial framework (MFF). The President and the Taoiseach also held talks with European Parliament President Martin Schulz, which were focused on the MFF.

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EC

Following the official meetings, President Barroso expressed his wish for the Parliament and Council to reach a consensual conclusion to work on the EU's next seven-year budget, the multi annual financial framework.

The President welcomed the adoption of the Commission's proposal on youth guarantees, which he said was an "important signal to the almost 6 million young people that are unemployed in the EU today". He also welcomed the important progress made on the reform of the capital requirements directive, which should ensure that banks pay their own way in future, "without asking taxpayers for help".

While in Dublin, the President also spoke at a conference on "The Business of Europe" where he stressed that competitiveness is crucial for growth and job creation in the EU.

During the visit President Barroso also held a debate with students in Trinity College, where he called on the young people of Ireland to be fully involved in the growing debate about shaping the future of the EU. "They are benefitting from a choice made 40 years ago by their parents; generation – now they need to be involved in setting out their generation's views on what kind of Europe we want for the future," concluded the President.

President's statement following official meetings

President's speech at the IBEC CEO conference 2013

Read more on the agreement on a Youth Guarantee

President's speech at the Trinity College Historical Society

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New Science and Technology Advisory Council holds first meeting

The Science and Technology Advisory Council will focus on science- and technology-related topics which span multiple policy areas and which have clear benefits to European society. It will see where science, research and innovation can offer a valuable contribution to future development in Europe.

27/02/2013

EC

After meeting the newly established Science and Technology Advisory Council on Wednesday, European Commission President Barroso stressed the importance of science and innovation as key drivers for European competitiveness, economic growth and job creation.

As an independent and informal group of outstanding science and technology experts, the new council will provide advice to President Barroso on how to create the proper environment for innovation by shaping a European society that embraces science, technology and engineering.

With the creation of this council, a step which follows the Commission’s proposal to significantly increase the budget for research and innovation in Europe, President Barroso has added another building block in the pursuit to deliver smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for Europe.

Read more on the creation of a Science and Technology Advisory Council

Information on Chief Scientific Adviser Ms Anne Glover

Statement by President Barroso on the death of former Commissioner Bruce Millan

Commission President José Manuel Barroso issued the following statement on Saturday evening: "It is with great sadness that I learned today of the passing of the former British Commissioner for regional policy and cohesion, Bruce Millan."

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Ryder Cup

"The current negotiations for the Multi-Annual Financial Framework are a good reminder of the debt that the European Union owes to the remarkable work of Bruce Millan. He made a major contribution as British Commissioner and was a staunch defender of the benefits that cohesion policy can bring to all parts of the European Union. I know from my own country, Portugal, the positive changes that he helped to create. On behalf of the European Commission I would like to extend my condolences to his family."

EU and Ukraine willing to move towards closer political and economic ties

Political association and economic integration through a new Association Agreement was one of the main topics on the Summit's agenda. Leaders also addressed energy relations, a visa liberalisation action plan, and other regional and multilateral issues.

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EC

The newly signed Association Agreement will bring concrete benefits to both EU and Ukraine's citizens. "It will give Ukraine greater access to the world's biggest internal market and bring significant benefits in terms of increased trade, investment and real economic modernisation," explained President Barroso. This process will require deep reforms, tangible and substantial progress and determined actions by the Ukrainian authorities, he added.

Speaking at the post-summit press conference President Barroso expressed his satisfaction with Ukraine's unequivocal commitment to seizing the opportunity to pursue genuine reforms and to uphold democratic values. He looked forward to concrete action being taken in the changes in the electoral code, overall political and economic reforms and decisive action on the issue of selective justice.

"During the Summit we have agreed on a Macro-Financial Assistance package of €610 million to support Ukraine's balance of payments over the coming years," said the President. This is the largest ever Macro-Financial Assistance package and represents a clear demonstration of the EU's support to Ukraine’s prosperity.

The EU was represented at the Summit by President of the European Council Van Rompuy and the European Commission President Barroso, while Ukraine was represented by President Viktor Yanukovych.

Read the President's speaking points at the press conference

More on the EU-Ukraine Summit

16th EU-Ukraine Summit Joint Statement

Watch video after the summit

President Barroso on the result of the presidential elections in Cyprus

President Barroso warmly congratulated Nikos Anastasiades on his election as the President of Cyprus.

24/02/2013

President Barroso and Nikos Anastasiades

"The Cypriot people have given Mr. Anastasiades a strong mandate to implement his programme of reform and to do what it takes to ensure fiscal and financial sustainability. I spoke to Mr. Anastasiades immediately after the result became known and I have assured him that he can count on the continued commitment of the European Commission to assist Cyprus to overcome the challenges it faces. I have also assured the President-elect of our unwavering support for the efforts to achieve a lasting settlement towards the reunification of Cyprus. I wish Nikos Anastasiades every success for his mandate."

Strong EU – Norway relationship brings gains for both sides

Meeting on Friday in Brussels, President Barroso and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg discussed a number of bilateral and regional issues.

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In his statement after the meeting President Barroso said: "The Prime Minister and I share the analysis that our relationship is rock-solid, it's a political and economic stronghold in difficult economic times full of uncertainties. It brings about concrete economic and political gains for both sides. Norway benefits for example from access to the largest integrated market in the world – the European Union market."

He continued: "I am very happy that today's meeting confirmed once again our mutual commitment to develop further our very special relationship. It is a source of confidence, stability and prosperity for both sides."

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Reaction by President Barroso to German Federal President Gauck's Europe speech

"This was a great and honest speech about Europe for which I congratulate Federal President Gauck wholeheartedly."  

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German Federal President Gauck

President Barroso fully shares German Federal President's appeal to citizens to develop an interest, to get involved, to make use of Europe's opportunities and discuss its perspectives.

"This is precisely what I wish to see ahead of the European elections 2014: a genuine and broad debate on our common future. My vision of a democratic federation of nation states, which promotes its interests in a globalised world effectively and which guarantees freedom, democracy, security and prosperity for its citizens, can only be legitimised with such a debate."

Statement on economic governance

President Barroso and Vice President Rehn issued a joint statement following today's trilogue agreement on the Two-Pack legislation on  economic governance in the euro area.

20/02/2013

President Barroso and Vice President Rehn

In the joint statement they noted that today's trilogue agreement is a significant step towards further reinforcing the Economic and Monetary Union.

Once legislation is adopted the Commission intends to take steps in the short-term – 6 to 12 months – towards a deep and genuine EMU as outlined in the Commission's Blueprint.

President Barroso and Vice President Rehn reiterated that the Commission is committed to putting forward ideas for Treaty changes in time for a debate before the next European Parliament elections in 2014.

Read the Commission's press release on the Two-Pack legislation, November 2011

African Union is EU's key partner in the African continent

President Barroso met African Union Commission Chairperson Ms Dlamini-Zuma to discuss strengthening international, bilateral and economic relations between the EU and the AU. Security and development issues were also addressed.

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EC

After the meeting with African Union Commission Chairperson Ms Dlamini-Zuma President Barroso pointed out that the strengthening of the relations between the EU and Africa is one of his top priorities. He welcomed Dr Dlamini-Zuma's determination to tackle issues such as education, health, agriculture, trade, science and technology, youth and women empowerment and added that European Commission remains committed to the economic and social development of African countries.

"Our European Development Fund for the next financial period will remain considerable, around 27 billion euros," declared President Barroso. The President reiterated the importance of the integration, because "in the world of the 21st century we are sure that we can better protect our interests and values if we act together," expressing his hopes that the Commission proposal to create a pan-African programme, which will support continental integration, will also be part of the final deal.

"The European Union should look beyond and promote growth through more trade and investment between both Unions," he mentioned, adding that there are many complementarities that can make economic cooperation a win-win partnership, both for Africans and for Europeans.

At the same time Africa and Europe must build on a shared vision for their future relations. "I'm sure that Dr Dlamini-Zuma will contribute to develop this strategic vision. I'm also ready on the European side to give this contribution," said the President and added that European Commission's College visit to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to meet AU College in April 2013 will be also the launch for the preparations for next year’s Africa-EU Summit.

Read full President's statement

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Kosovo is making progress, step by step

In a meeting between President Barroso and Mr Hashim Thaçi, Prime Minister of Kosovo, the progress of Kosovo, its relations with the EU, and visa liberalisation were the main topics addressed.

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Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi and President Barroso © EU

"Prime Minister Thaçi's visit is proof that Kosovo is realising its European perspective, and that it is engaging constructively on the key issues that will determine its European future and the well-being of all citizens," said President Barroso in his statement to the press after the meeting. He emphasised that 2013 could see a decision on opening negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement – if the required progress is made.

The President of the Commission mentioned that substantial progress has already been made on public administration reform, the protection of minorities and the Rule of Law. He pointed out that the results of the upcoming Dialogue between Thaçi's meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Dačić are critically important for EU relations with both Kosovo and Serbia, and wished the Prime Minister courage and wisdom for the days ahead.

On the visa liberalisation issue President Barroso noted that the Commission presented a first report on Kosovo's progress towards visa liberalisation last week together with the recommendations, and reiterated that "we are satisfied with progress on legislation. But Kosovo needs to do more on implementation."

"This week and the next months will be critical in realising an ambitious agenda for EU relations with Kosovo set by Council," concluded President Barroso.

Watch video following the meeting

There can be no agreement on the Multiannual budget without the European Parliament

President Barroso put great emphasis on stressing that the essential point for the next Multiannual budget (MFF) is flexibility. He also expressed his support for the European Parliament's call for a real revision clause of the whole Multiannual budget.

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In his opening speech at the European Parliament open Conference of Presidents, he said: "Indeed, as I also stated in the European Council, without proper levels of flexibility, the MFF as agreed amongst Heads of State and Government, can simply not work. The Commission considers that a difference of € 51.5 billion between commitments and payments in the next MFF can only be accepted to the extent that we have specific and maximum flexibility so as to be able to allow the Union to fulfil its obligations under the Treaty."

In the closing remarks of the debate, the President elaborated more on the critically important flexibility: "If I compare the present period with the next MFF the figures are telling. During the six first years of this MFF period, which are completed we have spent on average 122.2 billion euros annually in actual payments… For the next MFF period with an overall payments ceiling fixed at 908.4 billion euros the average level of payments can reach 129.7 billion euros. This is 7.5 billion euros more payments every year during the seven years. So of course most depends now on the proper solutions of flexibility – flexibility between chapters, flexibility between years."

President Barroso also noted and supported the European Parliament's call for a real revision clause of the whole Multiannual budget. "Given the uncertainties of our world and the fact that we are looking at agreeing an MFF for 7 years I share the view that a real revision clause will be needed," he said.

He also recalled the general Commission position on the agreement achieved by the Heads of State or Government at the February European Council He reiterated that the Commission would of course have preferred an outcome closer to its original proposal, but respects the unanimous agreement by the 27 Heads of State or Government. The Commission also welcomes that the basic structure of the Commission's proposal, as well as some innovative instruments have been preserved, the creation of a new Youth Employment Initiative and significant increase in funding for programmes supporting research, education and small and medium sized enterprises.

"The Commission will fully play its role to achieve the best possible deal for the 500 million citizens of the Union," concluded the President.

Developing Strategic Thinking in the EU – Global Trends 2030

Speaking at the ESPAS - European Strategy and Policy Analysis System - conference President Barroso presented his view on the major trends European Union and others strategic partners are facing and laid out possible policy responses.

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EC

In his opening speech at the ESPAS conference President Barroso pointed out that forecasting is more than trying to find out what will happen tomorrow: "It is a way to focus on what matters today. Forward thinking is a precondition for forward planning."

President Barroso listed the examples how the world will change in the years to come and stressed that black and white analyses of the decline of the west and rise of the rest, as well as the analyses that ignore the magnitude of the changes, are simplistic.

The challenge for the future according to Commission President is not so much the trends coming at us, but our political ability to shape them.

European integration is part of the answer to face the future challenges. And we will continue to evolve in close cooperation with our strategic partners. We have already set out the vision and a roadmap on how Europe can move into the next stages of integration and opened the debate on how our Union should evolve in the longer run already with the Blueprint for a Deep and Genuine Economic and Monetary Union

The ESPAS project us part of that effort. The conference will feed into the on-going work to deliver a major ESPAS report in 2014, which should have a clear impact on the political decisions in the next EU institutional cycle.

Visit the official site of BEPA and watch the video

Opening speech

Watch video from the conference

The Commission demonstrates its support for Mali

‘I informed the Prime Minister today of the European pledge to organise a European donor conference in mid-May to help with the reconstruction of Mali,’ President Barroso declared, after his meeting with Mr Django Cissoko on Monday evening.  

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EU

‘This is another demonstration of our pledge and commitment to the stability, unity, democracy and development of Mali. The Malian people can rely on Europe,’ continued the President.

‘Since President Traore’s appeal for international assistance, the European Union, jointly and individually through its Member States, specifically France’s decisive military action, has provided unfailing support to Mali. I reiterated to Prime Minister Cissoko today our determination to continue and increase this European support.’  

The European Union has already made significant decisions to help Mali, in particular with:

Read the whole of the President’s statement

Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions of 18/2 on Mali

Read more on the launch of the EU Training Mission to Mali

European Union and United States will launch negotiations for transatlantic free trade agreement

"The Commission will move quickly to present a negotiating mandate to our Member States so we can start negotiations as soon as possible, still during the Irish Presidency of the Council," said President Barroso at the press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

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EU and US flag

At the beginning of his statement, President Barroso warmly welcomed the commitment of President Obama to this shared goal: "I look forward to working closely with him to achieve this," he said.

He underlined that a future deal between the world's two most important economic powers will be a game-changer: it will form the largest free trade zone in the world and as such will set the standard – not only for our future bilateral trade and investment, including regulatory issues, but also for the development of global trade rules.

President Barroso emphasised the benefits the future deal will bring in terms of a strong boost to the economies on both sides of the Atlantic: "It will be a comprehensive agreement going beyond tariffs, by integrating markets and removing barriers. It is estimated that, when this agreement is up and running, the European economy will get a stimulus of half a percent of our GDP – which translates into tens of billions of euros every year and tens of thousands of new jobs … And most important of all: it is a boost to our economies that doesn't cost a cent of tax payers' money."

"The sooner we start, the sooner we can reach a successful conclusion and put in place the biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated," concluded the President.

Read the full speech by the President

Statement from U.S. President Barack Obama, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso

Final report of the High-Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth

Read more on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Read the remarks by EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht

Watch the video

General Report on the Activities of the European Union 2012 now online

Today the European Commission published the General Report on the Activities of the European Union 2012 which presents the actions taken to address all the challenges of the past year.

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Throughout 2012, the EU and the world have been faced with a series of challenges that required immediate and sustained responses: from tackling the economic crisis to promoting democracy, stability and prosperity in the Union's neighbourhood and other parts of the world.

The General Report describes a year full of significant events, both in Europe and beyond. One of the highlights was the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union for its deep and abiding commitment to peace and the rule of law ever since its foundation. 2012 was also marked by a solid EU response to the economic and financial crisis with the establishment of the permanent European Stability Mechanism (with a firepower of 500 billion euro), a new Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (the so-called Fiscal Compact) now in place and with the agreement on a Single Banking Supervisor laying the first building blocks of a banking union. The year in review was also marked by a renewed debate on the future of the Union, on the deepening of economic and monetary union and on how the EU might move towards a deeper political union.

The General Report on the Activities of the European Union is published every year and gives an account of the European Union's major initiatives throughout the year. It is published in 22 official languages and can be accessed online (there is also an e-book version available for tablets and smart phones).

Statement on the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, noted with emotion the announcement made today by his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI regarding his imminent resignation.

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Commons

President Barroso expressed his great respect for the work accomplished by Pope Benedict XVI and for his tireless support for defending ecumenical values, such as peace and the consideration given to human rights. The spirit of reconciliation which motivated the reflections and actions of the Holy Father must also be praised.

President Barroso remembers vividly the exchanges he was able to have with his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, in particular during a private audience in 2006, which were opportunities to share a particular vision of Europe and the world, built on ideas of peace, justice and solidarity.

European Council: EU multiannual budget 2014-20 agreed by Heads of State or Government

President Barroso stated that a fair assessment of the agreement between the Heads of State or Government should recognise that this deal is not perfect but it offers a basis for negotiations with the European Parliament. "I hope these negotiations will be successful," he said.

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EC

The President stressed that one essential condition for this agreement to work is a maximum possible flexibility that will allow adaption to changes or developments, for example by moving spending from one year to another.

He said that despite the fact that the levels agreed by the Heads of State and Government are below what the Commission considers desirable … "the deal that has been agreed tonight can still be an important catalyst for growth and jobs."

The President highlighted several positive elements of the new multiannual budget:

1. The basic structure of the Commission proposal and some innovative instruments have been preserved, including the Connecting Europe Facility which provides for investment in transport, energy and the digital agenda. This makes the EU's budget a tool for competitiveness and growth with a pan-European logic.

2. More significant investment than previously will benefit European programmes crucial for supporting growth and jobs creation – such as Horizon 2020 for research and innovation, Erasmus for all for student exchanges and training abroad, and COSME for small and medium sized enterprises.

3. Important elements designed to address the current major social challenges have been included, especially a new Youth Employment Initiative – a commitment to act at EU level on today’s main political challenge: getting young people back in to work. The aid programme for the most deprived people in Europe has also been preserved, as well as European commitment to development and humanitarian aid.

On another point on the European Council agenda – trade – President Barroso said he is glad that the European Council has adopted strong conclusions that endorse the Commission’s ambitious trade agenda. "We need to move forward on free trade agreements as better access would increase GDP by at least 2% ... The Commission will push ahead to realise the full potential of an integrated transatlantic free trade agreement. I hope that very soon the High Level Working Group will present to us and President Obama a recommendation to launch negotiations on a transatlantic trade agreement".

Finally, President Barroso reiterated that delivering on the EU's commitments to its partners in the Southern Mediterranean ("Arab Spring" countries) continues to be a top priority. "The case for engagement remains stronger than ever. I am pleased with the resolve shown by the European Council to continue supporting the transition to democracy in the region," he said.

Read the full speech by the President

Watch video of the speech

Read the European Council Conclusions

Read the President's presentation: The EU trade agenda: opportunities ahead pdf - 2 MB [2 MB] Deutsch (de) français (fr) português (pt)

Read the letter on trade from President Barroso ahead of the European Council pdf - 130 KB [130 KB] Deutsch (de) français (fr) português (pt)

Read the contribution from the Commission to the February European Council debate on trade, growth and jobs

Access both the President's letter and the brochure in other languages

President Barroso outlines Commission position before European Council on EU budget, trade and neighbourhood policy

In his speech in the European Parliament, President Barroso strongly emphasised the solidarity aspect of the EU's multiannual budget (MFF) and called on the Heads of State and government not to miss this opportunity to use it to fight youth unemployment.

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EU

The President stressed that the crisis is far from over and the MFF is an indispensable part of our response to both the economic and the social crisis: "There are member states which simply do not have the means to support their local workers when a company decides to move its plants elsewhere. There are some member states which do not even have the means to take care of the most deprived. Do we want these people, do we want these societies to turn their back to Europe?"

The same applies for the 25 million young unemployed people in the European Union. "I want to make an appeal to the Heads of State and government not to miss this opportunity to use the European budget to fight youth unemployment. We have a chance to take the right decisions, to offer our young men and women the perspective of a life in dignity," said President Barroso.

The President also stressed he will fight hard to preserve the European dimension of the multiannual budget – initiatives like Horizon 2020 for research, Connecting Europe, COSME for SMEs and Erasmus for All.

On trade, President Barroso recalled the vital contribution it brings to Europe's economic recovery. In 2012 external demand was the main source of growth for the European economy – almost an extra 1% to EU GDP and about 30 million jobs which depend on exports. He referred to recent milestones for the Commission in this policy, such as the successfully concluded Free Trade Agreement with Korea last year and completed negotiations with Singapore. The talks with Canada will be hopefully concluded in the near future, negotiations with Japan will start shortly and the possibility of such an agreement is being explored intensively with the United States. "If we are to benefit as fully as possible … we must be pro-active and ambitious", said the President

Another point on the agenda of the 7 – 8 February European Council will be the situation in the countries of the EU's southern neighbourhood, two years after the start of the "Arab Spring" uprising. President Barroso pointed out that the EU external credibility will be largely judged by the capacity to act with partners in this region so as to jointly shape the common neighbourhood.

"The mass movements across the region were about the desire for democracy and freedom. We will continue to support these ideals so as to avoid that extremist forces hijack the political transitions underway. We will be especially attentive to the respect of fundamental rights, namely the rights of women," he said, recalling the special support the EU has generated for the region since 2012.

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Discussion with François Hollande, President of the French Republic

‘I appeal to the heads of state and government who are meeting this week in Brussels, to find a compromise which reflects our ambition for Europe,’ President Barroso said in his speech, during his discussion in the plenary session with President of the French Republic, François Hollande.

05/02/2013

President Hollande at the European Parliament © EU

President Barroso recalled that the consolidation of public finances and reforms are essential for competitiveness, but insufficient for ensuring sustainable growth. ‘We also need investment and the most significant instrument we have for investment at European level is precisely the European budget,’ he said.

The president also thanked France for its efforts towards ensuring the integrity and stability of the Economic and Monetary Union.  In terms of national economies, he congratulated the country for its efforts regarding the consolidation of public finances, reforms for competitiveness and combating unemployment.

Lastly, President Barroso praised France for its action in Mali: ‘By supporting the people of Mali, you have ensured that Europe was also present, by defending our interests and values and demonstrating that indeed we have a mission which extends beyond Europe’s borders’. 

Read the speech

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President Barroso writes to the European Council on the contribution of trade to growth and jobs

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, has written to his colleagues in the European Council ahead of their meeting later this week to underline the contribution that trade can make to boost growth and jobs in the European Union.

05/02/2013

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Attached to the President's letter is a detailed paper enclosed that summarises the rationale behind the EU's trade policy, the changing nature of the trade agenda and sets out the main policy orientations the European Union should consider for the future .

"Trade is an essential lever in our strategy to boost growth and jobs in the EU… In the future, 90% of world-wide growth is expected to be generated outside Europe", the President said. "Grasping the opportunities offered by these external sources of growth will be critical for the future dynamism and sustainability of our economy".

He added: "What is at stake is not just the capacity to maintain or expand market shares but also the ability of the EU to compete; to attract global investment and join global value chains; and to help our citizens and businesses to take up opportunities across the world.",

The President goes on to add that: "While preserving and reinforcing the centrality of the multilateral trading system is in our long-term strategic interest, in the current environment we must also be more proactive in our bilateral relationships."

He gave as an example the landmark agreements such as the EU-Korea free Trade Agreement and the concluded negotiations with Singapore. The Commission also expects to conclude shortly agreements with Canada and India and will start negotiations with Japan and the United States. "The importance of these strategic partners cannot be overstated", he said.

"While the EU overall is doing well in terms of global trade, the situation inside the EU differs from one Member State to another and between sectors and regions. We need to address these issues in our economic and structural policies, namely in the framework of the on-going reforms for competitiveness. And our commitment to open markets will continue to be upheld by our capacity to act against anti-competitive trade practices, through the appropriate instruments."

Read the letter pdf - 130 KB [130 KB] Deutsch (de) français (fr) português (pt)

Read the contribution from the Commission to the February European Council debate on trade, growth and jobs pdf - 764 KB [764 KB] Deutsch (de) français (fr) português (pt)

Access both the President's letter and the brochure in other languages

Reform process and economy discussed with Romanian Prime Minister

The main subjects for discussion between President Barroso and Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Monday were the latest progress report under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, adopted by the Commission last week, and Romania's economic situation.

04/02/2013

EC

On the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), President Barroso expressed appreciation for Prime Minister Ponta's efforts over the last six months to deliver on the commitments he made last July. "The conditions now exist, with a more stable political situation – a new Government and Parliament – to make a real push on the reform process," said the President. He noted that further progress on the independence of the judiciary and the appointment to key posts will be crucial milestones in order to succeed in the reform process. He also stressed that the politicians should lead by example by stepping aside where integrity rulings or corruption charges exist.

On the economy, President Barroso welcomed the efforts of the Romanian government to reduce the deficit, expected to be below 3% of GDP in 2012. "This is a real achievement, especially against a background of economic and political difficulties," underlined the President.

Schengen accession was also among the other issues discussed. "As you know, I support, and the Commission supports, Romania's accession to Schengen," he said in his statement after the meeting.

Answering a question on media freedom in Romania, President Barroso stressed in very strong terms that the freedom of the media is a sacrosanct principle and that the Commission will always defend free and pluralist media in Romania and elsewhere. He also expressed his concerns over the complaints addressed to the Commission on orchestrated campaigns in the media that might pose a serious threat to independence of the judiciary in Romania.

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