President Barroso: "the EU will continue supporting Cape Verde’s development"
On Monday, President Barroso met the President of Cape Verde, Mr Jorge Carlos Fonseca.
President Fonseca of Cape Verde visited the European Commission for a bilateral meeting and a working lunch with President Barroso. During the meeting, they exchanged views on the domestic political and economic situation in the country.
At the end of the meeting, President Barroso highlighted the excellent cooperation between the EU and Cape Verde. He announced that the European Commission has proposed not to reduce Cape Verde's national allocation under the 11th European Development Fund, despite a general reduction in allocations for Middle Income Countries.
The President said that Cape Verde is a case of success among developing countries with a stable and consolidated parliamentary democracy and, despite a lack of natural resources, succeeded in becoming a middle income country in 2007 and reaching enormous progress on the MDG's. "I congratulate you and all the Cape Verdeans for these achievements", the President said.
On trade, the President said: "I congratulate Cape Verde on the application for the EU's Generalised scheme of preferences (GSP+) special incentive trading scheme which is a reflection of the excellent trade and political relationship between Cape Verde and the EU." The act by which GSP+ preferences shall be granted to Cape Verde is now under scrutiny by the Council and the European Parliament. The President added "We hope that the act will enter into force as soon as possible, so that new GSP+ preferences will be applicable to Cape Verde already on 1 January 2014. This will support the competitiveness and diversification of the economy of Cape Verde".
The 2007 EU-Cape Verde Special Partnership goes beyond a traditional donor-recipient relationship scheme and includes six priority sectors: governance, security, information society, regional integration, normative and technical convergence and fight against poverty.
Boosting growth through the online economy, telecoms and innovation
The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso has this afternoon written to Heads of State and Government to set out how Europe can get more out of the online economy to boost growth and jobs. President Barroso states that "Digital services and telecommunications are crucial drivers of growth and productivity across all sectors of our economies. However, we are not getting the most out of the potential for our single market in telecommunications and online and in these industries the EU is losing ground to our international partners".
The October European Council will devote time to the contribution that innovation, the digital single market and services can provide to Europe's recovery from the crisis; President Barroso has sent a copy of the Commission report on the digital economy. He urges Heads of State and Government to reach agreement swiftly on the proposals on the table on high-speed broadband, electronic invoicing in public procurement, electronic identification; payment services, copyright and e-commerce. He also stresses that the EU's data protection rules are essential for citizens and businesses confidence and must be adopted before the end of the parliamentary term.
President Barroso underlines that investment in R&D is crucial for growth, competitiveness and job creation as Europe still lags behind its international competitors. In the letter, he states that "…we need to accelerate the critical and structural reforms of our national research and innovation systems to achieve our aims for a European Research Area". The Commission has finalised work on an innovation indicator to help measure our performance and launch the discussion at the October European Council.
President Barroso in New York: "the world has made great progress in fighting poverty"
The President of the European Commission conveyed the EU’s strong and unwavering commitment to the elimination of poverty and to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
President Barroso on Wednesday attended a United Nations special event on the Millennium Development Goals. The event focused on accelerating achievement of those Goals and setting the roadmap for agreeing on a sustainable development framework beyond the 2015 target date.
"My political vision is that of a world where every man, woman and child lives in dignity and prosperity; where preventable infant and maternal mortality are confined to history; where poor access to water, to education and health services, and the abuse of fundamental human rights are things of the past; but also a world where we unite to address our shared global challenges, such as climate change and advance together on a more sustainable growth path."
The President also said that the European Union remains very committed to the MDGs. "I am proud of the contribution the European Union makes to the MDGs: Over the last ten years, we helped 70 million more households to have access to drinking water. 7.5 million births were attended by skilled health personnel. Our support has ensured that nearly 14 million more boys and girls benefit from primary education", the President added.
Looking forward, the twin tracks of poverty elimination and achieving sustainable development shall be brought together, leading to a single, ambitious and comprehensive post-2015 framework.
Updated 23 September
On Tuesday, President Barroso delivered a speech at the 1st High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
In his speech, President Barroso said: "Poverty is not only morally wrong, it is also economically unsustainable. Environmental degradation is not only ecologically wrong, it is also economically destructive. And both, poverty and environmental degradation are politically unacceptable"
Regarding the new Forum, the President said that the EU "will continue supporting the critical work of the HLPF to integrate better the three dimensions of sustainable development". "Sustainable development should be at the centre of a better coordinated UN system ", he added.
The establishment of the 1st High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development was decided at the Rio+20 Conference. This Forum will provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development and will follow-up and review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments.
The meetings of the forum will be convened every four years under the auspices of the General Assembly at the level of Heads of State and Government and every year under the auspices of ECOSOC.
President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso receives the Charles V European Award
The European Academy of Yuste Foundation announced today in Mérida that the 'Charles V European Award' will be given to President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso.
The award recognizes the work of people whose efforts and dedication contribute to the general knowledge of the cultural, scientific and historic values of Europe, as well as the process of unification of the European Union.
President Barroso expressed his appreciation and stated that "it is a great honour for me to receive this award. I want to congratulate the European Academy of Yuste Foundation for their important work and contribution to the European project. This is an award that recognizes the winners' work and dedication to Europe and for Europe and this is for me, as president of the European Commission, especially felt and appreciated. "
The 'Charles V European Award' is awarded by the Board of the European Academy of Yuste Foundation on the basis of a proposal by a jury, which is appointed for that purpose and composed of renowned personalities in different cultural areas of Europe.
Joint message to the President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta
European Commission President Barroso and the European Council President Van Rompuy sent a joint message to the President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta stating:"It was with great shock and sadness that we learnt of the brutal attack on innocent citizens at the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi on Saturday. The European Union firmly condemns all such terror attacks. We send our most sincere condolences to the families and friends of the bereaved and our sympathy to those injured and all affected by the events. In the face of this appalling attack we would like to reaffirm our strong support for Kenya and the Kenyan people. Please feel assured of our solidarity at these times."
Meeting the "Stoiber-group": A passionate call to step up efforts to cut red tape
"The EU needs to be big on big things and smaller on smaller things". Just shortly after the State of the Union Address, President Barroso attended a meeting of the "Stoiber Group", and discussed ways to further reduce administrative burden for businesses in order to boost growth and jobs.
President Barroso said: "Within the past five years the Commission has initiated measures that reduce red tape for EU businesses by up to €32.3 billion a year. We need to cooperate closely with Member States to ensure that these savings bring real relief to businesses. In early October, the Commission will present the next steps for making EU legislation fit for purpose and reducing the burden for companies, in particular, SMEs. These efforts are essential to put Europe back on track and generate more growth and more jobs."
Concrete measures adopted so far include the switch to a fully electronic VAT invoicing system and reducing the number of companies that need to provide data for intra-EU trade statistics. The latest initiative, adopted in June this year, further simplifies accounting rules for small companies, with an estimated annual savings of about €1.5 billion.
Quote from the State of the Union address of 11 September 2013: "I value subsidiarity highly. For me, subsidiarity is not a technical concept. It is a fundamental democratic principle. An ever closer union among the citizens of Europe demands that decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely to the people as possible. Not everything needs a solution at European level. Europe must focus on where it can add most value. Where this is not the case, it should not meddle. The EU needs to be big on big things and smaller on smaller things - something we may occasionally have neglected in the past. The EU needs to show it has the capacity to set both positive and negative priorities. As all governments, we need to take extra care of the quality and quantity of our regulation knowing that, as Montesquieu said, 'les lois inutiles affaiblissent les lois nécessaires'. ['Useless laws weaken the necessary ones'.] But there are areas of major importance where Europe must have more integration, more unity. Where only a strong Europe can deliver results."
President Barroso meets President Atambaïev of Kyrgyzstan and announces further support
Today, President Barroso welcomed President Almazbek Atambaïev of Kyrgyzstan at the European Commission.
Kyrgyzstan is an important partner for the EU in the strategic region of Central Asia.
President Barroso said "the EU highly values the strategic choice of Kyrgyzstan to pursue political and economic reforms and to consolidate a democratic multiparty system" and underlined "the recent adoption of a National Sustainable Development Strategy".
The promotion of the rule of law, in particular Transparency and Accountability, was also a core topic of the agenda. After the meeting, the two Presidents witnessed the signature of an agreement for the Promotion of the respect of Rule of Law in Kyrgyzstan. The agreement is backed by a financial commitment of 13.5 Million euros.
Regarding economic development, the President said " the economic rebound in Kyrgyzstan this year, as you know there is a 7,4% growth expected, is very encouraging ". The EU is "committed to support Kyrgyzstan in these efforts, including by providing macro-financial assistance for a total of 30 Million euros in the coming months", he added.
President Barroso to Prime Minister Rama: "Albania's future is in the EU"
Today, President Barroso welcomed Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania at the European Commission to discuss the next steps in the EU integration process.
They focused on the state of play of the country's commitment to reform in the light of the EU integration process.
After the meeting, President Barroso said "Let me be clear on the strategic perspective: Albania's future is in the European Union. I am confident in Albania's potential and its capacity and commitment to fulfil the criteria and make progress, step by step, on its European path."
President Barroso recognised that "Albania has already made progress towards this aim, delivering solid reform results" and he called for a "continued commitment, and I know that the Albanian citizens are very supportive of European integration, and constructive political dialogue". On the economic front, he said "structural reforms are necessary to ensure long term growth and improve the business and investment environment."
Albania – along with other Western Balkans countries – was recognised as a potential candidate country for EU accession in 2003 and officially submitted a membership application in April 2009. In October 2012, the Commission recommended that Albania be granted EU candidate status, subject to completion of key measures in the areas of judicial and public administration reform and revision of the parliamentary rules of procedures.
President Barroso welcomes Greek presidency 2014 as positive sign
President Barroso has welcomed Greece's Council presidency in 2014 as a confirmation of renewed confidence in the country. "Prime Minister Samaras, a year ago the doomsayers were predicting that Greece would have to leave the euro," President Barroso told Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras during a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday.
"Through your leadership and the determination of the Greek people, they have been proved wrong. Not only that, but we see, now, better signals for the future. And you will be taking on the responsibility of a Council presidency of the European Union. I look forward to working with you at this decisive time for Europe," he said.
President Barroso met Mr Samaras in Brussels to discuss plans for the presidency, which kicks off in January 2014. They also discussed developments in the Greek economy and the financial assistance programme, which President Barroso said was "giving positive results". However, he said that further work was needed to consolidate the programme's gains. "The economic situation is still fragile and this is not the time to take our hands off the wheel but to roll up our sleeves," he said, adding that the Commission "continues to stand by" the Greek people during this challenging time. "I know that the Greek citizens are operating in extremely challenging and difficult circumstances, but I believe now we can say there is light at the end of the tunnel," he said.
He offered Prime Minister Samaras the Commission's support in the run-up to and during the upcoming presidency. "The Greek presidency will play an important role in ensuring that key legislative files are taken forward in the Council in the first crucial six months of 2014," President Barroso said. "I'm sure that from now until then, we will make also progress in delivering concrete results."
President Barroso announces additional 650 million euro to support Somalia
Today, President Barroso met the President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia ahead of the conference "A New Deal for Somalia". The European Commission is pledging 650 million euro to support the country.
"Somalia has made important progress this year and this conference is a recognition of this progress. It's also a proof of the European Union’s commitment to the future of the country and a sign of confidence that the whole international community is sending to the Somali people" the President said after the bilateral meeting.
Since 2008, the EU has provided more than 1.2 billion euro (521 million euro in development aid and 697 million euro in security and counter-piracy) to support the Somali peoples' basic needs and to improve the country's security.
Thanks to its work in Somalia, the EU has trained 7,000 police officers and 170 law officials, provided over 40,000 students with basic, primary and secondary education, trained 4,000 teachers (almost 30% women) and provided 700,000 people with access to water and 80,000 people with access to basic sanitation.
After the meeting, President Barroso thanked President Mohamud's "leadership and ownership of this process towards peace, stability and prosperity" and he said the EU "will remain heavily engaged in contributing to the country’s stabilisation".
"Somalia's accession to the Cotonou Agreement", he said, "opens a new chapter in our relations - and demonstrates that Somalia has regained its status as a fully-fledged member of the international community. With this, our relations have now a solid contractual basis".
President Barroso closes this pledging Conference today at 16.30. His speech is broadcasted on EbS.
President Barroso strongly supports "A New Deal for Somalia"
On Monday, President Barroso delivered a closing speech at the conference "A New Deal for Somalia". A total pledge of € 1.8 billion was raised during the conference, from 50 bilateral and multilateral donors.
The offer of pledges amounted to € 1.8 billion and, including 650 million euro pledged by the European Commission to support the country.
"We can say the Brussels conference has been successful, and we are proud to be part of that effort. The Conference has highlighted the commitment of the Somali people to work together, and the strong solidarity from the International Community to help Somalia achieve its goals", the President said in his closing remarks.
Somalia's eight-year transition ended in September 2012, with the peaceful handover to a new Federal Government. The Conference's objective was to sustain the positive momentum in Somalia, to ensure that the country stays on the path to stability and peace and brings prosperity to its people. The "New Deal" is the driver of this process.
Make the case for Europe
In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Barroso made a rallying call to 'all those that care about Europe, whatever their political or ideological position, wherever they come from, to speak up for Europe'.
Exactly five years after the fall of Lehman Brothers, the President's speech recalled what has been achieved since then. 'If we look back and think about what we have done together to unite Europe throughout the crisis, we would never have thought all of this possible 5 years ago,' he concluded, 'What matters now is what we make of this progress. Do we talk it up, or talk it down? Do we draw confidence from it to pursue what we've started, or do we belittle the results of our efforts?'
The President pointed out a number of recent figures and evolutions that give Europe good reason to be confident. 'For Europe,' he said, recovery is within sight. Of course, we need to be vigilant. But it does prove we are on the right track. This should push us to keep up our efforts. We owe it to those for whom the recovery is not yet within reach, to those who do not yet profit from positive developments. We owe it to our 26 million unemployed.'
President Barroso delivered an appeal for more European integration in the face of global developments: 'In our world of geo-economic and geopolitical tectonic changes, I believe that only together, as the European Union, we can give our citizens what they aspire: that in the age of globalisation our values, our interests, our prosperity continue to be protected and promoted.'
The bottom-line question in the debate going on all over Europe, President Barroso argued, is: 'Do we want to improve Europe, or give it up?'
'My answer is clear', he continued: 'Engage! If you don't like Europe as it is: improve it! As any human endeavour, the EU is not perfect. Controversies about the division of labour between the national and European levels will never be conclusively ended. Not everything needs a solution at European level. Europe must focus on where it can add most value. It does not have to meddle where this is not the case. The EU needs to be big on big things and smaller on smaller things.'
At the same time he made it very clear that the work on deepening the economic and monetary union remains as valid as ever: 'There are areas of major importance where Europe must have more integration, more unity. Where only a strong Europe can deliver results. A political union needs to be our political horizon. This is not just the demand of a passionate European. This is the indispensable way forward to consolidate our progress and ensure the future.'
State of the Union Address 2013 by President Barroso
G20 Summit: “EU objectives broadly achieved”
"We are pleased that the European Union's objectives for this summit have been broadly achieved", European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said in their joint statement on the outcome of the G20 Summit.
Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy represented the European Union at this year’s G20 summit that took place from 5 to 6 September in Saint Petersburg.
“The European Union this year came to the G20 with a message of confidence about delivery of its G20 commitments and the positive effects of its comprehensive crisis response, which are starting to show; while the efforts must not be relaxed”, both Presidents stated.
G20 members acknowledged that the EU has delivered on its substantive commitments from Los Cabos in 2012.
“They encouraged us to continue implementing our comprehensive crisis response including the swift adoption and implementation of a banking union. Doubts have been dispelled and our G20 partners have acknowledged the determined action of the European Union to draw the right lessons from the crisis”, Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy said.
Leaders also adopted the Saint Petersburg Action Plan for Growth and Jobs, with concrete contributions by all G20 members. Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy particularly “welcomed the very constructive discussions about the situation in the emerging economies and the willingness on all sides to engage in cooperative solutions and consider potential spillovers when conceiving and implementing national growth policies and to address structural issues in the concerned countries themselves.”
This G20 summit also cemented the global shift towards fairer taxation by agreeing on setting up the automatic exchange of tax information among G20 members as from 2015 – as the EU has pushed for – and leaders endorsed the OECD's work on base erosion and profit shifting.
Both Presidents noted with satisfaction that the G20 made good progress in the field of financial regulation, including by addressing the risks of shadow banking.
On trade, the G20's anti-protectionism commitment to extend the Toronto standstill clause to 2016, is "very good news", President Barroso and Van Rompuy said.
The 50th anniversary of Robert Schuman’s death
Today, President Barroso gave a statement to mark the 50th anniversary of Robert Schuman’s death.
In his statement, the President said:
‘Robert Schuman, whose famous declaration laid the foundations of today’s Europe, died 50 years ago.
His call for reconciliation between Europeans still resonates loudly. In the name of the European Commission and also in a personal capacity, I would like to pay homage to his memory and to bear witness to our respect and our gratitude.
A German by birth who became a French citizen after World War I, Robert Schuman was first and foremost a European, both in his heart and also in terms of his beliefs.
This founding father placed solidarity and cooperation at the heart of his vision of Europe: at peace, modern, and with confidence in its future.
Solidarity and cooperation must remain central to our activities. In a world that is becoming less and less European, we must conduct ourselves more and more like European citizens!
The Schuman declaration opens with these words: ‘World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it’. In the era of globalisation, we must place all our intelligence, energy and heart at the service of defending peace and democracy, freedom and justice, across Europe and throughout the world.’
Message to the Jewish Community on Rosh Hashanah 2013
President Barroso sent a message to the Jewish Community on the occasion of the Rosh Hashanah holiday.
Read the message here [12 KB]
President Barroso calls for a "united, strong and open Europe"
The President of the European Commission delivered a speech at Heads of Delegation Annual Conference, organised by the European External Action Service.
Today, President José Manuel Barroso delivered a speech at the European External Action Service's Annual Conference.
President Barroso thanked the Heads of Delegation and the Commission's and EEAS's staff working in EU's delegations around the world, for their excellent job "in a world where size matters and scale is an asset". "Our Europe will only succeed if it remains united, strong and open on the international stage", he added.
On Syria, the President said it "remains a stain on the world's conscience; we are now witnessing things which we thought were long eradicated from human behaviour. The use of chemical weapons is an abhorrent act that deserves our firm condemnation. It cannot go unnoticed or unpunished. But we should also focus on a comprehensive solution for the conflict. The chance of peace is fading quickly it is our collective duty to restore it".
The President of the European Commission also highlighted other topics such as the Commission's response to the crisis, the EU's social dimension and EU's role in global challenges.