Eastern Partnership Summit
The third Eastern Partnership Summit that took place on 29 November brought together heads of state and government from the 28 EU member states with those of the Eastern Partner countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
In the context of this Summit, the EU has initialled Association Agreements (including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area) with Georgia and with the Republic of Moldova; signed a Visa Facilitation Agreement with Azerbaijan; signed a framework agreement with Georgia on participation in EU Crisis management operations; and initialled a civil aviation agreement with Ukraine.
President Barroso's remarks at the Plenary Session of the 3rd Eastern Partnership Summit, his opening remarks at initialling ceremony of the Association Agreements with Georgia and Moldova, as well as his statement at the press conference together with President Van Rompuy and the President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite are available online.
28 November 2013
Today, President Barroso will travel to Vilnius for the third Eastern Partnership Summit.
The Eastern Partnership Summit will begin on Thursday 28 November with a summit meeting and an informal working dinner. President Barroso and President Van Rompuy will also hold a separate trilateral meeting with Viktor Yanukovych, the President of Ukraine, ahead of the dinner.
President Barroso commends Cypriot 'resolve' for reform after government visit
President Barroso has commended Cyprus for its resolve in implementing the financial assistance programme, and urged the government to make the best use of EU assistance to bolster the recovery.
After a series of meetings between the Commission and the Cypriot government in Brussels, President Barroso said: "We have discussed, during our meeting, precisely what we can do in concrete terms to support Cyprus."
Although the EU-IMF assistance programme is largely on track, President Barroso said that risks remain, and urged the government to keep up its reform efforts.
During a joint press conference with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, he reminded the government of the EU funding and technical assistance available to Cyprus.
"The extra 200 million euro agreed as part of the future EU budget will help Cyprus invest in energy efficiency, support SMEs and create jobs, including by contributing to funding for a youth guarantee," President Barroso said.
He also "strongly" urged the Cypriot authorities to take advantage of the technical assistance provided by the Cyprus Support Group, which was set up earlier this year to help ease the social effects of the crisis and nurture new sources of growth.
"I would like to assure the Cypriot authorities and the Cypriot people that the Commission stands behind you, ready to support you, as you seek to put the economy back on a more solid footing," he said.
The President was speaking after a meeting between the college of commissioners and several members of the Cypriot government. He also met bilaterally with President Anastasiades. The meetings covered a number of issues, including energy and the Cyprus settlement issue.
On energy, the President said he was confident that the recent discovery of gas reserves will contribute to economic growth and improve the security of energy supply for Cyprus and the EU, but stressed "the need to carry out a proper impact analysis for the investments to be made".
Cyprus settlement issue
On the Cyprus settlement issue, the President said that there is now a "genuine opportunity to reach a solution once and for all".
"Like President Anastasiades, I very much hope and expect that fully fledged negotiations will be re-launched soon," he said.
He said the Commission "supports efforts in agreeing on a joint statement with the other party", which he said would "facilitate the process of negotiations".
"From the Commission side, we will continue to show our support and, once we start to see concrete progress, we will further enhance our involvement, participation and visibility in the process," he said.
President Barroso: Eradicating poverty the main objective of EU development aid
"A forward-looking development agenda and true international cooperation, in the sense of managing globalisation, are a human imperative and a matter of strategic intelligence", said President Barroso in his keynote speech at the European Development Days.
Addressing world leaders and eminent figures from politics and academia, from the private sector and civil society, working in the field of development, President Barroso highlighted the importance of the Millennium Development Goals in making poverty a focus for the world attention. He praised the results so-far of the MDGs, but also acknowledged that not all goals have yet been met.
"We will continue to do everything we can to help the world meet the MDGs between now and the 2015 target date", the President said.
Looking beyond 2015, President Barroso underscored eradication of poverty and global sustainability as the core objectives.
"For the first time ever, we have what it takes to eliminate poverty in our lifetimes and to ensure sustainable prosperity within the boundaries of what our planet can provide", the President said.
He added: "By delivering on that promise, we can really work towards a vision of a world where every man, every woman, every child lives in dignity and prosperity. A world where giving birth should no longer be a risk. A world where access to water, sanitation, energy, education and health services is a self-evident right for all!"
The European Development Days conference, organised by the European Commission, takes place in Brussels on 26-27 November. The event is Europe’s premier forum on international affairs and development cooperation.
President Barroso on poverty: "we have to act together and learn from each other"
On Tuesday, President Barroso participated in the Third Annual Convention of the European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion. He called for common action to deal with poverty and social exclusion.
In his speech, President Barroso addressed what has happened since last year's convention, what has been done and what lies ahead.
"This year, contrary to the previous years, we are seeing a modest, but encouraging return to growth. Various indicators are improving and getting positive. But, and I want to underline this, others are, in fact, not going the right direction, namely unemployment and poverty. And so we have to consider this, because we may be facing a recovery that is uneven, that will not touch all the sectors of our societies", the President said.
Since last year, the Youth Employment Package, including the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative, plus the Social Investment Package have been launched. The Communication "Strengthening the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union" was also adopted by the European Commission last month.
But many challenges still lie ahead, and President Barroso urged all levels, European, national, regional and local level, to act together and to learn from each other on how to deal with poverty.
"We can and must complement what is done at national and subnational level with European responsibility and European solidarity. And the European Commission has been very consistent in asking Member States to show this commitment to European solidarity", said President Barroso.
President Barroso welcomes the Prime Minister of Cape Verde
Today President Barroso welcomed the Prime Minister of Cape Verde, Mr José Maria Pereira Neves, at the European Commission. They discussed the political and economic situation of this African country, the safety of the region and the Special Partnership EU-Cape Verde. Tomorrow, Prime Minister Pereira Neves participates in the European Development Days, together with President Barroso.
President Barroso congratulated Prime Minister Pereira Neves for Cape Verde's democratic stability, respect for human rights and the important economic and social progress. With a stable and consolidated parliamentary democracy, Cape Verde has become a country of medium income since 2007, having achieved great progress in the Millennium Development Goals' framework.
Cape Verde is however still facing many challenges and the EU will continue to support the country, addressing the negative impact of the international economic and financial situation, helping to consolidate reforms, to improve competitiveness and to combat unemployment and poverty.
Regarding trade, the EU will support the country with favourable conditions on the export of Cape Verdean products to Europe through the SPG+ system. The EU will also continue to assist the country financially through the 11th European Development Fund. The European Commission proposed an envelope of €55 million for Cape Verde in the 2014-2020 period.
President Barroso also highlighted the strong ties of Cape Verde with the EU, grounded on the Special Partnership launched in 2007 – a political association based in common principles and values. One example of this strong cooperation is the EU-Cape Verde agreement on mobility, the one of its kind with an ACP country.
The President concluded with a commitment to reinforce the cooperation in areas such as safety and stability and technical and regulatory convergence.
President Barroso visits Hong Kong
President Barroso is in Hong Kong today to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the EU Office in Hong Kong and for several bilateral meetings. His first official visit to Hong Kong as President of the European Commission took place in 2005.
In the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the President will meet the Chief Executive Chun-Ying Leung, and the President of the Legislative Council, Jasper Tsang.
He will deliver a speech to the Hong Kong business community hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce and attend a ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the EU Office's establishment.
Hong Kong is an international financial hub and one of the freest economies in the world. With close to 2,000 EU companies based in Hong Kong, the EU is the largest foreign business constituency in Hong Kong. Bilateral trade in goods reached €44.2 billion and grew by 5.9% in 2012.
"Hong Kong is a thriving and dynamic city and an important regional hub for trade and investment, thanks to its rule of law, freedom of information and expression as well as high transparency standards. The EU supports the "one country two systems" principle and in this context will remain a very close partner of Hong Kong. Our relations are strongly anchored in history but are continuously projected into the future", the President said ahead of this visit.
President Barroso visits Macao
Tomorrow President Barroso visits Macao - a region with strong ties to Portugal - to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the EU-Macao Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The President will also sign a EU-Macao Air Services Agreement with the Special Administrative Region of China. During his visit, he will meet Chief Executive Chui and representatives of Macao, EU and Portuguese communities.
The President will reaffirm the importance of the EU-Macao political, economic and cultural relations, which have profound historical roots. He will also enquire about the region's political reform and pass the message the EU's economy is returning to growth.
The visit celebrates the 20th anniversary of the EU-Macao Trade and Cooperation Agreement, a deal initiated in the 90s by the President while Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal. With 23,6% of its global trade, the EU is Macao's most important commercial partner. Between 2010 and 2011 EU's exports to Macao grew 58%. The President will also take part in the inauguration of the Chamber of Commerce EU-Macao.
President Barroso will also sign a EU-Macao Air Services Agreement, which will strengthen the regional ties between the EU and South Asia.
Ahead of the visit, President Barroso said: "I am looking forward to visit Macao on the occasion of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the EU-Macao Trade and Cooperation Agreement. This agreement embodies our commitment to the political, economic and cultural relations with Macao. We value Macao's specificity and its central role as a bridge between Asia and Europe, between China and the rest of the world. I will also stress my personal engagement to increased exchanges with Macao in trade, education, research and culture."
Read press release: President Barroso's visit to Hong Kong and Macao
President Barroso in Hong Kong: "the best is yet to come"
President José Manuel Barroso is today in Hong Kong for bilateral talks. "My visit to Hong Kong rounds off two very intensive weeks of engagement with Asia, which started in Brussels with a Summit with Korea,continuing with a visit to Mongolia and the two official Summits with Japan and China. This demonstrates how much Asia is now at the forefront of the European Union's priorities," the President said today.
This visit takes place during the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the EU Office in Hong Kong. In the afternoon, President Barroso met with hundreds of representatives of the business sector in a conference Organised by the European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.
During his presentation President Barroso presented an overview of the EU's economic situation. He also highlighted the strategic importance of the EU-Hong Kong relations.
In particular, he touched on the banking union and the EU’s political, trade and economic engagement with Asia, including mainland China and Hong Kong as major growth areas vital for the sustained economic recovery of Europe.
"I think it is fair to say that Europe has a stake in Asia's prosperity as much as Asia has a stake in Europe's prosperity".
Furthermore, President Barroso explained that yesterday, at the week's EU-China Summit, negotiations for an investment agreement were launched.
"We want to get even more out of it. With European investments in China representing only 2% of our worldwide FDI, and Chinese FDI to the European Union standing only at 1% of total inflows, there is still huge potential in this area. As our bond with Hong Kong proves, investment is a natural counterpart of trade. "
"These negotiations will remove restrictions and progressively liberalise investment, leading towards reciprocity in access for European and Chinese investors to each other's markets," he explained.
"Economic and social development go hand in hand, this is what makes Hong Kong so special and so captivating (...) and one should never doubt Europe's determination to be part of the continuous success story that is Hong Kong ", President Barroso said at the end of this session.
Read president's full speech
President Barroso visits China-EU School of Law (CESL) in Beijing
Today President Barroso visited the China-EU School of Law (CESL) in Beijing, a unique school he inaugurated in October 2008 together with Premier Li Keqiang.
CESL is the largest cooperation project between the Chinese government and the EU in the field of legal education, and it was founded with the participation of 16 universities. It is a unique project focused on China and EU legal education, research and training.
Being back five years later, President Barroso exchanged views with professor Huang Jin. Afterwards, he met a group of 40 students in a one hour Q&As session on EU-China cooperation and on the importance of the rule of law.
"People-to-people exchange is at the very heart of the EU-China cooperation. I truly appreciate your fresh dynamism and I wish you the best for your studies at this important school", the President said.
President Barroso encourages closer cooperation with China on urbanisation
Today President Barroso and China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang closed the EU-China Urbanisation Forum in Beijing.
The President of the European Commission, Mr José Manuel Barroso, joined hundreds of local and regional leaders at the EU-China Urbanisation Forum. At the closing ceremony of the Forum, the President said
"I firmly believe that the deepening of the relation between China and the European Union around the issue of urbanisation is a qualitative step forward in our relationship".
In 2012, President Barroso and Premier Li Keqiang launched the EU-China Partnership on Urbanisation which offers a natural framework for concerted actions. Since 2010 more than 150 Chinese decision makers from all 31 provincial-level regions have been able to share experiences and to visit good practices in more than 45 regions of 15 EU member states.
Today, the President of the European Commission offered closer and pragmatic cooperation on urbanisation, innovation and sustainability:
"Urbanisation is an extremely complex issue, involving dozens of different players in myriads of alternative situations. (...)We can offer our experience and our co-operation in dealing with these challenges. We can also learn with the experience of China. This is what the Urbanisation partnership is all about, seeking the best solutions in a cooperative manner for a common challenge."
Mr. Barroso pointed out that the EU and China "need to share their best experience on how to make cities liveable, friendly, resource conscious, socially fair." "This is not only something to discuss and study; it is something to act upon ", he added.
16th EU-China Summit
Today President Barroso meets Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in Beijing for the 16th EU-China Summit. It will be the first Summit with the new Chinese leadership. Yesterday he also met President Xi Jinping.
The EU and China are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and the summit sets the basis and the strategic objectives for the next decade.
During the last ten years, the EU and China have succeeded in building a solid partnership for addressing common challenges. The EU-China trade relationship, which has always been the driving force behind the partnership, has grown tremendously, having quadrupled over this time. The EU has been China's number one trading partner for the past 9 years, while China is the EU's second. But our relationship has grown far beyond trade.
"Green Growth in a Safer World" is the overarching theme of the summit. Leaders are to agree on the importance of green growth as a way to find the right balance between low-carbon and sustainable development goals with other valued outcomes such as job creation, poverty reduction, economic growth and business opportunities.
Regarding the summit deliverables, the EU and China are looking at:
- agreeing on an EU-China 2020 Agenda, a common strategy of mid-to-long term cooperation both in terms of strategic vision and concrete engagements;
- launching the negotiations for an ambitious investment agreement, covering both investment protection and market access;
- launching an Innovation Cooperation Dialogue, which allows us to make substantial progress on shaping strategic joint initiatives in specific areas of common interest.
- signing a Joint Statement on Energy Security and the EU-China Road Map on Cooperation on Energy Security, a critical achievement towards EU-China cooperation on energy;
- facilitating exchanges, including of students and researchers;
- enhancing our good cooperation in the G20 and at other multilateral fora, namely regarding climate change and development aid.
Read the press release
Read the factsheet
21st EU-Japan Summit, Tokyo
Today President Barroso attends the 21st EU-Japan Summit. Japan will be represented by Prime Minister Shinzō Abe.
The EU and Japan are not only major economic powers (accounting together for over a third of global output), but also like-minded partners promoting the same values and seeking solutions to regional and global challenges. As two of the four largest world economies, the EU and Japan have an important stake in ensuring strong, sustainable and balanced growth in the world.
The summit comes at an important new stage in EU-Japan relations. Last April the negotiations for two landmark agreements for EU-Japan relations were launched: a Strategic Partnership Agreement and a Free Trade Agreement. These two agreements lay the basis for an intense cooperation for the decades to come.
The Strategic Partnership Agreement is aimed at developing dialogue and cooperation across a wide range of political and sectoral areas. The Free Trade Agreement will further unlock growth and employment opportunities and contribute to the EU and Japan's parallel process of structural reforms in the economy.
The summit reviews progress in the negotiations and injects additional momentum towards the rapid conclusion of these agreements that will lift the EU-Japan relationship onto a higher, more strategic level. It is also an opportunity to seek convergence of views and positions on key international and regional issues.
Themes include the world economy and trade, climate change, non-proliferation and developments in our respective neighbourhoods.
Finally, the summit gives political impetus to rapidly developing sectoral cooperation that will further nurture growth and employment in the EU and Japan. The EU and Japan will also strengthen our Research and Innovation Partnership, as well as moving towards dialogues on space and cyber security.
"The free trade agreement alone could boost the EU growth by nearly 1 % and create over 400,000 additional jobs, with comparable benefits for Japan. The strategic partnership agreement will enhance our political cooperation and stimulate further our developing sectoral cooperation, including on research and innovation, energy and people-to-people links," said President Barroso ahead of the summit.
Budget 2014 – 2020: President Barroso welcomes EP consent
Today the European Parliament gave its consent to the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020, paving the way to the Council's final approval. President Barroso welcomed the vote saying that "this is a great day for Europe" and that "this deal will help every family across Europe. Europe is part of the solution."
In a video message President Barroso said: "This is a great day for Europe. The European Parliament has given its final blessing to the European budget from 2014 until 2020, thus bringing successfully an end to long negotiations. Now, the Council can seal the deal shortly. The European Union will invest almost 1 trillion euros in growth and jobs between 2014 and 2020. The EU's budget is modest in size compared to national wealth. But one single year's budget represents more money - in today's prices - than the whole Marshall plan in its time!
Our modern, future-oriented budget can make a real difference to people's lives. It will help to strengthen and sustain the recovery underway across the European Union. There is funding so we can build our way out of the crisis, financial support for those below the poverty line or looking for a job, investment opportunities for small companies, and assistance for local communities, farmers, researchers and students. This is a deal which helps every family across Europe. Europe is part of the solution."
Read the press release with the highlights
More on the figures per programme in current and 2011 prices
Taxation policy: President Barroso calls for "significant political effort"
If we want concrete results on taxation policy at the next European Council meeting, "a significant political effort will be needed from Finance Ministers", President Barroso writes in a letter to the European Council.
"As the last ECOFIN meeting showed, some of our proposals are already technically ready for adoption but do not have the necessary unanimous support from all Member States", European Commission President Barroso points out in his letter sent today to the President of the European Council, all EU Heads of State and Government and the President of the European Parliament. "If we are to be able to register concrete results in December, a significant political effort will be needed from Finance Ministers ahead of their next meeting", he urges.
90% of European citizens think effective action is needed to ensure that companies pay their fair share of taxes, recent Eurobarometer evidence shows. More fairness and more transparency in corporate taxation are precisely the key objectives of the Commission's tax proposals. Some of these proposals have been on the table since 2008 and are still awaiting adoption, President Barroso emphasizes. This is specifically the case for the Savings Tax Directive, which would close existing tax loopholes and, together with the proposal to expand the scope of the Administrative Cooperation Directive, would ensure that the EU has full automatic exchange of information from the start of 2015 for all forms of income. Other Commission proposals tackle money laundering and make beneficial ownership of companies more transparent. "The Commission will table the last of its proposals – a revision to the Parent-Subsidiary Directive to address double non-taxation of hybrid instruments – by the end of this month", the President writes.
"In May the European Council set out a clear determination to deliver a significant shift towards more fairness and more openness in corporate taxation. It is now time to get on and adopt the proposals that are on the table", President Barroso concludes.
President Barroso visits Mongolia for bilateral talks
President Barroso visited Mongolia to held bilateral talks with President Elbegdorj and Prime Minister Altankhuyag. He opened the EU Film Festival at Ulan Bator and gave a keynote speech at the National University of Mongolia, where he was awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa.
Following the EU - Mongolia Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA) signed in April this year, the President of the European Commission visited Mongolia on 17th November. This was the first visit of an EU high representative to the country.
After the meeting the leaders said that 2013 has been an important year in the development of EU-Mongolia relations. During their talks, they discussed progress achieved so far in areas including trade, development cooperation, agriculture, research and innovation and political dialogue. They also exchanged views on regional and global issues, as well as new areas of cooperation.
In his speaking points to the press, President Barroso said: "the European Union wants to be your partner in this journey". He reiterated the EU's support to Mongolia's development through concrete ways to foster cooperation, for instance in the field of education, exchanges and also research and science. "We believe that the European Union has know-how that can be shared for the benefit also of Mongolia," said President Barroso.
During his visit to Mongolia President Barroso also opened the EU Film Festival stressing in his speech that "cinema speaks a universal language. It has meaning and relevance for all people, regardless of their national, cultural or social backgrounds. Films bring diversity to the fore, while also underscoring the values, the feelings and the longings that we all share as human beings. I hope that next year, when we celebrate the 25th anniversary of EU-Mongolian relations, a similar event can be organised in Brussels with Mongolian movies for a European public."
In the evening, President Barroso delivered a lecture at the National University of Mongolia on "EU-Mongolia: Third neighbour and first class partner", where he said "The values that you have adopted as yours: democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law are the values which also underpin the European Union, the values that make us close neighbours and privileged partners, despite the geographical distance. In this respect let me praise Mongolia's decision last year to abolish the death penalty as a symbolic step on the path which you have chosen to follow."
President Barroso pointed out that "the EU has ensured that Mongolia will benefit from the international strand of Erasmus+, our university student exchange programme. Since 2004 200 students and scholars have participated in the Erasmus programme. We want to have more Mongolian students, researchers, doctorates benefiting from our scholarships and coming to Europe."
Furthermore, he said, "scientific co-operation is another field where both sides would benefit from closer co-operation and, again, we have ensured that Mongolia can participate in our new Research programme called Horizon 2020".
"Just as democracy must be tended daily, just as our economies require daily work, so day by day we will build our neighbourly relations" concluded the President, who was later on awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa.
President Barroso meets the Prime Ministers of Romania and Moldova
The meeting with Prime Ministers Victor Ponta of Romania and Lurie Leancă of the Republic of Moldova focused on the strategic issue of priority gas and electricity interconnection projects between the two countries.
The Commission is already providing both political and financial support, including €7 million towards the construction of the Iaşi-Ungheni gas interconnector pipeline, which is now underway.
"Energy security and diversity of energy supply is of the utmost importance, for our Union and our neighbours." President Barroso said. "We have identified two main projects in the short-term: Firstly, the gas projects which will enable gas deliveries from Romania all the way to Chisinau... Secondly, the back-to-back station on the Vulcanesti-Isaccea grid, which will allow Moldova to increase energy imports from Romania. Both projects can significantly increase the energy security of Moldova, by stabilising its energy supply and reducing the risk of increasing prices".
President Barroso praised Moldova and Romania's close cooperation on these issues and pledged the Commission's continued support in moving them forwards.
President Barroso urges EU to avoid reform fatigue as 2014 European Semester gets underway
The publication of the Annual Growth Survey 2014 signals the start of the fourth European Semester, the EU's policy coordination calendar. This Semester sees economic governance step up a gear with the presentation of a major package of budgetary surveillance announcements for the euro area, and for EU countries with excessive deficits.
Strengthened economic governance
"This year, budgetary coordination in the euro area has gone to a new level. This year, for the first time, Member States have sent us their draft budget plans before they are adopted," President Barroso said during a press conference after the launch of the Semester.
"This is not about the Commission trying to run national economies in place of governments," he added. "This is developing a European economic governance that respects fully the national level of governance. It is also about ensuring that what is good for individual member states is good for the European Union as a whole."
Focus on reform for growth and jobs
This year's Annual Growth Survey (AGS) shows that growth is returning, and emphasises the need to sustain and strengthen that recovery by pursuing reform efforts and avoiding reform fatigue.
The European Commission has kept the same five overarching priorities that were identified in the AGS 2013, but recommended a visible shift in emphasis to reflect the new challenges the EU will face during this recovery phase.
"We have come a long way since the start of the crisis and many of our citizens have had to make huge sacrifices to get us to this point," President Barroso said. "And thanks to the efforts they have made, we have now entered a recovery phase. We must ensure that our efforts translate into stronger growth that generates jobs. The best way – I would say the only way - to do that is to pursue our reform efforts, avoiding reform fatigue."
The Draft Joint Employment Report, which accompanies the AGS, shows that the unemployment situation, while stabilising, is still at unacceptably high levels. "We must not put into jeopardy what has been achieved so far," President Barroso said. "This will be the way to address in a sustainable manner the biggest problem we are still facing: unemployment, especially of the young."
Towards a balanced recovery
Alongside the Annual Growth Survey 2014, the Commission has published its Alert Mechanism Report, an early warning system for potential imbalances. This year's AMR recommends a review of economic policies in 16 countries, three of them, for the first time: Germany, Luxembourg and Croatia.
President Barroso pointed out during his press conference that these reviews do not necessarily mean that there is an imbalance, and that they should not be taken as a sign that the Commission is questioning competitiveness, particularly in Germany. "The real problem for Europe is not that Germany is very competitive - this is indeed a major asset for the economy of Europe as a whole. The problem is much more that others are still far away from that level of competitiveness," the President said.
Président Barroso participe à la 2ème Conférence européenne sur l'emploi des jeunes
Après une première rencontre à Berlin, en juillet, les chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement, les ministres du Travail, les hauts représentants des institutions de l'UE et les partenaires sociaux se sont réunis mardi à Paris pour discuter la mise en œuvre des mesures concrètes de la lutte contre le chômage des jeunes.
La Commission européenne a pris plusieurs initiatives pour compléter et soutenir les actions menées au plan national.
Le Président Barroso a appelé les Etats membres à plus de détermination pour tirer tout le potentiel des différents leviers permettant de lutter contre le chômage et notamment pour mettre en place les structures nécessaires pour faire de la Garantie Jeunesse une réalité dès que possible.
"Il n'y a pas de chose plus urgente aujourd'hui que de faire en sorte que l'on puisse offrir à notre jeunesse de réelles perspectives d'avenir", a dit le Président.
7th EU-Republic of Korea Summit
The 7th EU-Republic of Korea Summit took place in Brussels today. President José Manuel Barroso represented the EU together with the President of the European Council. South Korea was represented by President Park Geun-Hye.
Today's summit marked 50 years of diplomatic relations between the EU and the Republic of Korea. The leaders adopted a joint declaration highlighting past developments in EU- Republic of Korea relations and affirming their willingness to encourage its further development.
Korea was the first G20 country with which the EU concluded a Framework Agreement and a second generation free trade agreement.
"The Free Trade Agreement, now two years old, continues to be a driving force for our cooperation. The European Union is now the largest foreign investor in the Republic Of Korea. And our trade in goods with South Korea has significantly increased", President Barroso said today.
Over the last decade, EU28 exports to South Korea have more than doubled, from 17.7 billion euro in 2002 to a peak of 37.8 bn in 2012, according to Eurostat.
President Barroso highlighted the Republic of Korea's and the EU's common interest to step up cooperation in innovation, science and technology. "We share the same view that prosperity in the long term needs to come from new sources of growth", he said.
The European Commission and the government of the Republic of Korea today signed an agreement to enhance cooperation in higher education. President Barroso explained that "Universities and research institutions in the EU and the Republic of Korea will run more joint degrees and mobility programmes. These measures will further boost student exchanges and joint research over the coming years".
The summit also addressed new areas of cooperation. "Our agreement on global navigation satellite cooperation is nearly fully ratified, allowing this to come on stream shortly", said President Barroso. Cyberspace cooperation, "a crucial ingredient for the creative economy, for individuals and SMEs, to blossom and grow", was discussed as well.
The EU and Korea want to further develop their partnership beyond the bilateral context. Economic recovery, climate change, the new framework for sustainable development in a world post-2015, and regionally based security threats were also on the agenda. On this last issue, President Barroso said "we appreciate Korea's commitment to regional stability, through the East Asia initiative and Korea's 'trust politik' vis à vis its neighbours" and he gave "full support for a safe, secure and denuclearised Korean peninsula".
European Commission meets the Portuguese government
The College of Commissioners received today a delegation of the Portuguese government, led by Prime Minister Passos Coelho. Discussions focused on the Portuguese adjustment programme and the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union. The EU's industrial policy and the competitiveness agenda, as well as the next EU budget, were also on the table.
President Barroso assured Prime Minister Passos Coelho of the European Commission's continuous support to Portugal during the crisis. He said that measures such as extension of deadlines, lower interest rates and a better use of structural funds, have already eased the impact of the country's adjustment programme.
The President also congratulated the Portuguese government on its efforts to complete the adjustment programme and to bring the country onto its right path. The reform programme is a necessary precondition for a sustainable return to the markets.
For the first time in two years, the Portuguese economy has grown, reaching +1,1% of growth in the second trimester of the 2013. In its autumn forecast the Commission confirmed that Portugal's GDP in 2013 has fallen less than expected. Portugal is also gaining market share in exports for the third consecutive year. "We can’t put at risk everything we have achieved", the President said.
Unemployment is still a major concern, the President noted. The President also mentioned modernisation of the Portuguese industry, specifically the creation of new companies, led by younger and more qualified entrepreneurs.
President Barroso believes that Portugal will come out of the crisis stronger. Growth, the President said, has to be grounded on structural reforms and less on external debt. He also emphasised the fact that Portugal needs to regain confidence, proving that the country is able to meet its obligations. For that purpose, a broad political and social consensus is essential.
Competitiveness reforms were also discussed. For the European Commission the financing of the economy is a priority, as access to credit remains too limited. The deepening of the EMU and measures to fight unemployment and create new jobs were also discussed.
The President announced that Portugal is set to benefit from 19.6 billion euros for investment in the frame of the EU budget for 2014-2020.
Meeting representatives from philosophical and non-confessional organisations
Today European Commission President Barroso hosts a 9th meeting with around twenty representatives from philosophical and non-confessional organisations in the Commission's headquarters in Brussels. This high-level meeting, taking place in the context of the European Year of Citizens 2013, was called under the motto 'Putting citizens at the heart of the European project in times of change'.
After the meeting, at 13:30, Commission President Barroso, European Council President Van Rompuy and Vice-President of the European Parliament Surján will hold a joint press conference which will be transmitted live on EbS.
For more information on the European Commission's dialogue with philosophical and non-confessional organisations and churches, religious communities, visit: http://ec.europa.eu/bepa/activities/outreach-team/dialogue/index_en.htm.
Information on the European Year of Citizens 2013 is available on the dedicated website.
President Barroso holds the "First Frankfurt speech on Europe"
On Tuesday, 5th November, President Barroso held the "First Frankfurt speech on Europe" in St. Paul's Church in Frankfurt. He stressed that the European Union is first and foremost a community of values.
President Barroso highlighted that the current financial and economic crisis is a political stress test for the European community and that its solution will depend primarily on the European leaders' political will.
Acknowledging Germany's efforts towards securing and maintaining solidarity in the EU, he also stressed that continued efforts for solidarity and responsibility are essential. "Germany, under the leadership of Chancellor Merkel, has shown its political will and this deserves its full recognition." President Barroso welcomed the commitment of Germany's main political forces: "My message to you is very simple: Keep it. Do not allow any doubts to emerge."
He furthermore encouraged the next German government to remain committed to the European project: "Germany will have to play an imminently crucial role in all this. Being the biggest economy in the Euro Area and the EU as a whole, Germany will have to assume the highest degree of leadership for this endeavour".
"Culture is the thread that links us together"
On Monday morning President Barroso participated at the opening of the 3rd edition of the European Culture Forum at the BOZAR Art in Brussels. In his keynote speech he said that "culture is the cement that binds Europe together. It is an essential part of the very foundations of our European project and must remain firmly entrenched in our ideals if we are to succeed in achieving a more united, stronger and open Europe."
President Barroso explained that the culture and creative industries account for up to 4.5% of the European GDP and for more than 8 million jobs, which have been resisting the financial crisis better than other sectors of our economies.
He added that the Commission has proposed a budget for the new Creative Europe programme of €1.8 billion. The agreed budget stands at 1.46 billion, which represents 9% increase of the current funding levels.
President Barroso's tribute to Tadeusz Mazowiecki, a great Pole and European
On Sunday 3 November President Barroso attended the state funeral of Tadeusz Mazowiecki, former prime minister of Poland. He joined the mourners in Warsaw to personally pay his tribute to Mr Mazowiecki and "to thank this great Pole and European for what he did to build a new, democratic Poland and for his contribution to a new and re-unified Europe".
The President recalled that Mr Mazowiecki was the first non-communist to head an Eastern Bloc nation since the late 1940s, "even before the fall of the Berlin wall, which became the world famous symbol of European unification and of the end of the Yalta order."
"Not many remember that on the day when the wall was falling in Berlin, the German chancellor Helmut Kohl was meeting in Warsaw with Tadeusz Mazowiecki", the President said.
He highlighted Mr Mazowiecki's role in the transition to democracy in Central and Eastern Europe:
"It is well known that Mazowiecki was one of the architects of the now famous "round table" talks. But he was more than that: he left his strong mark on the Polish model of transition from a communist authoritarian regime to a free, democratic state system with a market economy. It was a revolution. But Mazowiecki was not at all a revolutionary", he said.
"The model of transformation that he defended was based on mediation, negotiation, consensus and political long-sightedness. Today we can say that Mazowiecki was a typically centrist politician, which is a position in the political spectrum I understand very well. He chose a path of wisdom and moderation for Poland, which proved the most effective", President Barroso added.
"It is worth reminding people in Europe today that the Poland's peaceful transition to liberty, democracy and European values became a real textbook case for all of the emerging democracies in Eastern and Central Europe. Mazowiecki’s contribution to European democracy and to the unity of Europe is unforgettable", the President said.
He also mentioned Mr Mazowiecki's engagement both as an intellectual and a politician: "Mazowiecki knew how to combine in one person two approaches that are usually very difficult to reconcile: he was an intellectual and an active politician. Like Geremek, like Havel, he proved that it was possible to serve the common interest by marrying the intellectual pursuit of truth and justice with the determination and astuteness required for effective political action", President Barroso said.
"This is precisely what we need today in Europe: to have a long-term vision of European integration and to find a new narrative for this European project that has no equivalent anywhere in the world", the President said.
The President also brought up Mr Mazowiecki's work in the former Yugoslavia and his determination to defend European values:
"Mazowiecki was a great defender of the values that are so dear to Europe and a promoter of a certain idea of human solidarity and political responsibility. Not only in Poland, not only in the EU. For a lot of people in Europe his name remains linked to his mission as a high representative at the United Nations for the former Yugoslavia. After the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, he resigned from his mandate to protest against the passiveness of the international community when it came to the violation of human rights and humanitarian law", President Barroso said.
"For Mazowiecki, the promises made to people cannot be broken, values cannot be betrayed. Coming from Poland, he refused to accept the views of some that what was happening in former Yugoslavia, in Srebrenica, was a marginal, rather exotic political problem on a world scale", he added.
President Barroso said that, today, Slovenia and Croatia, two states of the former Yugoslavia are members of the European Union and that negotiations are ongoing with others. "I remember Mazowiecki saying that there is nothing real about ‘realpolitik’. I keep it also in mind when the decisions are taken about Syria, about Lampedusa", he said.
He recalled his last meeting with Mr Mazowiecki, at the citizens' dialogue in Warsaw, on 11 July 2013, when he received a message to take back to Brussels. "When I met Tadeusz Mazowiecki last time, he wished that Europeans took a greater sense of shared responsibility for Europe. He also asked me to take from Poland to Brussels the message of optimism", the President said. "He was very right: two essential things we need in Europe are a greater sense of shared responsibility and more confidence, more optimism for our common future, our European destiny."