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New Narrative for Europe: Artists, intellectuals and scientists stand up for Europe

On Saturday 1 March, in the presence of President Barroso and Chancellor Merkel, artists, scientists and intellectuals unveiled the final declaration on the "New Narrative for Europe". It mobilises the cultural world and citizens for Europe andl outlines why Europe matters and why we have to fight for Europe and against nationalism and populism.

03/03/2014

President Barroso

The declaration with the title "The Mind and Body of Europe " contains the following main messages: 

- "As artists, intellectuals and scientists, and first and foremost as citizens, it is our responsibility to join the debate on the future of Europe, especially now, when so much is at stake. Confidence in Europe needs to be regained. In light of the current global trends, the values of human dignity and democracy must be reaffirmed.

- Populist and nationalist narratives must not prevail.

- The "Mind and Body of Europe" is our response to the call of the European Parliament and of the President of the European Commission to draft a new narrative for Europe for all citizens. This document is not a point of arrival. Rather it is a catalyst that we hope will trigger more contributions to the debate."

Thanking those who have contributed to the New Narrative for Europe, President Barroso said: "Your declaration unveiled today is your act of faith in Europe. It does not say that our Europe is perfect. But it says that Europe is our future."

In his speech, President Barroso also reminded of the walls that have been torn down and the bridges built to forge a new type of Union: "Today the "raison d'être" of our Union is also the same that was there sixty years ago: peace, democracy, to be freed from fears, mistrust and divisions, to share security, stability and prosperity. But why do we speak about a new narrative? […] I believe that while keeping those values that were at the origin of the European integration immediately after the war, there is a new narrative: Europe is indispensable for us as countries and citizens to be able to defend our interests and promote our values in this globalising world. […] The important thing is how can we react to it and how can we try shape it with our values. This is what matters."

He also appealed to the audience, saying "that together we are stronger to embrace the challenges of an ever-changing world while holding back some demons. Populism, xenophobia, extreme nationalism, all these demons we have been fighting are now pushing back."

Background: The declaration "The Mind and Body of Europe" defines Europe as a state of mind, as a moral and political responsibility shared by citizens across the continent. This project is rooted in its shared values of peace, freedom, democracy and rule of law. The Declaration reminds that multitudes of people are attracted to Europe by its common values and principles; they are encouraged by Europe’s achievements and solidarity. The second section of the Declaration recalls the Europe’s evolving narrative in the last century, materialized in three historical moments: the end of the war; the fall of the Iron Curtain and the burst of the bubble. The final section appeals on a new renaissance which meets cosmopolitanism. The text reminds that Europe as political body need sciences and arts; needs also its cultural heritage to develop a new cosmopolitanism. To achieve this Europe, states the Declaration needs brave political leaders, a committed civil society and citizens raising their voices to take part in the European debate to share their stories and concerns.

Download the declaration on the New Narrative for Europe

Full speech of President Barroso

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A New Narrative for Europe

Further information available in the European Commission's Top News

President Barroso travels to Nigeria

On 26th and 27th of February 2014, President Barroso is travelling to Nigeria to attend the country's Centenary Celebrations in Abuja together with 30 world leaders.

26/02/2014

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President José Manuel Barroso is travelling to Nigeria where he will join some 30 world leaders at the country's Centenary Celebrations in Abuja. The event is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the unification of northern and southern Nigeria, creating Africa's most populous country and the seventh most populous country in the world.

President Barroso delivers a speech on "Human Security, Peace and Development – Agenda for 21st Century Africa" in a conference hosted by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, in which he told the audience:

“The European Union is Nigeria’s largest trading partner accounting for 35.4% of its exports, worth 82.4 billion euros and 30% of its imports, worth 43.4 billion euros. Nigeria is already the 4th supplier of oil to Europe and the 6th supplier of natural gas. Nigeria is also one of the most frequent destinations of European investment and businessmen in Africa. In addition we have a long and positive tradition of working with the government of Nigeria to increase economic growth and expand social equity. Over the past six years, European Development Funding came to nearly €700 million (or around 150 billion Naira) aimed in particular at helping to improve access to water and health services, supporting post-crisis reconciliation and security in the South and strengthened governance, making peace and security more sustainable.”

President Barroso and President Goodluck Jonathan also meet for bilateral talks: the EU and Nigeria cooperate closely to improve the socio-economic development of Nigeria. In 2009, this commitment was formalised in form of the “Nigeria EU Joint Way Forward ”, and discussions are ongoing between the European Union and the Government of Nigeria to finalise the priority sectors of cooperation for the 11th European development Fund.

EU-Nigeria cooperation

Delegation of the EU to Nigeria and ECOWAS

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President Barroso welcomes creation of new group to study EU's own resources

President Barroso has welcomed the creation of a new inter-institutional group that will look into new ways to finance the EU budget. 

25/02/2014

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President Barroso has welcomed the creation of a new inter-institutional group that will look into new ways to finance the EU budget.

The High level Group on own resources was formally established in Strasbourg on 25 February by President Barroso, European Parliament President Martin Schulz and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (representing the Council).

It will be chaired by former Italian Prime minister and EU Commissioner Mario Monti, with other members appointed by the three EU institutions.

"This is our joint aim with this group: to make revenue collection more simple, fairer, transparent and democratically accountable," President Barroso said.

"The Commission's proposals for the 2014-20 budget already included new and simpler ways of financing the EU's important work, including a financial transaction tax and a more modern VAT-based resource. We also suggested how to simplify the complicated rebate mechanisms for a number of Member States," he said. "I believe there is scope to further explore these ideas, and others, within the group's mandate."

The Group was set up on the back of an agreement last year between the institutions during the negotiations on the EU's multiannual financial framework (MFF 2014-20) and will issue a first assessment at the end of 2014. National parliaments will assess the outcome of the group's work in 2016, and the conclusions drawn from that assessment will determine whether the Commission will make a proposal to improve the own resources system.

Read President Barroso's full speech at the launch of the group

Q&A on the group and the EU's own resources system

Watch the press conference on the launch of the group

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EU-BRAZIL SUMMIT, 24 February 2014

On 24 February 2014, the 7th EU-Brazil Summit takes place in Brussels. The EU is represented by President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, as well as Vice-President of the European Commission Tajani. Brazil will be represented by President Dilma Rousseff, and she will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Figueiredo.

24/02/2014

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The relationship between the EU and Brazil has grown increasingly since the establishment of the Strategic Partnership in July 2007. Cooperation was intensified via high-level political exchanges on issues of common interest concerning economies, global challenges and foreign policy positions in the world.

President Barroso said: "Our strategic partnership with Brazil has come a long way since the 2007 Lisbon Summit. Since then we have been expanding our dialogue on political, economic and sectorial issues, such as education and research. Brazil is a like-minded partner with which we share many common interests. We want to build on these commonalities and cooperate more on how to handle climate change, define ways for sustainable development, respect human rights, and promote global trade and international security."

The 7th EU-Brazil Summit, held in Brussels on 24 February 2014, touches upon all topics relevant, including trade relations, the ongoing negotiations on the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement and co-operation on sectorial policies (amongst others competitiveness and investment, research, technology and innovation, transport and infrastructure). In this context President Barroso said: "The Summit is an important occasion to confirm our joint commitment to an ambitious and balanced EU-Mercosur agreement. Our bilateral economic relationship can be an important driver for growth and jobs on the two sides, and I look forward to confirm our agreement on the Action Plan on Competitiveness and Investment, whose idea I launched on the occasion of our previous Summit."

The second part of the meeting will be dedicated to foreign and security policy as well as global challenges, such as international cyber policy and internet governance, climate change, energy policies and sustainable development, drug trafficking and related crime.

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President Barroso meets French, German and EU business leaders to discuss competitiveness

President Barroso has said the keys to boosting competitiveness are EU policies on industry, energy, trade and employment, coupled with continued reforms at national level.

20/02/2014

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President Barroso has said the keys to boosting competitiveness are EU policies on industry, energy, trade and employment, coupled with continued reforms at national level.

He made the comments ahead of a joint meeting with French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT) in Paris on 19 February.

President Barroso said that although the economic situation had improved in the past year, there was still a lot to do to bring down high unemployment in Europe.

"We have to do more for growth and jobs," President Barroso said, describing four "levers" at EU level that can help European companies compete on the world stage: industrial policy, climate and energy policy, trade policy and employment policy.

He also welcomed the outcome of a Franco-German ministerial meeting earlier in the day, particularly on the issue of digital technologies.

"When it comes to industrial policy, the Commission has launched the idea of an industrial renaissance in Europe, with concrete targets, which is also linked to our digital agenda," President Barroso said. "There is more and more integration between our digital capacity - everything that has to do with new technology, information and communications technology - and our industrial capacity."

He thanked President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel for their support for the EU's new 2030 climate and energy targets, which he said would "reduce costs to competitiveness" for businesses. He also said the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the EU's support for Youth Guarantees were important to boost growth and jobs.

He finished by saying that it was crucial for investor and consumer confidence to continue the reform effort at national level.

"Today we see in the international press how countries like Ireland and Portugal are becoming the new stars of the reform effort. But it is not only for countries that were or still are under assistance programmes to make the effort, it's for the entire EU," he said, welcoming recent reforms to improve competitiveness in France and Germany.

"Confidence is an essential variable for growth," President Barroso concluded. "I believe that with the engagement of governments and businesses, Europe can hope for a more ambitious recovery than previously thought."

Read President Barroso's statement to the press before the ERT meeting

Watch President Barroso's statement to the press before the ERT meeting

President Barroso receives Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka

During a meeting today, President Barroso and Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka discussed the new Czech government and its agenda of reinforcing relations with the European Union. They also touched upon the upcoming European Council in March as well as the situation in Ukraine.

20/02/2014

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Following a meeting today with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "I believe Prime Minister Sobotka's taking up office marks a new start. He and his government are pushing the reset button on many fronts, and of course in relation to the European Union. The Czech Republic is taking back its role as an active and constructive member of our European family."

During the meeting, the upcoming European Council in March was being discussed which the President called "important step in co-ordinating our economic policies", as well as the situation in Ukraine.

President Barroso said: "As you know, the situation is very difficult and remains extremely volatile. The immediate and urgent priority is to avoid further bloodshed and save human lives. This is also the message I conveyed yesterday to President Yanukovych. The authorities have a special responsibility in ensuring it and demonstrators also need to keep the peaceful nature of the protests. An immediate end to the violence and a meaningful dialogue, responding to democratic aspirations of the people of Ukraine is the only way to solve the political and institutional crisis. As you know, the European Union has been offering its sincere assistance to facilitate dialogue and de-escalate the situation. We have also reiterated our offer of political association and economic integration. But what we have to do now, the most immediate thing is to put an end to violence, violence to stop as soon as possible. We cannot forget the images of the last days and the tragic deaths and injuries of so many people. This is why the Foreign Affairs Council will meet today to discuss the adoption of targeted measures against those responsible for violence and use of excessive force. We will continue engaged and committed to a political, democratic and peaceful solution of the situation in Ukraine together with our international partners.

And I am happy to see that there is now a broad consensus among our Member States in the way to deal with this issue. Just yesterday during a meeting with important delegation of business leaders, I spoke about these matters with President Hollande of France and Chancellor Merkel of Germany and, in fact, I have understood how deep is also their commitment to find a peaceful solution and today in the meeting with Prime Minister Sobotka, I have seen the same concerns and determination."

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Statement by President Barroso on Ukraine

"It was with shock and utter dismay that we have been watching developments over the last 24 hours in Ukraine. There are no circumstances that can legitimise or justify such scenes. We extend our deepest condolences to the victims and their families." Read the full statement.

19/02/2014

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"It was with shock and utter dismay that we have been watching developments over the last 24 hours in Ukraine. There are no circumstances that can legitimise or justify such scenes. We extend our deepest condolences to the victims and their families. We condemn in the strongest terms the use of violence as a way to solve a political and institutional crisis. It is the political leadership of the country that has a responsibility to ensure the necessary protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. We call on all sides to immediately put an end to the violence and engage into a meaningful dialogue, responding to the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people.

The EU has been offering its sincere assistance to facilitate political dialogue between the sides and de-escalate the situation. We continue to believe that constitutional reform, formation of a new inclusive government and creating conditions for democratic elections constitute the only way-out of this deep and long-lasting political crisis. We have made it clear we stand ready to support Ukraine on this road of reforms, towards democracy, stability and prosperity. We have made it clear that our offer of political association and economic integration remains on the table, and does not constitute the final goal in our cooperation.

Yet, we have also made it clear that the EU will respond to any deterioration on the ground. We therefore expect that targeted measures against those responsible for violence and use of excessive force can be agreed by our Member States as a matter of urgency, as proposed by the High Representative / Vice President."

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President Barroso meets with leaders of the American Jewish Committee (AJC)

Today President Barroso meets with the leaders of the American Jewish Committee (ACJ) to discuss EU-Israel bilateral relations.

18/02/2014

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Established in 1906, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) is one of the oldest Jewish advocacy organizations in the United States, and established an office in Brussels in 2004.

This meeting takes place just before the 10th anniversary of this "Transatlantic Institute" in Brussels, which aims "to strengthen the transatlantic bond and foster dialogue between the US and the EU on issues of mutual concern in the fields of global security, Middle East peace, and human rights." 

During this courtesy visit, President Barroso and his visitors are discussing EU-Israel bilateral relations in general, as well as the mutual commitment to fighting anti-Semitism in all its forms.

http://www.ajc.org/

President Barroso at the ESPAS Conference: On analysing global trends and their implications for the European Union

Today, President Barroso participated in an 'In Conversation' session at the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System conference (ESPAS).

18/02/2014

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Under the title "Global Trends 2030:  Key Challenges Ahead for the European Union", the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) has organised a two-day conference on 17 and 18 February 2014 in Brussels devoted to some of the key questions Europe could address in the coming years.  The conference focuses on the future of the European economy, on Europe's response to resource scarcity and Europe's role in an increasingly polycentric world.

President Barroso participated this morning in one-hour 'In Conversation' session of the conference, moderated by John Peet, the Europe Editor of the Economist. He congratulated the organisers and said "I particularly appreciate the intensive co-operation that has developed among the participating organisations in the ESPAS project. Sharing insights and diagnosing challenges across the institutions is something the Union needs to do more of in the years to come. This will contribute to shaping a common strategic basis across the European Union institutions as a catalyst for a more effective policy making process."

Full speech available on RAPID

Conference Programme available online.

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President Barroso participates in The Andrew Marr Show

On 16th February 2014, President Barroso participated in the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show.

16/02/2014

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On 16th February 2014, President Barroso participated in the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show, to answer a series of questions which have been dominating the British public sphere.

In answer to a question on the possibility of renegotiating the free movement of people, President Barroso answered: "We have to make a clear distinction. One thing is freedom of movement - I don't think it is possible to renegotiate. It's a fundamental principle of the internal market. We have an internal market based on freedom of movement, goods, services, capital and people. The British people, the British companies, have unrestricted access to the internal market. So I don't think it's possible. But to fight against abuse of the freedom of movement, this is certainly possible. In fact we have already now reinforced the rules, so we are tough against abuse, the so called social tourism. That is a legitimate concern that we can address, but without putting in question – and there we have to be very firm – the extremely important principle as freedom of movement, that, by the way, is as important for Britain as the internal market is."

On an eventual British referendum pushing for a change of the EU treaties: "The reforms of the treaties are extremely difficult in the EU, because they require unanimity. So any point that Britain wants to make for a reform of the treaty requires the other 27 countries – they are sovereign countries as well – to accept. And by the same way, any reforms the others want to make require also Britain to accept. I think if there is goodwill, if there is intelligence on all sides, it is possible, provided there is not an attempt to put in question the basic principles of our union and the integrity of our union. Because the challenge is precisely that one: we need to have a deepening of the internal market – and from that point of view I have to say that the British government and Prime Minister Cameron himself they have been very supportive, because they understand perfectly well that is also in the interest of Britain, and indeed in the interest of the world to have financial stability. But at the same time, to deepen the euro area, we should keep the integrity of the single market so that British citizens and companies continue to have access to the internal market, which represents, according to the estimates of the British government, 90 billion pounds per year for the British economy. So it's extremely important not to put that at risk."

The Andrew Marr Show (16/02/2014)

Transcript of the interview produced by the BBC

President Barroso discusses Moldova with President Băsescu of Romania

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso met today with the Romanian President Traian Băsescu. The main topic of their meeting was Moldova, in particular the EU's commitment to sign the Association Agreement with Moldova.

03/11/2013

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"Last November, at the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit, the commitment was made to sign the Association Agreement with Moldova as soon as possible (…). This is a very important signal we are sending. The Agreement will be a real breakthrough in terms of Moldova's European path. Together with European reforms, it will strengthen the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova", President Barroso said at the press point with President Băsescu.

The two Presidents also talked about Romania's economic situation. "I made clear to President Băsescu that the Commission remains strongly committed to supporting the necessary reforms in Romania through – amongst others – the new Balance of Payments programme and the Country-specific recommendations", the President stressed.

 The progress still to be made by Romania regarding the independence of the judiciary and the implementation of anti-corruption measures, as highlighted in the Commission's latest Cooperation and verification mechanism report, were also discussed.

President Barroso also commented on the free movement of citizens: "You cannot have a single market without freedom of movement", he added. "Of course, we will work hard with Member States to tackle abuse, but – and I say this very clearly – the core principle of free movement of citizens must not be called into question".

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President Barroso speaks at the London School of Economics

On the 14th of February 2014, President Barroso held a speech at the London School of Economics about "Reforming Europe in a changing world".

14/02/2014

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During a speech held on the 14th of February 2014 at the London School of Economics, President Barroso touched upon European integration, better regulation, and issues like trade and the free movement of people. He reminded the audience that "European integration has been and remains one of our best tools to manage and benefit from globalisation". The speech, entitled "Reforming Europe in a changing world", stressed the importance of debate as the President explained that "Flexibility is necessary. That does not mean we should move to a Europe à la carte, nor would it be right to put into question our shared values and principles". President Barroso also addressed the so-called "British question" and said: "The European Union would not have become what it is today if it weren't for British politicians and entrepreneurs, British thinkers and British ideas. Without the UK, Europe would be less reform-driven, less open, and less international. Less effective as a tool for managing and benefitting from globalisation. For a country so open to the world, it's a paradox that the UK remains so torn on Europe". He continued by saying that "The European Union is not some diktat forced upon Member States. It is created by Member States to work with and for them and promote our shared European interest at home and in dealing with the rest of the world. The UK, which is very good at selling its views and promoting its interests in the European Union, is a lot stronger as a result of it", and finished by stating: "When it comes to the British question […] the British people can decide for themselves. My very personal, very strong conviction is that the EU is better off with the UK, and the UK is better off in the European Union".

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President Barroso and Prime Minister Rutte discuss EU priorities

President Barroso has congratulated Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his government for helping to steer the Netherlands and Europe through the crisis, with both agreeing that EU member states should keep up the reform momentum.

13/02/2014

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President Barroso has congratulated Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his government for helping to steer the Netherlands and Europe through the crisis, with both agreeing that EU member states should keep up the reform momentum.

During a meeting at the European Commission in Brussels on 13 February, the two leaders also discussed the division of competences between the EU and its member states, and how EU leaders should engage with citizens ahead of the upcoming European Parliament elections.

Economy

"I commended Prime Minister Rutte and his coalition for the central part they played in steering the Dutch economy through the worst of this crisis" President Barroso told the gathered press on 13 February, following his meeting with Prime Minister Rutte. "A very open and dynamic economy at the heart of the EU and its internal market such as the Netherlands is in a good position to benefit from the pick-up that is now underway," he added.

The two leaders agreed that the best way to strengthen the recovery is to keep up the reform momentum. "To boost growth and bring down high unemployment, Mark Rutte and I agreed that we must keep doing everything we can to maintain sound public finances and make our economies fitter – that is, reforms for increased competitiveness," President Barroso said, congratulating Mr Rutte for the important reforms already agreed in The Netherlands.

Elections

President Barroso said that the priority at EU level was to agree on a Single Resolution Mechanism for banks before the European Parliament elections in May. "The Netherlands has consistently supported deeper integration in the euro area, and the Banking Union in particular, for which I am very grateful," he said.

With the upcoming elections in mind, President Barroso urged national politicians to "leave their comfort zones" and be honest with citizens about the benefits of the EU. "I think we must explain to citizens why Member States have entrusted Europe with certain tasks and competences, and how we are working together to make the European Union more efficient – which is, of course, in all of our interests," President Barroso said. "We have to be honest, we cannot now undo the European project," he added. "What we have to do is to review the legislation in a way that makes it lighter, cheaper and, of course, more business- and citizen-friendly," he said, adding that this would be a "joint effort" between the EU and member states. "Making our Union better is not something that only happens in Brussels."

President Barroso said that there was "a lot still to achieve" before the elections, and thanked Prime Minister Rutte for his "excellent cooperation and his commitment to ensuring the Netherlands continues to play its rightful role at the heart of Europe".

Watch a video of the press point with President Barroso and Prime Minister Rutte

Read President Barroso's statement at the press point following his meeting with Prime Minister Rutte

President Barroso hails the success of the Tunisian constitutional project

Today, President Barroso received the President of the National Assembly of Tunisia, Mr. Ben Jaafar. They discussed the democratic transition in Tunisia and relations between the EU and Tunisia.

12/02/2014

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The visit of President Jaafar to Brussels followed the adoption of a new Tunisian Constitution and appointment of a new government.

President Barroso took this opportunity to hail the success of the constitutional project, and in particular its inclusive nature. He also encouraged the continuing efforts towards democratic transition as well as the progress made on the macro-economic, social and security strategies.

The EU supports Tunisia through macro-financial assistance and proposals for deepening relations between the EU and the country. In terms of trade, the establishment of a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with Tunisia remains the main objective of the EU.

Meeting with WTO Director-General Azevêdo

European Commission President Barroso met WTO Director-General Azevêdo to discuss trade matters.

12/02/2014

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After the meeting, President Barroso emphasized the EU's strong commitment to the multilateral trading system. "The European Commission made a very important contribution to the successful WTO ministerial in Bali and I congratulated Ambassador Azevêdo on the decisive role he played in brokering that agreement.", said President Barroso. "The expansion of trade opportunities remains one of the main sources of global growth. That is why trade is an integral part of the EU's agenda for bolstering economic growth and creating jobs." 

President Barroso and Ambassador Azevêdo also exchanged views on trade issues in the context of the G20, and on the Free Trade Agreements the EU is currently negotiating.

Press Release

Report shows how EU emerged from recession in 2013

Last year was the year Europe's efforts to beat the crisis finally began to pay off, the General Report on the EU's activities for 2013 has found.

11/02/2014

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Some of the EU's achievements over the last year include adopting rules to tighten up budgetary coordination in the euro area (Two Pack laws), agreeing on a Single Supervisory Mechanism for banks, adopting an ambitious seven-year budget (the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-20) and coming up with new ways to tackle high youth unemployment – including through a youth guarantee and a €6 billion fund at EU level.

"In 2013 we see that our efforts have started to pay off," President Barroso wrote in a foreword to the report. "For Europe, recovery is within sight," he added. "Laying the foundations of a renewed Union of stability and responsibility, growth and solidarity is a long, complex and at times painful process. But we are making steady progress, at both the European and the national level."

The EU also played a strong role in addressing global issues in 2013, including bringing about a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme, maintaining a political dialogue in Syria and strengthening stability and democracy in Europe’s neighbourhood, both in north Africa and in eastern Europe. Last year also saw an EU-facilitated agreement between Kosovo and Serbia that opened the door to a normalisation of their relations. And 2013 was the year the EU began historic and wide-ranging talks on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US.

"There is still a lot of work to be done to put our economies firmly back on track, to significantly reverse the trend of unemployment, to ensure a properly functioning economic and monetary union with a stronger social dimension and to enhance our Union’s democratic legitimacy and accountability," President Barroso said, adding that Europe would shows its "will to act, to shape our destiny, to rise to the challenge over and over again".

Background

The General Report on the Activities of the European Union is published every year, and illustrates the actions undertaken by the European institutions and the most important developments and achievements of the European Union in the preceding year. The Report is available online in PDF and e-book versions in 23 languages or can be ordered in hard copy from the EU bookshop .

General Report on the EU's activities for 2013

Report is available online in PDF and e-book versions in 23 languages

President Barroso received the Minister-President of Niedersachsen, Stephan Weil

Today President Barroso received the minister-president of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Stephan Weil, and the vice minister-president and minister for the environment, energy and climate, Stefan Wezel.

11/02/2014

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President Barroso received the minister-president of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Stephan Weil, and the vice minister-president and minister for the environment, energy and climate, Stefan Wezel.

The discussion centred on the EU's climate and energy policies. President Barroso explained the Commission's proposal for an EU's energy and climate policy framework for 2030, which strikes a balance between ambition, including on renewables, and the need to maintain and increase the competitiveness of European industry.

He also outlined the rationale of the Commission's current state aid investigation regarding the German renewable energy act (EEG - see press release of 18 December 2013), underlining that its outcome cannot be prejudged. He referred to the Commission's critical role in ensuring a level playing field for companies in the Single Market and reassured minister-president Weil that the Commission is aware of German concerns.

He finally praised Germany for its commitment to energy transition and emphasised that the EU's climate and energy policies are conducive to it.

EU statement on the agreement reached by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders

The EU welcomes the agreement announced by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders on a Joint Declaration.

11/02/2014

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President Barroso and President Van Rompuy made the following statement:

"The European Union welcomes the agreement announced today by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders on a Joint Declaration, which lays a solid foundation for resumption of negotiations for a fair and viable comprehensive settlement of the long-standing Cyprus problem. This Joint Declaration should help them to swiftly address matters of substance and to achieve rapid results in the negotiations. President Barroso and President Van Rompuy congratulate and salute the courage the two leaders have shown in agreeing it.

At the time of accession of Cyprus, the European Union declared its readiness to accommodate the terms of a settlement in line with the principles on which the Union is founded. As previously announced, the European Commission is keen to play its part in supporting the negotiations, conducted under UN auspices and to offer all the support the parties and the UN find most useful. As the negotiations resume, President Barroso's personal representative will contribute actively to the search for constructive solutions in compliance with the EU acquis to overcome outstanding problems. In parallel, the European Commission will also step up its efforts to help the Turkish Cypriot Community prepare for implementation of the acquis.

The European Union also supports the efforts to reach an agreement between the two parties on a package of Confidence-Building Measures which can help to create momentum towards a settlement to the benefit of Cypriot people. The European Union stands ready to look creatively at how to contribute to this objective in the prospects of a final settlement. "

Read the Statement

President Barroso receives Dresden Medal of Saint George

In Dresden President Barroso receives the Medal of Saint George (Sankt Georgs Orden) in the category "politics" for his long-standing commitment to European integration, values and unity.

07/02/2014

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On Friday 7 February, President Barroso visits Dresden (Germany) upon invitation of the regional government of Saxony.

President Barroso receives the Medal of Saint George (Sankt Georgs Orden) in the category "politics". It is awarded by the organisers of the Semper Opera ball taking place on the same evening and which President Barroso attends together with minister-president Tillich. Mr Tillich delivers the laudatory speech.

President Barroso is decorated with the Medal of Saint George for his long-standing commitment to European integration, his passion for Europe as a community of values and for his tireless work to keep Europe united in particularly challenging times and making it fit for the future.

The other award winners this year are:

1. Catherine Deneuve

2. Queen Silvia of Sweden

3. Thomas Gottschalk

4. Udo Jürgens

5. The citizens of Dresden

 

 

On Saturday 8 February, President Barroso pays a visit to the semiconductor manufacturer "Globalfoundries" whose production site in Dresden is the largest of its kind in Europe.

Read the press release by SemperOpernball of 23 January 2014

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President Barroso met Prime Minister of Latvia, Ms Laimdota Straujuma

President Barroso met today with Latvian Prime Minister Straujuma to discuss mainly the economic situation and structural reforms in Latvia. Education reform, energy issues as well as structural and investment funds were also addressed.

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During the meeting President Barroso acknowledged Latvia's economic achievements and encouraged Prime Minister Straujuma to continue the economic and structural reforms that have proved so successful for Latvia to make it the fastest growing economy in the EU.

After Latvia's smooth entry into the euro zone, it is even more important for Latvia to maintain structural reform efforts and a vigilant economic policy, President Barroso stressed.

European Commission President Barroso welcomed the fact that Latvia has been able to make good use of the structural and investment funds for the 2007-2013 period, with good financial execution of the funds. Welcoming Latvia's timely submission of its Partnership Agreement, the President underlined the importance of strategic planning for the 2014-2020 period, focusing funds on stimulating growth and jobs.

Leaders also discussed energy issues in Latvia. President Barroso welcomed the priority the new government is giving to the liberalisation of the gas market, and the progress made in opening the electricity market and he reiterated the Commission's support to Latvia and the Baltic region in their striving to be connected to the EU energy infrastructure. 

President Barroso assured Prime Minister Straujuma Commission's support and assistance and warmly welcomed that the new Latvian government will give high priority to the fight against unemployment, in particular among the young; addressing poverty; and reforming higher education.

President Barroso meets with the Prime Minister of Mali

President Barroso met today with the Prime Minister of Mali, Mr Oumar Tatam Ly, for a follow-up of the Donors Conference for Development in Mali, held in Brussels on 15 May 2013, and to discuss the current situation in the country. 

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At the meeting President Barroso reaffirmed his commitment and support to Mali’s political transition, institutional reform and stabilisation process and welcomed Mali's efforts to overcome the country's recent difficult past.

President Barroso stressed that the successful 2013 elections in Mali show the willingness of the Malian people for a return to the rule of law, peace and security. The President also told the Prime Minister that the EU welcomes the recently elected government decision's to place reform, the fight against corruption and reconciliation at the heart of its programme.

The President also ensured Prime Minister Ly that Mali can count on EU's support in its efforts to reach peace and restore state authority.

The EU is also committed to its financial and military support to Mali in its response to the humanitarian crisis. Following the Donors Conference for development in Mali, held in Brussels on 15 May 2013, the EU already contributed with 238 million euros of the 523 million euros pledged by the European Commission for Mali. Around 5 billion euros will also be mobilised to the Sahel region for the period 2014-2020.

President Barroso and Prime Minister Ly also discussed the relations between Europe and Africa, ahead of the 4th EU-Africa Summit to be held in Brussels on 2-3 April this year.

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President Barroso meets the President of the UN General Assembly John Ashe

Today, in Strasburg, President Barroso met the President of the UN General Assembly John Ashe. Mr Ashe is the Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations and has been elected President of the UN General Assembly last June. During this meeting, President Barroso and Mr Ashe reviewed major peace and security developments, namely in Syria and in Central African Republic. They also exchanged views on the Millenium Development Goals/Post 2015 agenda, and on the International climate negotiations.

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President Barroso said he is “very satisfied with the overall cooperation between the EU and UN”. The President pointed that “the EU has been very active notably on the preparation of the post-2015 agenda and related events”. On the Post-2015 Development Framework, the President stated it is “an opportunity ahead of us to effectively deliver on the twin challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development. We cannot achieve one without the other”.

As for the International Climate negotiations, President Barroso pointed that “the EU will continue to take its share of responsibility and leadership”. He said he has proposed last month a strategic, ambitious EU framework on climate and energy until 2030. The proposal includes a domestic, unconditional 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 as compared to 1990 levels as well as an EU target for renewable energy (at least 27%).

President Barroso and Ambassador John Ashe also discussed the aid to Small Island and Developing States (SIDS). The EU is a long-standing partner of Small Island and Developing States (SIDS) and the partnership encompasses development and humanitarian aid (more than €3 billion in 2007-2012 to SIDS).

On Syria, President Barroso said that Geneva 2 is the only way to engage the opposition and the regime on the political transition. “We should spare no efforts to ensure that the parties that participated in Geneva 2 remain engaged throughout the process. We do hope that the two sides now meeting in Geneva will persevere in their mediation efforts and start through small steps to build confidence that will allow the de-escalation of conflict and lessen its impact on civilians”, he said. The EU overall assistance to Syria now amounts to €2.6 billion.

The President also expressed his concerns regarding the Central African Republic (CAR): “the EU remains deeply concerned by the extreme insecurity and instability in the Central African Republic: heavy civilian casualties, massive displacements of populations, several serious human rights violations and a dramatic worsening of the humanitarian situation”. He explained that the European Union “has responded swiftly to address the current crisis and combines humanitarian, stabilization and development support”.

The Commission has increased its allocation up to €39 million and has furthermore substantially scaled up its humanitarian engagement. “Given the complex challenges the country is facing”, the President said, “it is essential that the international community remains actively engaged in the long-term”.

President Barroso meets the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency

President Barroso met today the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mr Yukiya Amano. The IAEA is an independent organisation in the United Nations system tasked with international co-operation in the nuclear field. President Barroso and Mr Amano reviewed the ever stronger EU – IAEA relations, including financial cooperation, and also discussed the Iran nuclear issue.

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"The EU has a long-standing co-operation with the IAEA in a number of important areas, including nuclear safety and security, and nuclear energy research. I am keen that this co-operation should continue and develop", said the President during the meeting.

Achieving the highest standards in nuclear safety has always been a priority for the EU, especially following the Fukushima accident. "For our part, we have responded to this tragic event by strengthening our EU nuclear safety architecture and seeking to enhance nuclear security worldwide. In this, the IAEA is clearly our primary and indispensable partner", the President added.

The EU is among the main financial contributors to the IAEA, with a total support of €147 million. In the meeting, the President announced that the Commission plans to extend its financial support to IAEA's integrated regulatory review services, with an annual budget of €1 million for the next three years.

"The Commission will continue to rely on the IAEA for peer reviews of nuclear safety and nuclear waste activities in our Member States", stressed President Barroso. "Moreover, we intend to continue support in areas such as the promotion of a nuclear safety culture, the development and application of nuclear safeguards and the sage management of nuclear waste, with a focus on Ukraine and on Central Asia", he added.

On 24-25 March, President Barroso will attend the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, together with fellow world leaders, to further advance the global nuclear security and safety agenda.

President Barroso meets the Prime Minister of Georgia

Today President Barroso met with the Prime Minister of Georgia, Mr Irakli Garibashvili, on his first official visit to Brussels after his appointment in November last year. President Barroso welcomed Georgia's reform path and European integration process and expressed his confidence in the future of EU and Georgia's relations.

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Georgia is one of the leading performers in the Eastern Partnership. This meeting comes after the full initialling of the Association Agreement/Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area at the Vilnius Summit last November. EU and Georgia are expected to sign this Agreement in 2014.

"This step fully reflects Georgia’s determination to European values and European integration for which I commend Prime Minister's and previous governments ", President Barroso said.

The President added: "At the same time, it is crucial to sustain Georgia's important achievements towards good governance, strong political institutions and effective policies to promote economic growth. I particularly welcome Georgia's 2020 strategy for economic development and relevant reforms for our Visa Liberalisation Dialogue."

President Barroso urged the recently appointed Prime Minister to continue to pay careful attention to defending political pluralism and media freedom: "I particularly emphasised the importance of ensuring that criminal prosecutions are evidence-based, transparent, free of political motivation, impartial, and fully in line with democratic values".

During the meeting the President of the European Commission and the Prime Minister of Georgia also discussed the country's achievements in human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly the rights of minorities.

The recent developments in conflict resolution in Georgia were also on the table. President Barroso welcomed the continuing diplomatic contacts between Georgia and the Russian Federation as an important way to assure stability and security for the region.

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