Relations UE-Suisse: Message de félicitations au Président désigné, Didier Burkhalter
Aujourd'hui, le Président Barroso a envoyé un message de félicitations au Président désigné de la Confédération suisse, Didier Burkhalter en soulignant que sa "présidence arrive à une année charnière pour les relations entre la Suisse et l'Europe."
"Le soutien important que vous avez reçu des parties à l'Assemblée fédérale est un signe très positif, aussi en vue des prochaines négociations portant sur le cadre institutionnel horizontal entre l'Union européenne et la Suisse. J'espère sincèrement qu'à partir des travaux préparatoires que nous avons engagés jusqu'ici, nous pourrons renforcer nos relations afin de trouver une solution permanente aux questions institutionnelles qui nous occupent depuis quelques années. Ceci permettrait la conclusion de nouveaux accords sur une coopération plus étroite entre la Suisse et l'Union européenne dans de nombreux secteurs, y compris l'électricité, les programmes d'échange pour la jeunesse, la recherche, l'audiovisuel et la culture, créant ainsi une situation avantageuse pour la Suisse et l'Union."
New Narrative for Europe: President Barroso attends the second general assembly in Milan
President Barroso takes part in the general assembly on forms of imagination and thinking for Europe in Milan on Sunday evening and Monday morning.
This is the second assembly organised within the framework of the project “New Narrative for Europe” proposed by the European Parliament and implemented by the European Commission following the call the President of the European Commission made in his State of the Union address in 2012.
The goal of this initiative is to invite artists, writers, thinkers, scientists and cultural practitioners to come up with a vision of Europe that can reconnect European citizens to the process of building the European Union in the present and in the future. The key speeches are delivered by the President of the European Commission José-Manuel Barroso, the Prime Minister of Italy Enrico Letta and the Prime Minister of Slovenia Alenka Bratušek.
In the context of the event, President Barroso will have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Letta on Monday. He will also attend the signing of the EU's participation act regarding the world exhibition EXPO 2015 in Milan on the same day.
"New Narrative for Europe" website
Joint message on the passing away of Nelson Mandela
European Commission President Barroso and the President of the European Council Van Rompuy expressed their condolences on the passing away of Nelson Mandela, "one of the greatest political figures of our times".
In their joint message the two Presidents stated:
"This is a very sad day not only for South Africa, but for the entire international community. We mourn the death of one of the greatest political figures of our times. Nelson Mandela was not only key in transforming South Africa into the democratic country it is today.
Nelson Mandela represents the fight against racism, political violence and intolerance. He represents justice, freedom and respect for human rights. He taught us all a major lesson in reconciliation, political transition and social transformation. Only a person with his profound humanity, moral integrity and authority and clear vision for the future of his country, could have achieved this.
While we grieve today, there is no better way we can honour his memory than by reaffirming our collective commitment to uphold the values of true and deep democracy for which Nelson Mandela fought tirelessly.
On behalf of the European Union, we convey our most heartfelt condolences to his family and to the government and people of South Africa."
On President Barroso's request the flags in front of European Commission's buildings are flying at half-mast.
President Barroso meets with Plácido Domingo
Today President Barroso met Plácido Domingo, the world-renowned tenor and President of “Europa Nostra” to discuss the “Creative Europe” Programme, a Commission's proposal adopted on 19 November by the European Parliament, and other wider cultural issues.
The President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso welcomed Plácido Domingo in Brussels. Plácido Domingo is the President of “Europa Nostra”, a citizens’ movement for the safeguarding of Europe’s cultural and natural heritage.
During the meeting, President Barroso underlined the attention the Commission devotes to culture and heritage in the European Union, notably through concrete support schemes such as the “Creative Europe” Programme and heritage actions.
Creative Europe builds on the experience and success of the Culture and MEDIA programmes, which have supported the cultural and audio-visual sectors for more than 20 years. It aims to respond to challenges the cultural and creative sectors face in terms of fragmentation, globalisation and the digital shift, data management and shortage of private investment.
Being a Commission's proposal, it was adopted on 19 November by the European Parliament. The budgetary amount for the programme for the 2014-2020 period has been set at €1.46 billion, an increase of 9% compared to current levels.
The "Creative Europe programme" has been adopted by the Council and will enter into force as from January 2014.
Cultural heritage in the EU and copyright issues, a matter of great importance for the Commission, were also on the agenda.
President Barroso receives award for his work in dialogue and cooperation
Yesterday President Barroso received the 2013 Center for Global Dialogue and Cooperation's Award in Vienna in recognition of his work for global dialogue and cooperation.
The award distinguishes President Barroso's "remarkable ability to foster positive global trends, his great contribution to the dissemination of values such as honesty, and transparency, as well as his active efforts in strengthening cooperation between diverse people and cultures".
In his acceptance speech, President Barroso stressed the importance of the global dialogue as a basis for working towards a common ground. He said: "To tackle global challenges together, you need a true dialogue, and not just parallel monologues. (…) Dialogue also demands both sides to listen with the same openness and to show some basic willingness to change their mind".
Read President's speech
President Barroso: Upcoming presidency a 'great opportunity' for Greece
President Barroso has welcomed Greece's upcoming Presidency of the Council of Ministers as a "great opportunity" for the country, and said the Commission will offer all its support to make it a success.
"I hope and believe that the Greek presidency is going to be a great opportunity to show that Greece is not only able to solve its problems with European solidarity, but Greece is also able to give an important contribution to the European project," President Barroso said, following a joint press conference with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of Greece.
President Barroso was speaking after a series of meetings between the college of commissioners and several members of the Greek government ahead of Greece's Presidency in January 2014. "I assured Prime Minister Samaras and the Greek government of our full support over the next six months for this Presidency, and I was glad to hear from him that Greece's priorities are largely in step with our own," President Barroso said. "This is a crucial time for Europe as we seek to finalise key pieces of legislation before the European elections in May."
On the economy, President Barroso paid tribute to the progress made by Greece under the EU-IMF financial assistance programme, and said the "hard work is paying off", with the economy expected to return to growth next year. "Greece was very close to insolvency some time ago, very close to a real and extremely difficult situation, from an economic and social point of view. I know that it was with great sacrifices, but Greece can now look to the future, somehow with more confidence," President Barroso said. "I really want to tell you that I very much appreciate the determination shown by the Greek citizens and the Greek authorities during this exceptionally difficult time, and I want you to know that the Commission stands by Greece and the efforts of the Greek people to build a better future."
He added that the crisis gave Greece a different perspective on the Presidency. "With the lessons learned from this crisis, Greece can also lead the European Union, bringing its special sensitivity to so many problems, from the Balkans to maritime policy, which Greece knows much better than most of our Member States," he said.
The President also highlighted Greece's contribution to European - and world - civilisation. "Europe would not be Europe today without the contribution of Greece, from philosophy to mathematics, from theatre to literature – the world would not be the same. And this is a debt, a very profound debt that we have all in our civilisation to Greece," he said.
President Barroso meets King Abdullah II of Jordan
On Wednesday, President Barroso met with the King Abdullah II of Jordan. The EU has been developing a close partnership with Jordan, grounded on an Association Agreement, in force since 2002.
During this meeting, President Barroso supported further deepening of the EU-Jordan relations in the area of trade and investment, by offering the possibility to negotiate a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). This would have a tangible impact on the Jordanian economy in terms of boosting investment and supporting the ongoing process of domestic economic reform.
The two leaders also discussed mobility issues, in particular launching negotiations for a Mobility Partnership in January 2014.
President Barroso and King Abdullah II also addressed the Macro-Financial Assistance operation of up to € 180 million, which the EU is preparing in response to Jordan's request. This assistance would take the form of a medium-term loan, and Jordan would be the first partner country in the Southern neighbourhood to benefit from this exceptional financial instrument. Furthermore, the EU has significantly increased the development assistance to Jordan (€ 101 million additional funds from the SPRING programme since 2011) which brings the EU bilateral co-operation with Jordan to €324 million for the period 2011-2013.
As Jordan is a key player in the Middle East, President Barroso and King Abdullah II addressed the promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in the region. On Syria, President Barroso offered his views on humanitarian and development assistance in response to the Syria crisis, which is close to €2 billion. Furthermore, the EU support for refugees and host communities in Jordan sums up to € 224 million. The leaders also exchanged views on the Geneva II conference, to be convened on January 2014.
President Barroso: “The relationship between Norway and the EU is not good, it is excellent!”
On Tuesday, President Barroso welcomed the Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on her first visit to Brussels in her new capacity. The President stressed that the relationship between the EU and Norway is solid and of great value to both sides.
During the meeting, President Barroso and Prime Minister Solberg discussed cooperation between the EU and Norway, which is mainly based on the European Economic Area (EEA) and Schengen Agreements.
"Today I welcomed the intention of the new Government of Norway to pursue an even more active European policy, primarily through the EEA Agreement, and I look forward to working with the Prime Minister and her team towards this end."
He added: "The Government's announcement to lift Norway's reservation vis-a-vis the incorporation of the Third Postal Directive into the EEA Agreement is an encouraging signal. We hope to receive similar good news in the future."
Other issues including bilateral trade relations, a new multilateral arrangement on mackerel fishing and energy were also on the agenda. Regarding energy, the President said: "A substantial portion of EU energy supplies comes from Norway, and these supplies are mutually beneficial, safe and secure. Broadening this open, reliable and transparent cooperation is in our common interest. We very much value Norway as an energy partner, a reliable partner of the European Union. Today we informally discussed with the Prime Minister what can be our future policy in terms of climate. We exchanged perspectives of what can happen on renewables and the possibilities of some interconnections between Norway and the European Union".
President Barroso also thanked Norway for its contributions to the EU and its support in global issues like migration. He concluded by saying that "the relationship between Norway and the European Union is not good, it is excellent!"
Tourism – a vital role for Europe and vice versa
Today, at around 12.15, President Barroso will give a speech at the 17th tourism summit in Berlin.
He will remind of the mutually beneficial effects of tourism and European integration, and underline in particular also the importance of the four freedoms of the Single Market for a flourishing tourism sector.
He is likely to say: "If the true purpose of the European project is 'not to unify States but to unite people', then the importance of the tourism sector to achieve this goal is enormous. More than anything, over the decades, Europe's citizens travelling from their own country to other European countries has brought our continent together. In the people's experience, travel has made European unity something tangible, beneficial and attractive. Tourism has made it ever more natural to be 'European'. Therefore it has contributed to forging a European identity, based on Europe's cultural diversity. At the same time, vice versa the importance of Europe for the tourism sector is equally vital. Where would tourism be today without the four freedoms of the single European market? Without the free movement of goods, of services, of capital, and, of course, of persons."
He will also underline the economic importance of tourism and its role as an indicator of our growth performance and consumer confidence. He will draw attention to the fact that tourism resisted and is now recovering from the crisis better than most sectors. He will recall that the integration of markets to the benefit of companies and consumers, which is so crucial for tourism, is a continuing effort. He will stress that there will be no way back to the 'old normal', but we are finding our way towards a 'new normal', based on a changed growth model that will make the Union more resilient and competitive.
President Barroso is expected to characterise tourism as a "powerful engine for domestic demand-driven growth, for instance in Germany, where this is currently the subject of an important debate. But it is equally important in the wider European rebalancing exercise, since Mediterranean Europe has performed even better than average in recent years." He will remind that this region is the top holiday destination worldwide, with 18% of market share: "Spain is leading the way with 34 million tourists between January and July, and a 4% rise in international arrivals compared to last year. Greece (+ 9.2%), Malta (+10 %) and Portugal (+8 %) all reported healthy growth. Another reason to cherish the tourism industry's to Europe's growth and job creation."
Last but not least, President Barroso will recall how the Commission aims at fostering the competitiveness of the tourism sector by creating a favourable environment for enterprises and for cooperation among Member States.
The speech will be broadcast here.
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.