Joint statement after the G8 Summit
After the G8 summit, European Commission President Barroso and European Council President Van Rompuy issued a joint statement on the G8 summit outcome saying: "Overall, we are pleased that our ambitions for this summit have been broadly achieved."
The EU actively contributed to the discussion of all items on the agenda.
On the global economy
The two Presidents highlighted in particular the good discussions of the global economy with the other G8 leaders.
"All leaders agreed that our urgent priority is to promote growth and jobs, particularly for the young and long-term unemployed. While recognising that the economic situation had improved since the last G8 summit in Camp David, we all agreed on the need to continue supporting the global recovery by supporting demand, ensuring healthy public finances and implementing structural reforms."
On foreign policy - Syria
"The G8 discussion of foreign policy focused in-depth on the appalling crisis in Syria with tens of thousands of dead and millions of displaced and refugees. We stressed the need to press for a political solution via convening a Geneva II conference as soon as possible and simultaneously address the gravely escalating humanitarian crisis that also threatens regional stability as a matter of urgency."
On trade - TTIP
"Together with US President Barack Obama, we launched the historic negotiations for an unprecedented Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the European Union and the United States. A successful conclusion of the negotiations would provide significant economic benefits."
On tax evasion and tax fraud
"All G8 leaders seized and reinforced the momentum in the global fight against tax evasion and tax fraud. The G8 sends a powerful signal that we are ready to take action to make sure that companies and individuals pay the taxes due, including via promoting automatic exchange of information - which is already the EU norm for savings income and by 2015 should apply to all forms of income and account balances - as a global standard and introducing country-by-country reporting by multinational companies to tax authorities."
"We also supported the G8's strong call for increased transparency, on land governance, open data and in extractive industries, where the EU has a strong agenda, both in the laws we have put in place and through our support for partner countries."
President Barroso and President Van Rompuy concluded: "We said at the beginning that we were here to promote a fairer world, fairness at home in the G8 countries and fairness for people right around the globe. So we are happy that the G8 has sent a strong signal that the days of impunity for tax evaders are numbered and that we will all work tirelessly to shed more light on how and where our citizens and companies pay their taxes."
17 June 2013
"The EU is coming to this G8 to promote a fairer world. Fairness at home in G8 countries and fairness for people around the globe," said European Commission President Barroso in his press statement ahead of the G8 summit.
At the joint press conference, where he together with European Council President Van Rompuy presented the goals the EU will push for at this summit, he expressed his confidence that "the G8 will provide political impetus for global change towards more global fairness, including for the poorest countries."
"Firstly, the European union wants fairness by further opening trade between free and open economies," said President Barroso. He reiterated that the EU agreed on Friday eve a broad mandate to start negotiations with the United States on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
The President said that this summit is also about fairness in the way taxes are paid by individuals and companies, and "Thirdly, we want fairness through greater transparency on land governance, open data and in extractive industries."
President Barroso also announced that "still today, together with President Obama we will give the go-ahead for the start of negotiations between the United States and the European Union. The European Commission will negotiate on behalf of all our 28 Member States. Our Partnership will be a true game changer for the global economy."
"The European Union has very good story to tell, often pioneering the global agenda in all of the G8 priorities," underlined the President and outlined the examples of the EU has done so far. He said:
- our bilateral trade agreements are a stepping stone towards further liberalising global trade and strengthening the multilateral trading system;
- the EU has agreed far-reaching binding legislation for transparency in extractive industries and forestry;
- the EU passed legislation to further open up public data because it believes that open data means business opportunities and job creation;
- the EU is world’s largest donor for development assistance, with a specific emphasis on food security;
- the EU is driving force behind the new political momentum in the fight against tax evasion and avoidance;
- in Europe and at global level, we want everybody to pay his fair share of taxes in a transparent way;
- the EU has proposed a maximum extension of the scope for the automatic exchange of information among the EU tax authorities;
- the EU is convinced that there is a need to improve tax governance everywhere.
In conclusion President Barroso congratulated the UK G8 presidency for the choice of the venue: Northern Ireland. The summit places on the global stage the efforts of the people and leaders of Northern Ireland – where the peace and financial efforts have been supported by the EU since 1995. "This is a clear signal to the world that peace and reconciliation have returned to this most beautiful and hospitable part of Europe."
Presidents Barroso and Obama announce launch of TTIP negotiations
"Today is a special day for relations between the European Union and the United States.
We are ready to start the negotiations of a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement (TTIP)," said President Barroso in his statement at the joint EU – US press conference at the margins of the G8 summit.
Together with the European Council President Van Rompuy, President of the United States Obama and UK Prime minister Cameron, European Commission President Barroso stressed the importance of the TTIP. "Our joint endeavour is about bringing growth and jobs to both sides of the Atlantic by boosting trade and investment," said the President, adding that the TTIP is "also a powerful demonstration of our determination to shape a free, open and rules-based world."
President Barroso explained that "we intend to move forward fast. The current economic climate requires us to join forces and to do more with less. More importantly, in doing so, we will remain strong global players who set the standards and regulations for the 21st century."
He called on regulators, legislators and civil society to play a constructive and engaged part in this negotiation and concluded: "This is also good for the rest of the world. Given the integrated supply chains in today's global markets, everyone can benefit from this agreement."
President Barroso meets Pope Francis at the Vatican
President Barroso met today Pope Francis at a private audience, an opportunity to discuss common interests, in particular the initiatives to overcome the economic crisis in Europe. The President also met Pope Francis at an appointment in March.
During the meeting, President Barroso expressed the EU's strong commitment to overcome the current crisis, to fight poverty and to promote solidarity. The social investment package and the latest initiatives to combat youth unemployment were also on the agenda.
The EU's engagement in both conflict resolution and in humanitarian support was also discussed. In particular, President Barroso presented the EU's involvement in Syria, where the EU leads the efforts of the international community, contributing more than € 840 million. Recently, the Commission announced a € 400 million additional package of humanitarian and non-humanitarian assistance to Syria and neighbouring countries.
The European Commission promotes a regular dialogue with representatives of religions and non-religious about the future of Europe, citizenship and social policy.
EU receives FAO's award for work in food security
President Barroso today received on behalf of the European Union the Jacques Diouf award from the UN’s Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO) in recognition of the pioneering work of the EU's Food Facility.
The award recognises the pioneering work of the €1 billion EU's Food Facility, which has so far improved the lives of more than 59 million people in 50 countries.
"The EU has long been the world’s largest donor on food security and nutrition, and it’s very rewarding to see our work being recognised in this way. It has given us the incentive to now make sure that we do even more to help those who need it most by using the prize to top up funding for our work in food resilience and nutrition going forward’, the President said.
The EU’s ground-breaking Food Facility was set up to respond to the food crises which hit the Horn of Africa and the Sahel in 2008. It has since then provided substantial and swift support to the worst affected people.
The Food facility has boosted sustainable agricultural production from small-scale farmers, reduced post-harvest losses and facilitated access to markets, improving the lives of more than 59 million people in 50 countries. Beneficiaries saw a 50% increase in agricultural production and a rise in the household annual income of on average €290.
President Barroso visits Rome and meets President Napolitano and Prime Minister Letta
Friday, President Barroso travels to Rome to meet the President of Italy, Mr Giorgio Napolitano, and Prime Minister Mr Enrico Letta.
The meeting with President Napolitano takes place Friday afternoon. On Saturday, President Barroso meets the Italian Prime Minister Letta. It is their second meeting since Mr Letta's appointment. Following the talks, they will give a press conference. The speaking points of President Barroso will be available afterwards.
These bilateral talks focus on two critical points of national and European agendas: tackling the current economic crisis and fighting unemployment, in particular youth unemployment.
Mandate to negotiate the EU – US agreement on trade and investment obtained today
I am delighted we have a mandate to negotiate an agreement on trade and investment with the United States. These negotiations can be a game changer.
It shows that where there is a will there is a way.
We are already each other's biggest trade and investment partners. Strengthening this relationship will bring more jobs, more growth to Europe and the United States. The potential economic gains for the EU are estimated at around €120 billion a year. And the real beauty of this deal is that it will offer real returns of around €545 per average household in Europe almost for free. This makes it the cheapest stimulus package one can imagine.
Both sides come to these negotiations with their own priorities and interests. But I am convinced that, if both sides show the political will, we can reach an agreement that fully respects our sensitivities.
Beyond the economic benefits, this is also about our place in the world. An agreement will forge a shared future based on our common values and our common commitment to open trade.
The European Commission will take these negotiations forward. We will work quickly while ensuring that the substance is right.
G8 summit: promoting global fairness through trade, taxation and transparency
Ahead of the 2013 G8 summit in Northern Ireland (UK), President Barroso sets out the EU’s views on the main topics on the agenda.
The G8 summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland on June 17-18 has three "Ts" as priorities: trade and the economy, taxation and transparency.
Regarding trade, President Barroso underlines the fact that the EU's bilateral trade agreements are a "stepping stone" towards wider multilateral global trade. He notes that the EU has always been a staunch supporter and promoter of free and multilateral trade. For example, the EU is fully engaged with its partners to conclude a WTO trade facilitation agreement, which would have a huge positive impact for developing and least developed countries.
"The G8 summit should make the case for such an agreement and then, together with the G20, provide the political impulse needed to close the deal at the WTO ministerial meeting in Bali in December. This G8 should also back and outline actions to further trade in Africa, for example by lowering trade costs, stimulating infrastructure financing and coordinating support better", President Barroso says in the article.
On the second T, taxation, President Barroso strongly welcomes the G8's willingness to join forces and cooperate more effectively to fight tax evasion and avoidance, in Europe and worldwide.
Within the EU, common action is being taken on exchange of information, on tax havens and on aggressive tax planning. President Barroso describes the G8 summit as a great opportunity to inject further momentum at the global level.
"The EU would strongly support a joint effort towards a new multilateral standard in the context of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. We believe that our EU savings tax directive can be an important point of reference here", says the President.
As for the third T, transparency, President Barroso highlights the update of the EU transparency and accounting directives which make the EU a global pioneer in legislating on transparency in extractive industries – such as mining – and forestry. He also urges more countries to join in the global effort to subscribe to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
He notes that transparency should also be further enhanced on land tenure by pushing for the implementation of the ground-breaking Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security in May 2012.
President Barroso meets President Cavaco Silva and announces agreement on EIB's funding for Portuguese SMEs
President Barroso on Thursday met the President of Portugal Cavaco Silva in Brussels. The meeting provided for a discussion on economic topics.
The Presidents discussed the economic situation in Portugal and in Europe, and the progress achieved by the on-going Economic Adjustment Programme. The President of Portugal thanked President Barroso for his efforts in supporting Portugal in its endeavours to overcome the current economic crisis.
Following the meeting, President Barroso announced an agreement between the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and the Portuguese authorities to facilitate EIB's funding for the country's small and medium enterprises.
Regarding the Portuguese economy, President Barroso said that much has been achieved to address the country's problems. He said that conditions are being put in place for a sustainable recovery. The President also said he is fully conscious of how hard the situation still remains for many Portuguese citizens and he highlighted their efforts. He said he is confident that Portugal is on the right track.
President Barroso praised the actions of the Portuguese authorities and the political and social consensus in the country. Furthermore, he reaffirmed his commitment to support the Portuguese government through the difficult period of economic reform and adjustment, with a view to ensure that Portugal emerges from the programme with its public finances in order, its economy more competitive and better placed to grow and create jobs.
The Presidents also addressed the employment situation in Portugal, in particular the situation of the young and long-term unemployed. President Barroso explained how the EU is planning to tackle youth unemployment, a top priority on his agenda.
President Barroso calls for a European consensus to restore confidence
President calls for a European consensus, based on fiscal consolidation, structural reform and help for the unemployed to boost economic confidence and to help Europe exit the crisis.
Today in the European Parliament President Barroso called for a European consensus to help restore confidence, break the vicious circle of lack of confidence and boost economic activity.
"This is the time to develop what I could call a European consensus: if we do not pull together, we will be pulled apart. We need a consensus built on practical steps to resolve the crisis. A consensus not just on the need for growth and jobs, but on the means to achieve this. A consensus for an economically more competitive Europe and a socially more inclusive Europe", the President said in his speech.
The forthcoming European Council is the occasion to focus on Employment creation and measures that will restore lending to the SMEs.
On employment the Commission has taken many measures including reprogramming €16 billion of structural funds. Further steps are needed from the member states: "more work is needed and more work is already underway because unemployment affects not hundreds of thousands but millions across Europe", he added.
SMEs in particular face a lack of access to credit. "Excessively tight access to credit remains a key obstacle to the revival of economic activity – especially in our most vulnerable Member States", the President said. Pursuing a banking union should help the return to normal lending conditions.
Confidence is also important. Savers are not prepared to invest and there is a lack of consumption. A European consensus, based on fiscal consolidation, structural reform and help for the unemployed would help boost confidence, spurring investment and lead to growth and jobs.
Le Président Barroso rassure les cinéastes européens sur la protection de la culture dans les négociations avec les Etats-Unis
Le Président Barroso a reçu, aujourd'hui, une délégation de cinéastes européens à Strasbourg. Cette rencontre a notamment permis un échange sur les opportunités des futures négociations commerciales avec les Etats-Unis et de clarifier certains malentendus sur les enjeux culturels de cette négociation.
A l'issue de la rencontre, le Président Barroso a déclaré:
"La Commission est du côté de la culture. Personne n'est plus attaché que moi à la diversité culturelle européenne ainsi qu'à la spécificité des biens culturels qui doit être préservée et nourrie.
La diversité culturelle - pilier fondateur de notre Union européenne - sera pleinement protégée dans les futures négociations avec les Etats-Unis. Nous avons donné des garanties additionnelles pour rassurer quiconque pourrait en douter.
Un mandat de négociation ambitieux est dans l'intérêt général européen pour générer le maximum de croissance et d'emploi. Ceci est parfaitement possible en respectant nos obligations vis-à-vis du secteur culturel, fermement ancrées dans le Traité et dans la Convention de l'UNESCO que l'Union Européenne a ratifiés.
Laissez- moi le réaffirmer haut et fort: l'exception culturelle n'est pas négociable. Il n'y aura pas de marchandage sur la culture! "
Il a ajouté:
"L'exclusion totale de l'audiovisuel du mandat de négociation n'est pas nécessaire pour atteindre nos objectifs, notamment sur "l'exception culturelle". Par contre, exclure tout un secteur, c'est limiter notre ambition pour l'ensemble de la négociation. Cela risque de mettre en cause l'intérêt européen dans un secteur où l'UE a aussi des intérêts offensifs.
Nos échanges aujourd'hui ont permis de constater qu'il y a en réalité peu de choses qui nous séparent - puisque nous sommes tous unis dans l'objectif de protéger notre culture! J'espère que les gouvernements européens se mettront d'accord sur les bonnes modalités pour y parvenir. Cela permettrait de donner rapidement le coup d'envoi aux négociations contribuant au nouveau dynamisme dont nos économies ont tant besoin."
Le Président Barroso a souligné le soutien concret de la Commission à ce secteur, notamment à travers le programme Europe Créative 2014-2020 qui continuera son action pour renforcer la compétitivité du secteur audiovisuel. Le futur programme MEDIA sera renforcé pour tenir compte des opportunités de l'internationalisation du secteur et favoriser les échanges entre les professionnels européens du secteur et avec le monde entier. Il a enfin souligné l'importance de la protection de la propriété intellectuelle et la lutte contre le piratage, domaines dans lesquels la coopération avec les Etats-Unis est essentielle.
Laying out Commission's strategy on industry for growth
Speaking at the Industrial Policy Conference in Brussels, President Barroso outlined the role of industry in the Commission's strategy for growth and jobs. "Uncertainty and the lack of confidence are the main obstacles for EU industry at this moment," he said, "but investors from within and outside Europe still believe in our industry's growth potential, and rightly so."
President Barroso underlined the main issues the Commission is working on that support EU industry in dealing with the challenges it currently faces.
As stressed in the Country Specific Recommendations presented by the Commission last week, he repeated that "the first issue we need to focus on is restoring normal lending to the economy, because negative expectations lead to falling investment. Despite massive backing provided by governments and a supportive monetary stance of the ECB, lending conditions remain tight and access to finance is limited. This is especially the case in countries most hit by the banking and sovereign debt crisis, and even beyond."
Energy policy, the subject of the last European Council debate, plays a key role, especially for the steel sector. "In the steel sector, it is estimated that the energy bill represents up to 40% of total operational costs, so the energy issue should be an important feature in the Steel Action Plan to be adopted by the Commission next week."
President Barroso stressed the Commission's active policy to complete the internal market and open markets internationally, and their importance for industry: "To make our industrial companies and entrepreneurs more competitive and more robust, we need to provide them with greater market access and better market conditions. Both in the internal market and in international evolutions, I see a lot of potential still to unleash."
Cooperation at all levels needed to overcome the crisis
Today the European Commission President Barroso and Committee of the Regions President Valcárcel met to discuss the main economic, social and political challenges the European Union.
The on-going efforts for growth and jobs and the path towards a deeper integrated economic and monetary union was at the heart of the discussion.
President Barroso said: "While we are pulling all the stops to move Europe out of the crisis, our most important task is to give hope to people. We need to continue directing all efforts towards creating sustainable growth and jobs in Europe, implementing the measures we have decided to take. And we need to show that the action is making a difference for our unemployed young people and our cash-strapped small and medium sized enterprises."
The bilateral meeting between the two Presidents was followed by a working lunch hosted by President Barroso with seven major Local and Regional Associations.
President Barroso stressed that cooperation at all levels is needed to overcome the crisis, adding that "the role of regions and cities is key to achieve our common goals."
Both meetings take place in the framework of the "structural dialogue" between the European Commission, the Committee of Regions and European Associations of Local and Regional Authorities.
President Barroso discusses trade, tax and transparency with Prime Minister David Cameron
President Barroso met this afternoon in London with Prime Minister David Cameron. They had positive, constructive talks on the three priorities (trade, tax and transparency) of the UK Presidency of the forthcoming G8 in Northern Ireland.
They also looked ahead to the forthcoming European Council that will focus on economic reform, growth and tackling youth unemployment. President Barroso raised the issue of the mandate for trade talks with the United States and underlined the importance of reaching an ambitious mandate.
President Barroso calls for European consensus on growth and employment
President Barroso today welcomed the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy together with the Ministers of his government in Brussels.
The meeting allowed for in depth discussions on the challenges Europe is facing, and how Spain and the Commission can work together for Europe to overcome the economic crisis.
President Barroso recognised the important steps taken by the Spanish government to achieve a sustainable economic recovery and reduce the unacceptable level of unemployment.
"Our common goal is stability, growth and jobs. I would like to recall that many of the measures that need to be taken are already on the table. They must now be adopted as soon as possible and implemented without delay. The Commission is working with determination, in advance of the next European Council, to help make this happen", the President said.
To tackle big challenges like unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, President Barroso stressed that, in addition to structural reforms, short-term actions are also needed.
"The Commission has led the way to have a Youth Guarantee adopted at European level, to ensure that all young people under 25 receive an offer of employment, further education or training within four months of finishing formal education or becoming unemployed - a system that has worked well in some European countries", the President said.
He called for an urgent conclusion of the negotiations of the future EU budget so that initiatives like the Youth Employment Initiative can be implemented.
President Barroso concluded by calling for stronger joint efforts to create the conditions for employment.
"We need a European consensus … this is vital for growth and employment. This is the message I will take to the next European Council, and I know I can also count on the support of Spain in this", he said.
President Barroso welcomes new Australia–Europe Leadership Dialogue
President Barroso on Wednesday addressed a delegation of 30 high-ranking representatives of Australia's business community. This business mission abroad was led by Australia's Governor-General Quentin Bryce.
The meeting was held during a period when EU- Australia relations are moving to a much higher degree of cooperation and political alliance.
The EU and Australia are currently negotiating a modern and ambitious Framework Agreement. Despite the geographical distance, the EU remains Australia's second-largest trading partner after China, and it is its most significant trading partner in services. It is also the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) and the largest destination for Australian FDI overseas.
"This is our objective with Australia", President Barroso said. "We need to build on our political like mindedness and on our solid economic relationship." Noting that cooperation cannot be exclusive to the executives or to the officials, President Barroso said it "needs to include civil society and businesses which are the motor of our relations. This is why I would like to commend this initiative to establish an EU-Australia Leadership Dialogue."
President Barroso's first official visit to Kazakhstan
President Barroso visited Kazakhstan from 1st – 3rd June, at the invitation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Their bilateral meeting focused on bilateral, regional and international issues.
While giving a speech at the Gumiliov Euroasian National University in Astana on Sunday, President Barroso stressed that Kazakhstan has become an increasingly important partner for the EU, not only because of trade and economic exchanges, but more importantly as a stable country with a proven track-record of harmony and tolerance.
"We wish to deepen and enrich this relationship. The negotiation of a new and enhanced Partnership and Co-operation Agreement, which we have initiated together, is the recognition of the importance of Kazakhstan to the European Union and of our strong strategic relations", the President said following his meeting with President Nazarbayev.
President Barroso said that the aim is to broaden the cooperation in all areas of mutual interest, and to support Kazakhstan’s reform and modernisation efforts. He stressed that human rights and the respect for the rule of law are integral parts of a modern society.
Regarding bilateral trade between the EU and Kazakhstan, President Barroso pointed out that the EU has progressively become Kazakhstan's leading trade partner, with about 40% of the country's total external trade. He said: "I am most pleased to be able to confirm here today that our trade negotiators have found agreement on the substantive elements of the bilateral EU-Kazakh terms of Kazakhstan's WTO accession, and we look forward to signing the deal soon".
Recognising that many important developments in Kazakhstan have been driven by the country's energy sector, President Barroso also commended the 2050 Strategy, anchored in a green economy concept, which the Kazakh authorities have just embraced.
"Being one of the world’s largest oil producers and adopting a growth strategy for the future based on clean energy and resource efficiency is not only commendable, it is visionary", he said.
EU-Russia summit moves forward negotiations on New Agreement
The EU-Russia summit in Yekaterinburg covers economic and trade relations, regional and international security challenges as well as energy and mobility.
Today and tomorrow Yekaterinburg hosts the EU-Russia Summit. The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, represents the European Commission together with the President of the Council, Mr Van Rompuy.
"Russia is our largest neighbour and a strategic partner with whom we have been building a solid and mutually beneficial relationship. It is in our common interest to develop further our bilateral relationship and the legal framework that underpins it. The best basis for a closer and reliable partnership is an ambitious and comprehensive New Agreement", said President Barroso prior to the Summit.
The agenda of the meeting covers the overall global economic situation with a particular attention given to the upcoming G20 meeting and the Russian G20 presidency. Moreover, leaders will attend to the current state of affairs in relation to the negotiations of a New Agreement to replace the current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. They will cover trade, the EU-Russia Energy Roadmap 2050 , mobility and global security challenges – including Syria. A drug precursor's agreement will be signed at the Summit.
President Barroso said he also expects the summit, which takes place on June 3-4, to reconfirm the great importance that both sides attach to the Partnership for Modernisation.
He stressed that "thriving civil societies are the best lever for political and economic modernisation. Trade and energy will also be discussed. We are interested in a predictable and rules-based relationship based on our common WTO commitments. Closer relations between our people, namely through increased mobility, will be also part of our agenda".
Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission and Energy Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger will also take part.
Russia will be represented by President Vladimir Putin, accompanied by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and several other Russian ministers.
Religious leaders to contribute to the debate on the future of Europe
Invited by President Barroso, 18 senior representatives from Christian, Muslim and Jewish religions and from the Hindu community from all over Europe met in Brussels today to discuss European citizenship.
"Now it has become a tradition so probably it sounds trivial, but this is more than a photo opportunity , this is much more than a photo opportunity. Unfortunately there many other parts in the world where this kind of gathering would not be possible, and I want to underline that point", said President Barroso during the press briefing.
He continued: "In Europe we have problems like the ones that have been highlighted and they are serious and we should not underestimate them but I want to call your attention, that at this moment we are speaking here, in many parts of the world people are being killed or persecuted because there is no freedom of religion . And this is extremely important. So, this is more than a photo opportunity, this is a symbol of what in Europe we are trying to do in terms of living together."
The high-level meeting, taking place in the context of the European Year of Citizens 2013, was called by President Barroso and co-chaired by President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and László Surján, Vice-President of the European Parliament.
In his statement, President Barroso said: "Recently, I have also taken the initiative to help formulate a new 'narrative' for Europe with contributions from the world of culture and creativity. Today we are inviting religious organisations across the European Union to voice their ideas about the future of Europe, about our European values, social issues and questions of solidarity."
President Barroso underlined that "the churches, the religious communities have an extremely important role in the very dense fabric of Europe and I know how important is the role they are playing in addressing many of these pressing situations, namely in terms of social needs."
The contribution of the representatives of churches and religious communities fed directly into the broader, on-going Europe-wide debate amongst citizens, businesses, civil society and government organisations, in the context of the European Year of Citizens 2013.
President Barroso meets President Martinelli of Panama
This bilateral meeting takes place during President Martinelli's visit to Europe.
President José Manuel Barroso and the President of Panama met today in Brussels.
The visit reflects EU's and Panama's will to strengthen their ties through the EU - Central America Association Agreement.
The EU - Central America Association Agreement is the first region-to-region Association Agreement concluded by the EU. It was signed in June 2012 and covers all aspects of the relationship: political dialogue, cooperation and trade.
The European Parliament gave its consent to the Agreement in December 2012 and ratification in Central American countries is on-going.
Country-specific recommendations 2013
The 2013 European Semester is in full swing. The Commission has published country-specific recommendations for Member States along with an overarching communication on what is needed to return to growth and jobs.
The recommendations are based on a thorough assessment of every Member State's plans for sound public finances and economic reforms to boost growth and jobs.
In his speech at the press conference President Barroso underlined that today's recommendations are part of our comprehensive strategy to move Europe beyond the crisis.
"Europe needs a consensus on the policies that are both right for us as Union, and right for each Member State," he said and called for everyone to rally around the European Consensus now.
The Commission's analysis shows that most Member States are making progress on fiscal consolidation and are implementing reforms to increase competitiveness. However, President Barroso urged Member states to move quicker and to be more bold on so-called structural reforms that can deliver growth and jobs. "The cost of inaction will be very high," he added.
"We call on all countries to be more ambitious when it comes to growth-boosting economic reforms," the President said. He reiterated that more can be done to create the conditions for businesses to invest and create jobs. Moreover, fiscal consolidation should continue, albeit at a different pace, while remaining pockets of vulnerability in the banking sector need to be addressed.
President Barroso underlined the need to spend smartly on research and innovation to create the jobs of the future and explained that investing in people also means taking care of the most vulnerable: "Specific, focused action is needed to deliver short-term results for the unemployed, especially young people."
"Structural reforms and sound public finances are the foundation of a healthy economy. The benefit of taking action now is that Europe that will emerge stronger from this crisis," concluded the President.
President Barroso awards the first Social Innovation prizes
Social innovation can stimulate new business models addressing unmet social needs. Today three ground-breaking ideas that seek new ways to create more and better jobs in Europe were awarded the Social Innovation Prize.
The President said: "The winning ideas show that social innovation has the potential to make a major difference in creating new opportunities for work. New markets can be developed from grass-root ideas. The current economic crisis makes this more important than ever."
The winning projects aim to reduce youth employment by sharing jobs among young and older employees, to extend the reach and quality of small-scale social care and health services via an app, and to improve access to the job market for economically deprived by making their skills widely visible.
To boost social innovation, the European Commission launched on the 1 October 2012 the Social Innovation Competition in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos. Europeans were invited to develop solutions for creating new opportunities for work, and for better work. As a result over 600 proposals were received, out of which three were awarded with a prize of €20 000 at the European Social Innovation Awards Ceremony in Brussels today.
World's major regional organisations discuss democracy and the rule of law
Today President Barroso hosted the Third High Level Meeting of the Inter-Regional Dialogue on Democracy. The participants discussed methods to uphold and strengthen the rule of law from a regional perspective, experiences and lessons learned, and challenges and limitations faced.
Before the meeting, President Barroso said "it is a great pleasure to bring the world's major regional organisations, together with the United Nations, around the table to discuss our role and responsibilities in supporting good governance and rule of law around the globe. This event perfectly illustrates some of the EU main convictions: multilateralism, regional integration and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms. These are cornerstones of the European project; they are of paramount importance not only within our borders, but also in our external relations".
Delegates around the table represented the African Union Commission, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the League of Arab States, the Organization of American States, the Pacific Islands Forum and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.
The meeting was co-organised by the European Commission and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).
President Barroso meets the President of the UN General Assembly, Mr Vuk Jeremic
This bilateral meeting follows President Barroso's visit to the United Nations General Assembly in April.
The EU and the UN have shared a solid and fruitful cooperation for many years, and are continuously looking at ways this can be advanced. On Monday, President Barroso underlined the EU’s willingness to work constructively with the UN and support its engagement towards multilateralism.
President José Manuel Barroso and Mr Vuk Jeremic discussed the work and priorities of the next UN General Assembly. In particular, they addressed the promotion of peace and security, the implementation of Rio+20 outcomes and follow-up on the Millennium Development Goals, with emphasis on a coherent approach to the post-2015 framework, and the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Strengthening the effectiveness of the UN, including reforms in key areas such as management, peacekeeping, field support and financial sustainability, was considered by President Barroso as a strategic issue.
Meanwhile, President Barroso also stressed that climate change evidently remains a key priority, with the aim to adopt a comprehensive, robust and legally binding framework by 2015, applicable to all countries, developed and developing alike.
Barroso: EU-Libya relations shall be upgraded through a new agreement
Today President Barroso welcomed the Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan on his first official visit to the European Union. They discussed the current transition process in Libya and the overall situation in the region.
Today, President José Manuel Barroso met with Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in Brussels. President Barroso commended Mr Zeidan's attachment to a peaceful and democratic transition in Libya, and offered the support of the European Union.
"We want to be the partners of Libya in this process. We want to be at the side of the Libyans as they build a new modern Libya ", he said.
The EU's total programme of assistance to Libya now stands at €95 million.
President Barroso announced today that upgrading the EU-Libya relations through the conclusion of a bilateral Association agreement is key. "We know of course this will take time but it is something where both sides see an interest in investing time and energy. This agreement will provide the framework for the development of our relations for the long term", he said.
Furthermore, the civilian Common Security and Defence Policy mission, EU Border Assistance Mission Libya, which has just been agreed, will add to those efforts and will seek to reinforce Libyan capacities to manage its borders.
Syria: humanitarian tragedy requires an extraordinary response
The deteriorating situation in Syria, in particular the grave humanitarian picture, was the topic when President Barroso met with leading UN officials in Brussels on Monday.
There are at least 6.8 million people inside Syria who are in need of assistance. The EU is the main donor to the Syrian people, with more than €800 million committed both in Syria and its neighbours, and the UN agencies are the EU's main partners in routing this assistance to its recipients. More than 60% of the EU's assistance is delivered in partnership with the UN.
President Barroso met Mr. António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Baroness Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, and Mrs Etharin Cousin, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme.
After the meeting, the President said: "I fear that Syria is now the biggest humanitarian crisis of the last decade. To address the deteriorating situation on the ground, we have further increased our humanitarian support as the largest donor. And we plan to do even more in the future, since this extraordinary situation requires extraordinary means. We are also upgrading our comprehensive help to the other countries in the region, notably Lebanon and Jordan, with our neighbourhood policy and macro-economic tools".
The President also stressed: "The EU is strongly backing the current momentum for a peace conference on Syria. Clearly, there is no easy way forward, but a political settlement is still the best possible solution".