Poverty: one of the main priorities of the European Union
'Any progress in thwarting the scourge of poverty is a success for our common values,' declared President Barroso in a video message broadcast during the conference 'Poverty, between reality and perceptions: the communication challenge'. This event was organised in Brussels to mark the launch of 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. Unable to attend in person due to meetings related to the preparation of the European Council, the President nevertheless wished to speak by this means in order to explain how strongly he felt about the issue. At present almost 80 million people in Europe are on the poverty line, including 19 million children.
Fight against climate change: Europe cannot be the only locomotive in the negotiations
During the press conference of the Tripartite Social Summit which focused to the implementation of the European stimulus measures, president Barroso raised the issue of the progress in the negotiations leading to Copenhagen and the need to get agreement internally on financing during the Council. "Everybody is committed, from the trade unions to the business community, to see the benefits to develop a greener economy. At the same time, everybody considered that the others have to do the same efforts than Europe".
"The last political obstacle to the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty has been overcome"
These were President Barroso’s words on Thursday evening during the press conference held at the close of the first day of the European Council. Heads of state and European government leaders have accepted to grant the Czech Republic the derogation that it has been requesting in order to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, thus removing ‘the last political obstacle’ to its entry into force. This comes at the end of a process that the President compared to a marathon dotted with high jumps. The Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer confirmed that ‘if the Constitutional Court – which is still to pronounce its decision on Tuesday 3 November with regard to an appeal lodged by members of the Senate – orders that the Lisbon Treaty is in line with the Czech constitution, there are no further obstacles to a speedy completion of the ratification’.
President Barroso names new head of Cabinet, deputy head of Cabinet and Commission spokeswoman
Commission president Barroso named Mr Johannes Laitenberger, currently head of the Commission's Spokesperson's Service and Commission spokesman, as new head of his Cabinet, as of 1 November 2009. Mr Laitenberger succeeds Mr João Vale de Almeida, who was appointed earlier this year as the Commission's director-general for external relations and who will take up his new role on 1 November 2009. Mr Vale de Almeida will continue to personally assist the president in the capacity of G8/G20 sherpa. Mr Fernando Frutuoso de Melo, currently director in the Commission's Secretariat General, will take over as deputy head of the Cabinet, also on 1 November 2009. He succeeds Mr Jean-Claude Thébault, who was today appointed as a deputy secretary general of the Commission, taking up his role also on 1 November 2009. Ms Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, currently deputy spokeswoman of the Commission, will on 1 November 2009 take over as Commission spokeswoman, succeeding Mr Laitenberger.
The protection of fundamental rights will be high on the agenda of the Commission
President Barroso had a working lunch with the new secretary-general of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland on the occasion of his first visit abroad. Former president of the Storting - the Norwegian Parliament - Mr Jagland took office on 1 October 2009. As he did at the ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the Council of Europe three weeks ago, president Barroso welcomed the close cooperation with the Council of Europe. He also took the opportunity of this meeting to announce to Mr Jagland that he intends to establish a new "human rights" portfolio covering the fields of justice, fundamental rights and civil liberties within the next Commission in order to allow an even stronger emphasis on these policy areas.
Meeting with the prime minister of São Tomé
President Barroso met Joaquim Rafael Branco, prime minister of São Tomé and Príncipe, in Brussels. The visit was an opportunity to exchange views on the country's perspectives and the bilateral cooperation between the European Union and São Tomé and Príncipe. President Barroso gave a positive assessment of recent developments. This was the first such formal meeting with prime minister Branco. Prime minister Branco assumed his post in June 2008 after a period of governmental instability.
European House opens in Vienna
In the presence of Heinz Fischer, President of the Federal Republic of Austria, President Barroso, accompanied by Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, inaugurated the new European Commission and European Parliament building in the heart of Vienna. President Barroso pledged that dialogue with the citizens and the different actors in civil society, a hallmark of the current Commission, will continue to be of critical importance under the next Commission. The EC will redouble its efforts to have a real Commission presence communicating on the ground in the Member States and in the regions, in partnership with the European Parliament, listening to citizens and dealing first hand with their questions and concerns. However, he pointed out that the gap in awareness of the EU can only be closed in full partnership with all actors at national, regional and local level.
Meeting with the Czech prime minister
During a meeting at the Berlaymont, the Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, informed president Barroso in detail on the new developments on the issue of the ratification process. "We certainly hope that no artificial obstacles are raised at this time, bearing in mind that the democratic approval of the Treaty by the Czech Parliament has already taken place", president Barroso commented during the press conference. "It is in the interests of nobody, least of all the interests of the Czech Republic, to delay matters further."
Supporting the Cyprus settlement process
The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, has decided to appoint Mr Leopold Maurer as his personal Representative to the Good Offices Mission of the United Nations in Cyprus. This designation follows a request by the United Nations and is a further demonstration that president Barroso and the European Commission are committed to supporting the Cyprus settlement process. Mr Maurer will provide advice to the UN Good Offices Mission on EU-related matters.
Signature ceremony for the Lisbon Treaty in Poland
At the invitation of Poland's president, Mr Lech Kaczynski, president Barroso will attend the signing ceremony for Poland's instrument of ratification for the Lisbon Treaty. The ceremony will take place on Saturday 10 October at 12:00 in Warsaw.
Consolidation of EU-China relations
President Barroso welcomed the vice president of China, Xi Jinping, to the Berlaymont on his first visit to Brussels. The president raised the topics of the upcoming summit, expected to take place at the end of November in China, and the EU priorities regarding the global agenda for which EU and China share responsibilities. Both parties expressed commitment to success in Copenhagen at the end of the year, and president Barroso again acknowledged the efforts announced by Hu Jintao in New York to this effect. Later on, both attended the opening of the arts festival Europalia. For its 40th anniversary, Brussels and its neighbouring regions will celebrate the diversity of Chinese culture by hosting hundreds of breathtaking events during the coming four months.
EU-Brazil summit to focus on climate change and the economic crisis
President Barroso attended the 3rd EU-Brazil summit in Stockholm alongside Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and commissioners Ferrero-Waldner and Ashton. They held discussions with president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil. Summit leaders addressed key global challenges such as climate change and the global economic situation and will review progress in the implementation of the EU-Brazil joint action plan, which was adopted in December 2008. The EU is Brazil's biggest trading partner, accounting for 25% of its exports and 22% of its imports. It is also the main investor in Brazil and the first destination of Brazilian foreign direct investment.
Mr Maroš Šefčovič, new member of the College, will be responsible for education, training, culture and youth
Following the resignation of Mr Ján Figel', who has been elected as chairman of the Christian Democratic Movement in Slovakia, Mr Maroš Šefčovič has been designated by the Slovak Government for appointment as member of the Commission, in agreement with the Commission president José Manuel Barroso. These decisions take effect today. President Barroso entrusted the education, training, culture and youth portfolio to Mr Maroš Šefčovič.
Mr Šefčovič’s background [18 KB]
The appointment procedure [15 KB]