High-Level Meeting on Disability
European Commission President Barroso participated, together with European Parliament President Buzek, European Council President Van Rompuy and European Commission Vice-President Reding, in the first European Disability Forum. The forum discussed issues facing the estimated 80 million Europeans with disabilities. President Barroso said: "The European Union must be attentive to the situation of people with disabilities." He explained that the European Disability Strategy sets an ambitious agenda for the next 10 years. "The EU remains committed to empowering people with disabilities so that they can enjoy their full rights, and benefit fully from participating in society and the economy," the President added.
Appointment of Chief Scientific Advisor
President Barroso has today appointed the Commission's first Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Anne Glover saying: "I believe her outstanding background and calibre will bring invaluable expertise to the Commission. She has a strong track record in leading the Scottish Science Advisory Committee which made her the standout candidate for this post." The Chief Scientific Advisor will provide advice directly to the President, and will give regular updates on major scientific and technological developments.
Video message for the Food and Agriculture Organization
"The European Commission has always been at the forefront in the fight against hunger and malnutrition," underlined President Barroso in a video message for the 143rd Session of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Council. He stressed that alone the European Commission allocates about €800 million a year to agriculture, food security, territorial planning and rural development, which are focal sectors of the Commission's work in more than 40 countries worldwide. President Barroso: "In our 21st century world, it is simply unacceptable that human beings remain hungry. The international community must redouble its efforts to ensure that the most basic of human needs – access to food – is not a luxury, but a fact of life for us all."
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Message on Treaty change
President Barroso reiterated today his position on the issue of Treaty change. He stressed that "Treaty change may be necessary for reinforcing the Euro area governance and we are supporting the idea provided it is to reinforce the European union, provided it is not to divide the European Union." The President said: "With some conditions we believe Treaty change can be a contribution to show one very important thing – that the euro is irreversible, that all the member states of the European Union and of the euro area remain united supporting their common currency."
Message on the need for growth and enhancing measures
President Barroso commented on the need for growth and enhancing measures to complement fiscal consolidation efforts. He reminded that the Commission proposed yesterday extra support for small companies using structural funds. "It is a complete innovation, because of the lack of funding for small companies, that we have seen in many countries in Europe, we have adopted legislation that allows us to use structural funds to fund the small and medium sized companies. Up to €5bn can be used to attract additional private funding of 6 times that value." This extra support for small companies using structural funds is extremely important and it shows that we have committed to growth. The President also underlined that the Commission will next week propose a legislation to make more cross-border funding accessible for Europe's 23 million SMEs. "These will put down barriers that limit the supply of venture capital," he explained. In conclusion he called on Member States to "speed up their decisions on these very important matters because growth is also important to overcome the current difficulties in the Euro area and in the European Union."
Meeting with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community
President Barroso today met the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Derviş Eroğlu. President Barroso welcomed the results of the tripartite meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General in New York on 30 – 31 October, where some encouraging progress was made. He stressed that "what counts now is to reach agreement on all internal aspects of the settlement by the next tripartite meeting in January 2012." The President also underlined that the Turkish Cypriots will greatly benefit from reunification.
Meeting with the Minister-President of Hessen, Germany
President Barroso received the Minister-President of Hessen, Germany, Mr Volker Bouffier. They focused on the current sovereign debt crisis and the need for continued and determined action to tackle it, including through deeper integration and greater discipline. Other issues in the discussion concerned airport ground-handling services and the inclusion of aviation in the European Emissions Trading Scheme. Minister-President Bouffier also handed over an invitation to the world-famous art exhibition dOCUMENTA which will take place in Kassel (Hessen) in 2012.
Barroso's Task Force for Northern Ireland in Belfast
The members of the EC Northern Ireland Task Force are visiting Belfast to discuss with the Northern Ireland departments their priorities for the future. President Barroso said: "I was the first international leader to meet Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness after agreement on restoration of the political institutions in May 2007. We have seen good progress in the last four years. I want to see more. I'm delighted that the Task Force is back in Belfast to give a new momentum to this work".
President Barroso received the Steiger Award, Bochum, Germany
President Barroso received the Steiger Award 2011 in the category "Europe" for his efforts to build a strong Europe, to shape the international community of states and for his vision of a young, modern, tolerant Europe based on solidarity. Among the other award-winning personalities in 2011 were the famous actor Klaus Maria Brandauer, the rock stars Roger Daltrey and Mark Knopfler, Egon Bahr and Cherie Blair.
Meeting with the UK Prime Minister David Cameron
President Barroso met with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron at Number 10 today. The main points of discussion were the shared commitment to boost growth and jobs in Europe and the Union's measures to tackle the economic crisis, as well as action to deepen the Single Market. They agreed on the need for the EU to focus on concrete and ambitious actions to reignite growth in the EU, the most important market for UK business.
Visit of the European Ombudsman
Today, the College of Commissioners met the European Ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, and discussed his future priorities and the changes brought about to his work by the Treaty of Lisbon. Europeans have the right to good administration and the right to refer cases of alleged maladministration in the EU institutions or bodies to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman has a crucial role in helping the EU institutions and bodies to deliver the rights guaranteed by the treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights to citizens.
Dinner with leaders of the Visegrád Group, Romania, Bulgaria
President Barroso met with the leaders of the Visegrád Group and of Romania and Bulgaria to discuss the North-South initiative and the EU's strategic energy infrastructure. President Barroso said: "Energy infrastructure is a backbone of our internal market and crucial for Europe's security and prosperity. The North-South initiative will connect the power sources of the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Sea regions. We will now establish a concrete list of projects to be tackled."