"New Narrative for Europe": Artists, scientists and intellectuals standing up for Europe and against populism
On Saturday 1 March, in the presence of President Barroso and Chancellor Merkel, artists, scientists and intellectuals will unveil a "New Narrative for Europe" which mobilises the cultural world and citizens for Europe. The declaration will outline why Europe matters and why we have to fight for Europe and against nationalism and populism.
The New Narrative for Europe is a project proposed by the European Parliament and implemented by the European Commission following the call issued by Commission President Barroso in his 2012 State of the Union Address to artists, writers, thinkers, scientists and cultural practitioners who are committed to the future of Europe and the European project.
During the launch event in April 2013 President Barroso stated: "We need to continue to tell the story of Europe. Like a book it cannot only stay in the first pages, even if the first pages were extremely beautiful. We have to continue our narrative, continue to write the book of the present and of the future. This is why we need a new narrative for Europe.”
The concept is based on the idea that the post-war theme of "peace through a common market" needed to be replaced by a new ‘version 2.0’, in line with a changed world. The evolving reality of the European continent needed to be taken into account, bringing cultural unity and common values in a globalised world to the front.
The New Narrative project now gives artists, intellectuals and scientists a space for long-term discussion and expression about Europe.
Online registration for journalists (deadline Wednesday, 26 February, 8:00 p.m.)
President Barroso receives Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka
During a meeting today, President Barroso and Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka discussed the new Czech government and its agenda of reinforcing relations with the European Union. They also touched upon the upcoming European Council in March as well as the situation in Ukraine.
Following a meeting today with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "I believe Prime Minister Sobotka's taking up office marks a new start. He and his government are pushing the reset button on many fronts, and of course in relation to the European Union. The Czech Republic is taking back its role as an active and constructive member of our European family."
During the meeting, the upcoming European Council in March was being discussed which the President called "important step in co-ordinating our economic policies", as well as the situation in Ukraine.
President Barroso said: "As you know, the situation is very difficult and remains extremely volatile. The immediate and urgent priority is to avoid further bloodshed and save human lives. This is also the message I conveyed yesterday to President Yanukovych. The authorities have a special responsibility in ensuring it and demonstrators also need to keep the peaceful nature of the protests. An immediate end to the violence and a meaningful dialogue, responding to democratic aspirations of the people of Ukraine is the only way to solve the political and institutional crisis. As you know, the European Union has been offering its sincere assistance to facilitate dialogue and de-escalate the situation. We have also reiterated our offer of political association and economic integration. But what we have to do now, the most immediate thing is to put an end to violence, violence to stop as soon as possible. We cannot forget the images of the last days and the tragic deaths and injuries of so many people. This is why the Foreign Affairs Council will meet today to discuss the adoption of targeted measures against those responsible for violence and use of excessive force. We will continue engaged and committed to a political, democratic and peaceful solution of the situation in Ukraine together with our international partners.
And I am happy to see that there is now a broad consensus among our Member States in the way to deal with this issue. Just yesterday during a meeting with important delegation of business leaders, I spoke about these matters with President Hollande of France and Chancellor Merkel of Germany and, in fact, I have understood how deep is also their commitment to find a peaceful solution and today in the meeting with Prime Minister Sobotka, I have seen the same concerns and determination."
President Barroso meets French, German and EU business leaders to discuss competitiveness
President Barroso has said the keys to boosting competitiveness are EU policies on industry, energy, trade and employment, coupled with continued reforms at national level.
President Barroso has said the keys to boosting competitiveness are EU policies on industry, energy, trade and employment, coupled with continued reforms at national level.
He made the comments ahead of a joint meeting with French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT) in Paris on 19 February.
President Barroso said that although the economic situation had improved in the past year, there was still a lot to do to bring down high unemployment in Europe.
"We have to do more for growth and jobs," President Barroso said, describing four "levers" at EU level that can help European companies compete on the world stage: industrial policy, climate and energy policy, trade policy and employment policy.
He also welcomed the outcome of a Franco-German ministerial meeting earlier in the day, particularly on the issue of digital technologies.
"When it comes to industrial policy, the Commission has launched the idea of an industrial renaissance in Europe, with concrete targets, which is also linked to our digital agenda," President Barroso said. "There is more and more integration between our digital capacity - everything that has to do with new technology, information and communications technology - and our industrial capacity."
He thanked President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel for their support for the EU's new 2030 climate and energy targets, which he said would "reduce costs to competitiveness" for businesses. He also said the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the EU's support for Youth Guarantees were important to boost growth and jobs.
He finished by saying that it was crucial for investor and consumer confidence to continue the reform effort at national level.
"Today we see in the international press how countries like Ireland and Portugal are becoming the new stars of the reform effort. But it is not only for countries that were or still are under assistance programmes to make the effort, it's for the entire EU," he said, welcoming recent reforms to improve competitiveness in France and Germany.
"Confidence is an essential variable for growth," President Barroso concluded. "I believe that with the engagement of governments and businesses, Europe can hope for a more ambitious recovery than previously thought."
Statement by President Barroso on Ukraine
"It was with shock and utter dismay that we have been watching developments over the last 24 hours in Ukraine. There are no circumstances that can legitimise or justify such scenes. We extend our deepest condolences to the victims and their families." Read the full statement.
"It was with shock and utter dismay that we have been watching developments over the last 24 hours in Ukraine. There are no circumstances that can legitimise or justify such scenes. We extend our deepest condolences to the victims and their families. We condemn in the strongest terms the use of violence as a way to solve a political and institutional crisis. It is the political leadership of the country that has a responsibility to ensure the necessary protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. We call on all sides to immediately put an end to the violence and engage into a meaningful dialogue, responding to the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people.
The EU has been offering its sincere assistance to facilitate political dialogue between the sides and de-escalate the situation. We continue to believe that constitutional reform, formation of a new inclusive government and creating conditions for democratic elections constitute the only way-out of this deep and long-lasting political crisis. We have made it clear we stand ready to support Ukraine on this road of reforms, towards democracy, stability and prosperity. We have made it clear that our offer of political association and economic integration remains on the table, and does not constitute the final goal in our cooperation.
Yet, we have also made it clear that the EU will respond to any deterioration on the ground. We therefore expect that targeted measures against those responsible for violence and use of excessive force can be agreed by our Member States as a matter of urgency, as proposed by the High Representative / Vice President."
President Barroso at the ESPAS Conference: On analysing global trends and their implications for the European Union
Today, President Barroso participated in an 'In Conversation' session at the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System conference (ESPAS).
Under the title "Global Trends 2030: Key Challenges Ahead for the European Union", the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) has organised a two-day conference on 17 and 18 February 2014 in Brussels devoted to some of the key questions Europe could address in the coming years. The conference focuses on the future of the European economy, on Europe's response to resource scarcity and Europe's role in an increasingly polycentric world.
President Barroso participated this morning in one-hour 'In Conversation' session of the conference, moderated by John Peet, the Europe Editor of the Economist. He congratulated the organisers and said "I particularly appreciate the intensive co-operation that has developed among the participating organisations in the ESPAS project. Sharing insights and diagnosing challenges across the institutions is something the Union needs to do more of in the years to come. This will contribute to shaping a common strategic basis across the European Union institutions as a catalyst for a more effective policy making process."
Conference Programme available online.
President Barroso meets with leaders of the American Jewish Committee (AJC)
Today President Barroso meets with the leaders of the American Jewish Committee (ACJ) to discuss EU-Israel bilateral relations.
Established in 1906, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) is one of the oldest Jewish advocacy organizations in the United States, and established an office in Brussels in 2004.
This meeting takes place just before the 10th anniversary of this "Transatlantic Institute" in Brussels, which aims "to strengthen the transatlantic bond and foster dialogue between the US and the EU on issues of mutual concern in the fields of global security, Middle East peace, and human rights."
During this courtesy visit, President Barroso and his visitors are discussing EU-Israel bilateral relations in general, as well as the mutual commitment to fighting anti-Semitism in all its forms.
President Barroso participates in The Andrew Marr Show
On 16th February 2014, President Barroso participated in the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show.
On 16th February 2014, President Barroso participated in the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show, to answer a series of questions which have been dominating the British public sphere.
In answer to a question on the possibility of renegotiating the free movement of people, President Barroso answered: "We have to make a clear distinction. One thing is freedom of movement - I don't think it is possible to renegotiate. It's a fundamental principle of the internal market. We have an internal market based on freedom of movement, goods, services, capital and people. The British people, the British companies, have unrestricted access to the internal market. So I don't think it's possible. But to fight against abuse of the freedom of movement, this is certainly possible. In fact we have already now reinforced the rules, so we are tough against abuse, the so called social tourism. That is a legitimate concern that we can address, but without putting in question – and there we have to be very firm – the extremely important principle as freedom of movement, that, by the way, is as important for Britain as the internal market is."
On an eventual British referendum pushing for a change of the EU treaties: "The reforms of the treaties are extremely difficult in the EU, because they require unanimity. So any point that Britain wants to make for a reform of the treaty requires the other 27 countries – they are sovereign countries as well – to accept. And by the same way, any reforms the others want to make require also Britain to accept. I think if there is goodwill, if there is intelligence on all sides, it is possible, provided there is not an attempt to put in question the basic principles of our union and the integrity of our union. Because the challenge is precisely that one: we need to have a deepening of the internal market – and from that point of view I have to say that the British government and Prime Minister Cameron himself they have been very supportive, because they understand perfectly well that is also in the interest of Britain, and indeed in the interest of the world to have financial stability. But at the same time, to deepen the euro area, we should keep the integrity of the single market so that British citizens and companies continue to have access to the internal market, which represents, according to the estimates of the British government, 90 billion pounds per year for the British economy. So it's extremely important not to put that at risk."
President Barroso discusses Moldova with President Băsescu of Romania
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso met today with the Romanian President Traian Băsescu. The main topic of their meeting was Moldova, in particular the EU's commitment to sign the Association Agreement with Moldova.
"Last November, at the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit, the commitment was made to sign the Association Agreement with Moldova as soon as possible (…). This is a very important signal we are sending. The Agreement will be a real breakthrough in terms of Moldova's European path. Together with European reforms, it will strengthen the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova", President Barroso said at the press point with President Băsescu.
The two Presidents also talked about Romania's economic situation. "I made clear to President Băsescu that the Commission remains strongly committed to supporting the necessary reforms in Romania through – amongst others – the new Balance of Payments programme and the Country-specific recommendations", the President stressed.
The progress still to be made by Romania regarding the independence of the judiciary and the implementation of anti-corruption measures, as highlighted in the Commission's latest Cooperation and verification mechanism report, were also discussed.
President Barroso also commented on the free movement of citizens: "You cannot have a single market without freedom of movement", he added. "Of course, we will work hard with Member States to tackle abuse, but – and I say this very clearly – the core principle of free movement of citizens must not be called into question".
President Barroso speaks at the London School of Economics
On the 14th of February 2014, President Barroso held a speech at the London School of Economics about "Reforming Europe in a changing world".
During a speech held on the 14th of February 2014 at the London School of Economics, President Barroso touched upon European integration, better regulation, and issues like trade and the free movement of people. He reminded the audience that "European integration has been and remains one of our best tools to manage and benefit from globalisation". The speech, entitled "Reforming Europe in a changing world", stressed the importance of debate as the President explained that "Flexibility is necessary. That does not mean we should move to a Europe à la carte, nor would it be right to put into question our shared values and principles". President Barroso also addressed the so-called "British question" and said: "The European Union would not have become what it is today if it weren't for British politicians and entrepreneurs, British thinkers and British ideas. Without the UK, Europe would be less reform-driven, less open, and less international. Less effective as a tool for managing and benefitting from globalisation. For a country so open to the world, it's a paradox that the UK remains so torn on Europe". He continued by saying that "The European Union is not some diktat forced upon Member States. It is created by Member States to work with and for them and promote our shared European interest at home and in dealing with the rest of the world. The UK, which is very good at selling its views and promoting its interests in the European Union, is a lot stronger as a result of it", and finished by stating: "When it comes to the British question […] the British people can decide for themselves. My very personal, very strong conviction is that the EU is better off with the UK, and the UK is better off in the European Union".
President Barroso and Prime Minister Rutte discuss EU priorities
President Barroso has congratulated Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his government for helping to steer the Netherlands and Europe through the crisis, with both agreeing that EU member states should keep up the reform momentum.
President Barroso has congratulated Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his government for helping to steer the Netherlands and Europe through the crisis, with both agreeing that EU member states should keep up the reform momentum.
During a meeting at the European Commission in Brussels on 13 February, the two leaders also discussed the division of competences between the EU and its member states, and how EU leaders should engage with citizens ahead of the upcoming European Parliament elections.
"I commended Prime Minister Rutte and his coalition for the central part they played in steering the Dutch economy through the worst of this crisis" President Barroso told the gathered press on 13 February, following his meeting with Prime Minister Rutte. "A very open and dynamic economy at the heart of the EU and its internal market such as the Netherlands is in a good position to benefit from the pick-up that is now underway," he added.
The two leaders agreed that the best way to strengthen the recovery is to keep up the reform momentum. "To boost growth and bring down high unemployment, Mark Rutte and I agreed that we must keep doing everything we can to maintain sound public finances and make our economies fitter – that is, reforms for increased competitiveness," President Barroso said, congratulating Mr Rutte for the important reforms already agreed in The Netherlands.
President Barroso said that the priority at EU level was to agree on a Single Resolution Mechanism for banks before the European Parliament elections in May. "The Netherlands has consistently supported deeper integration in the euro area, and the Banking Union in particular, for which I am very grateful," he said.
With the upcoming elections in mind, President Barroso urged national politicians to "leave their comfort zones" and be honest with citizens about the benefits of the EU. "I think we must explain to citizens why Member States have entrusted Europe with certain tasks and competences, and how we are working together to make the European Union more efficient – which is, of course, in all of our interests," President Barroso said. "We have to be honest, we cannot now undo the European project," he added. "What we have to do is to review the legislation in a way that makes it lighter, cheaper and, of course, more business- and citizen-friendly," he said, adding that this would be a "joint effort" between the EU and member states. "Making our Union better is not something that only happens in Brussels."
President Barroso said that there was "a lot still to achieve" before the elections, and thanked Prime Minister Rutte for his "excellent cooperation and his commitment to ensuring the Netherlands continues to play its rightful role at the heart of Europe".
President Barroso hails the success of the Tunisian constitutional project
Today, President Barroso received the President of the National Assembly of Tunisia, Mr. Ben Jaafar. They discussed the democratic transition in Tunisia and relations between the EU and Tunisia.
The visit of President Jaafar to Brussels followed the adoption of a new Tunisian Constitution and appointment of a new government.
President Barroso took this opportunity to hail the success of the constitutional project, and in particular its inclusive nature. He also encouraged the continuing efforts towards democratic transition as well as the progress made on the macro-economic, social and security strategies.
The EU supports Tunisia through macro-financial assistance and proposals for deepening relations between the EU and the country. In terms of trade, the establishment of a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with Tunisia remains the main objective of the EU.
Meeting with WTO Director-General Azevêdo
European Commission President Barroso met WTO Director-General Azevêdo to discuss trade matters.
After the meeting, President Barroso emphasized the EU's strong commitment to the multilateral trading system. "The European Commission made a very important contribution to the successful WTO ministerial in Bali and I congratulated Ambassador Azevêdo on the decisive role he played in brokering that agreement.", said President Barroso. "The expansion of trade opportunities remains one of the main sources of global growth. That is why trade is an integral part of the EU's agenda for bolstering economic growth and creating jobs."
President Barroso and Ambassador Azevêdo also exchanged views on trade issues in the context of the G20, and on the Free Trade Agreements the EU is currently negotiating.
Report shows how EU emerged from recession in 2013
Last year was the year Europe's efforts to beat the crisis finally began to pay off, the General Report on the EU's activities for 2013 has found.
Some of the EU's achievements over the last year include adopting rules to tighten up budgetary coordination in the euro area (Two Pack laws), agreeing on a Single Supervisory Mechanism for banks, adopting an ambitious seven-year budget (the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-20) and coming up with new ways to tackle high youth unemployment – including through a youth guarantee and a €6 billion fund at EU level.
"In 2013 we see that our efforts have started to pay off," President Barroso wrote in a foreword to the report. "For Europe, recovery is within sight," he added. "Laying the foundations of a renewed Union of stability and responsibility, growth and solidarity is a long, complex and at times painful process. But we are making steady progress, at both the European and the national level."
The EU also played a strong role in addressing global issues in 2013, including bringing about a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme, maintaining a political dialogue in Syria and strengthening stability and democracy in Europe’s neighbourhood, both in north Africa and in eastern Europe. Last year also saw an EU-facilitated agreement between Kosovo and Serbia that opened the door to a normalisation of their relations. And 2013 was the year the EU began historic and wide-ranging talks on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US.
"There is still a lot of work to be done to put our economies firmly back on track, to significantly reverse the trend of unemployment, to ensure a properly functioning economic and monetary union with a stronger social dimension and to enhance our Union’s democratic legitimacy and accountability," President Barroso said, adding that Europe would shows its "will to act, to shape our destiny, to rise to the challenge over and over again".
The General Report on the Activities of the European Union is published every year, and illustrates the actions undertaken by the European institutions and the most important developments and achievements of the European Union in the preceding year. The Report is available online in PDF and e-book versions in 23 languages or can be ordered in hard copy from the EU bookshop .
Report is available online in PDF and e-book versions in 23 languages
President Barroso received the Minister-President of Niedersachsen, Stephan Weil
Today President Barroso received the minister-president of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Stephan Weil, and the vice minister-president and minister for the environment, energy and climate, Stefan Wezel.
President Barroso received the minister-president of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Stephan Weil, and the vice minister-president and minister for the environment, energy and climate, Stefan Wezel.
The discussion centred on the EU's climate and energy policies. President Barroso explained the Commission's proposal for an EU's energy and climate policy framework for 2030, which strikes a balance between ambition, including on renewables, and the need to maintain and increase the competitiveness of European industry.
He also outlined the rationale of the Commission's current state aid investigation regarding the German renewable energy act (EEG - see press release of 18 December 2013), underlining that its outcome cannot be prejudged. He referred to the Commission's critical role in ensuring a level playing field for companies in the Single Market and reassured minister-president Weil that the Commission is aware of German concerns.
He finally praised Germany for its commitment to energy transition and emphasised that the EU's climate and energy policies are conducive to it.
EU statement on the agreement reached by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders
The EU welcomes the agreement announced by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders on a Joint Declaration.
President Barroso and President Van Rompuy made the following statement:
"The European Union welcomes the agreement announced today by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders on a Joint Declaration, which lays a solid foundation for resumption of negotiations for a fair and viable comprehensive settlement of the long-standing Cyprus problem. This Joint Declaration should help them to swiftly address matters of substance and to achieve rapid results in the negotiations. President Barroso and President Van Rompuy congratulate and salute the courage the two leaders have shown in agreeing it.
At the time of accession of Cyprus, the European Union declared its readiness to accommodate the terms of a settlement in line with the principles on which the Union is founded. As previously announced, the European Commission is keen to play its part in supporting the negotiations, conducted under UN auspices and to offer all the support the parties and the UN find most useful. As the negotiations resume, President Barroso's personal representative will contribute actively to the search for constructive solutions in compliance with the EU acquis to overcome outstanding problems. In parallel, the European Commission will also step up its efforts to help the Turkish Cypriot Community prepare for implementation of the acquis.
The European Union also supports the efforts to reach an agreement between the two parties on a package of Confidence-Building Measures which can help to create momentum towards a settlement to the benefit of Cypriot people. The European Union stands ready to look creatively at how to contribute to this objective in the prospects of a final settlement. "
President Barroso receives Dresden Medal of Saint George
In Dresden President Barroso receives the Medal of Saint George (Sankt Georgs Orden) in the category "politics" for his long-standing commitment to European integration, values and unity.
On Friday 7 February, President Barroso visits Dresden (Germany) upon invitation of the regional government of Saxony.
President Barroso receives the Medal of Saint George (Sankt Georgs Orden) in the category "politics". It is awarded by the organisers of the Semper Opera ball taking place on the same evening and which President Barroso attends together with minister-president Tillich. Mr Tillich delivers the laudatory speech.
President Barroso is decorated with the Medal of Saint George for his long-standing commitment to European integration, his passion for Europe as a community of values and for his tireless work to keep Europe united in particularly challenging times and making it fit for the future.
The other award winners this year are:
1. Catherine Deneuve
2. Queen Silvia of Sweden
3. Thomas Gottschalk
4. Udo Jürgens
5. The citizens of Dresden
On Saturday 8 February, President Barroso pays a visit to the semiconductor manufacturer "Globalfoundries" whose production site in Dresden is the largest of its kind in Europe.
Read the press release by SemperOpernball of 23 January 2014
President Barroso met Prime Minister of Latvia, Ms Laimdota Straujuma
President Barroso met today with Latvian Prime Minister Straujuma to discuss mainly the economic situation and structural reforms in Latvia. Education reform, energy issues as well as structural and investment funds were also addressed.
During the meeting President Barroso acknowledged Latvia's economic achievements and encouraged Prime Minister Straujuma to continue the economic and structural reforms that have proved so successful for Latvia to make it the fastest growing economy in the EU.
After Latvia's smooth entry into the euro zone, it is even more important for Latvia to maintain structural reform efforts and a vigilant economic policy, President Barroso stressed.
European Commission President Barroso welcomed the fact that Latvia has been able to make good use of the structural and investment funds for the 2007-2013 period, with good financial execution of the funds. Welcoming Latvia's timely submission of its Partnership Agreement, the President underlined the importance of strategic planning for the 2014-2020 period, focusing funds on stimulating growth and jobs.
Leaders also discussed energy issues in Latvia. President Barroso welcomed the priority the new government is giving to the liberalisation of the gas market, and the progress made in opening the electricity market and he reiterated the Commission's support to Latvia and the Baltic region in their striving to be connected to the EU energy infrastructure.
President Barroso assured Prime Minister Straujuma Commission's support and assistance and warmly welcomed that the new Latvian government will give high priority to the fight against unemployment, in particular among the young; addressing poverty; and reforming higher education.
President Barroso meets with the Prime Minister of Mali
President Barroso met today with the Prime Minister of Mali, Mr Oumar Tatam Ly, for a follow-up of the Donors Conference for Development in Mali, held in Brussels on 15 May 2013, and to discuss the current situation in the country.
At the meeting President Barroso reaffirmed his commitment and support to Mali’s political transition, institutional reform and stabilisation process and welcomed Mali's efforts to overcome the country's recent difficult past.
President Barroso stressed that the successful 2013 elections in Mali show the willingness of the Malian people for a return to the rule of law, peace and security. The President also told the Prime Minister that the EU welcomes the recently elected government decision's to place reform, the fight against corruption and reconciliation at the heart of its programme.
The President also ensured Prime Minister Ly that Mali can count on EU's support in its efforts to reach peace and restore state authority.
The EU is also committed to its financial and military support to Mali in its response to the humanitarian crisis. Following the Donors Conference for development in Mali, held in Brussels on 15 May 2013, the EU already contributed with 238 million euros of the 523 million euros pledged by the European Commission for Mali. Around 5 billion euros will also be mobilised to the Sahel region for the period 2014-2020.
President Barroso and Prime Minister Ly also discussed the relations between Europe and Africa, ahead of the 4th EU-Africa Summit to be held in Brussels on 2-3 April this year.
President Barroso meets the President of the UN General Assembly John Ashe
Today, in Strasburg, President Barroso met the President of the UN General Assembly John Ashe. Mr Ashe is the Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations and has been elected President of the UN General Assembly last June. During this meeting, President Barroso and Mr Ashe reviewed major peace and security developments, namely in Syria and in Central African Republic. They also exchanged views on the Millenium Development Goals/Post 2015 agenda, and on the International climate negotiations.
President Barroso said he is “very satisfied with the overall cooperation between the EU and UN”. The President pointed that “the EU has been very active notably on the preparation of the post-2015 agenda and related events”. On the Post-2015 Development Framework, the President stated it is “an opportunity ahead of us to effectively deliver on the twin challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development. We cannot achieve one without the other”.
As for the International Climate negotiations, President Barroso pointed that “the EU will continue to take its share of responsibility and leadership”. He said he has proposed last month a strategic, ambitious EU framework on climate and energy until 2030. The proposal includes a domestic, unconditional 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 as compared to 1990 levels as well as an EU target for renewable energy (at least 27%).
President Barroso and Ambassador John Ashe also discussed the aid to Small Island and Developing States (SIDS). The EU is a long-standing partner of Small Island and Developing States (SIDS) and the partnership encompasses development and humanitarian aid (more than €3 billion in 2007-2012 to SIDS).
On Syria, President Barroso said that Geneva 2 is the only way to engage the opposition and the regime on the political transition. “We should spare no efforts to ensure that the parties that participated in Geneva 2 remain engaged throughout the process. We do hope that the two sides now meeting in Geneva will persevere in their mediation efforts and start through small steps to build confidence that will allow the de-escalation of conflict and lessen its impact on civilians”, he said. The EU overall assistance to Syria now amounts to €2.6 billion.
The President also expressed his concerns regarding the Central African Republic (CAR): “the EU remains deeply concerned by the extreme insecurity and instability in the Central African Republic: heavy civilian casualties, massive displacements of populations, several serious human rights violations and a dramatic worsening of the humanitarian situation”. He explained that the European Union “has responded swiftly to address the current crisis and combines humanitarian, stabilization and development support”.
The Commission has increased its allocation up to €39 million and has furthermore substantially scaled up its humanitarian engagement. “Given the complex challenges the country is facing”, the President said, “it is essential that the international community remains actively engaged in the long-term”.
President Barroso meets the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency
President Barroso met today the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mr Yukiya Amano. The IAEA is an independent organisation in the United Nations system tasked with international co-operation in the nuclear field. President Barroso and Mr Amano reviewed the ever stronger EU – IAEA relations, including financial cooperation, and also discussed the Iran nuclear issue.
"The EU has a long-standing co-operation with the IAEA in a number of important areas, including nuclear safety and security, and nuclear energy research. I am keen that this co-operation should continue and develop", said the President during the meeting.
Achieving the highest standards in nuclear safety has always been a priority for the EU, especially following the Fukushima accident. "For our part, we have responded to this tragic event by strengthening our EU nuclear safety architecture and seeking to enhance nuclear security worldwide. In this, the IAEA is clearly our primary and indispensable partner", the President added.
The EU is among the main financial contributors to the IAEA, with a total support of €147 million. In the meeting, the President announced that the Commission plans to extend its financial support to IAEA's integrated regulatory review services, with an annual budget of €1 million for the next three years.
"The Commission will continue to rely on the IAEA for peer reviews of nuclear safety and nuclear waste activities in our Member States", stressed President Barroso. "Moreover, we intend to continue support in areas such as the promotion of a nuclear safety culture, the development and application of nuclear safeguards and the sage management of nuclear waste, with a focus on Ukraine and on Central Asia", he added.
On 24-25 March, President Barroso will attend the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, together with fellow world leaders, to further advance the global nuclear security and safety agenda.
President Barroso meets the Prime Minister of Georgia
Today President Barroso met with the Prime Minister of Georgia, Mr Irakli Garibashvili, on his first official visit to Brussels after his appointment in November last year. President Barroso welcomed Georgia's reform path and European integration process and expressed his confidence in the future of EU and Georgia's relations.
Georgia is one of the leading performers in the Eastern Partnership. This meeting comes after the full initialling of the Association Agreement/Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area at the Vilnius Summit last November. EU and Georgia are expected to sign this Agreement in 2014.
"This step fully reflects Georgia’s determination to European values and European integration for which I commend Prime Minister's and previous governments ", President Barroso said.
The President added: "At the same time, it is crucial to sustain Georgia's important achievements towards good governance, strong political institutions and effective policies to promote economic growth. I particularly welcome Georgia's 2020 strategy for economic development and relevant reforms for our Visa Liberalisation Dialogue."
President Barroso urged the recently appointed Prime Minister to continue to pay careful attention to defending political pluralism and media freedom: "I particularly emphasised the importance of ensuring that criminal prosecutions are evidence-based, transparent, free of political motivation, impartial, and fully in line with democratic values".
During the meeting the President of the European Commission and the Prime Minister of Georgia also discussed the country's achievements in human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly the rights of minorities.
The recent developments in conflict resolution in Georgia were also on the table. President Barroso welcomed the continuing diplomatic contacts between Georgia and the Russian Federation as an important way to assure stability and security for the region.
President Barroso meets the Secretary of State of San Marino and the Head of the Andorran Government
Today, President José Manuel Barroso met Mr. Pasquale Valentini, Secretary of State of San Marino, and Mr. Antoni Marti Petit, Head of the Andorran Government.
These meetings took place as the Europan Commission is working on a report on the possibilities of integration of San Marino, Andorra and Monaco into the internal market. This integration could be done through on one or more Association Agreements with these three European small-sized states.
La politique de cohésion : une politique gagnant-gagnant
Le Président Barroso a participé aujourd'hui à la session plénière du Comité des Régions.
A cette occasion il a rappelé que les leaders régionaux sont des leaders européens et que la politique de cohésion est une politique pour toute l'Union européenne, une politique gagnant-gagnant qui traduit un esprit et des valeurs européennes qui sont une source d'inspiration pour des millions de personnes dans le monde, à commencer par nos plus proches voisins à l'Est et au Sud.
Il a appelé à montrer de la solidarité pour le peuple ukrainien, pour les jeunes Ukrainiens qui veulent pour l'Ukraine un destin européen.
Il a souligné qu'en Europe la reprise est en vue, la confiance est en train de revenir chez les investisseurs, les consommateurs mais elle reste fragile, et il faut la soutenir car "sans confiance il n'y aura pas d'investissements, et sans investissements il n'y aura pas de croissance, pas d'emplois."
President Barroso met Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk
European Commission President Barroso met the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. At the request of the Polish side, the situation in Ukraine was the main topic of this working meeting. They also addressed the economic situation in the EU ahead of the upcoming European Council in March.
At the joint press point of the President and Prime Minister President Barroso stressed that “violence and intimidation must stop as they are clearly not the answer to the crisis” in Ukraine. Both the president and the Prime Minister agreed on the need to continue de-escalating the current tension in Ukraine. “The European Union is determined to keep its full political involvement in the settlement of the crisis in Ukraine. We remain engaged in helping our Ukrainian partners, under the "more for more" principle, to find a democratic and peaceful way out of the current political crisis” – President said. “We expect […]a political solution of the current stalemate, respecting the rule of law, human rights and the will of the Ukrainian people” he added.
Regarding the economic situation in Europe, the President said: “We have made massive efforts to beat the crisis. Signs of recovery are multiplying but many challenges remain and we cannot say the crisis is over when unemployment is still so high.”
Italian government meets the Commission
Today, Commission President José Manuel Barroso and the College of Commissioners received the Italian government. Four months ahead of the European elections and five months before Italy takes over the EU Presidency of the Council, the meeting presented an important opportunity to discuss current challenges and priorities for the European Union and Italy.
Prime Minister Enrico Letta was accompanied by five members of government: Emma Bonino (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Fabrizio Saccomanni (Minister of Economy and Finance), Enrico Giovannini (Minister of Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities), Carlo Trigilia (Minister for Territorial Cohesion) and Enzo Moavero Milanesi (Minister for European Affairs).
At the press point following the visit President Barroso thanked Prime Minister Letta "for his commitment and enthusiasm for Europe, and more concretely for his strong support on key priorities like banking union and the EU 2030 climate and energy package".
He summarised the meeting as follows: "At the heart of our discussions were our efforts to promote growth and jobs in Europe. We all agreed that 2014 can mark a real turning point, for Europe and for Italy. Our comprehensive crisis strategy consisting of fiscal consolidation, structural reforms and targeted investment has started to show some positive results."
President Barroso also congratulated the Italian Prime Minister for having taken very important steps towards ensuring growth and jobs and encouraged the government to maintain and accelerate reforms: "Even if we are coming closer to the finish line, the marathon is by far not over".
The Commission President stressed that Italy can continue to count on Europe's support: "The Commission continues to stand by Italy in the context of our economic policy coordination, and also by making available fresh EU funds for Italy during the period 2014-2020, for example almost 30 billion euros under the Structural and Investment Funds".
President Barroso also underlined the EU's support to Italy regarding the two Italian marines in India.
He concluded by praising the spirit of "European complicity" that could be felt during the visit.
In the afternoon President Barroso and Prime Minister Letta joined the President of the European Council Van Rompuy and the EP Vice President Pittella to open a presentation of Expo 2015 Milan at the European Parliament.