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State of the Union 2012 Address
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12/09/2012 00:00:00

The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has today delivered the State of the Union 2012 address.

During his speech, President Barroso made the following key points:

"My message to you today is this: Europe needs a new direction.  And, that direction cannot be based on old ideas.  Europe needs a new thinking.  Globalisation demands more European unity.  More unity demands more integration.  More integration demands more democracy.  European democracy.  What I demand and what I present to you today is a Decisive Deal for Europe.  A decisive deal to project our values, our freedom and our prosperity into the future of a globalised world.  The Decisive Deal for Europe means that we are determined to REFORM TOGETHER...This decisive deal requires the completion of a deep and genuine economic union, based on a political union." 

    State of the Union 2012 Address

    The Commission and this parliament, indeed all pro-European forces – because most of the Member States support our proposal - must now stand together in support of the right multi-annual financial framework that will take us to 2020.  This will be a real test of credibility for some Member States. I want to see if the same member States who are all the time talking about investment and growth will now support a budget for growth at the European level.

    Our agenda of structural reform requires a major adjustment effort. It will only work if it is fair and equitable.  Because inequality is not sustainable.

    Fairness and equity means giving a chance to our young people to fulfil their potential. We are already doing a lot. And before the end of the year, the Commission will launch a Youth Package that will establish a youth guarantee scheme and equality framework to facilitate vocational training.

    Fairness and equity means creating better and fairer taxation systems. Stopping tax fraud and tax evasion could put extra billions into the public purse across Europe.  This is why the Commission will fight for an agreement on the revised savings tax directive, and on mandates to negotiate stronger savings tax agreements with third countries.

    And the Commission will continue to fight for a fair and ambitious Financial Transactions Tax that would ensure that taxpayers benefit from the financial sector, not just that the financial sector benefits from taxpayers

    Today, the Commission is presenting legislative proposals for a single European supervisory mechanism. This is a quantum leap - the stepping stone to a banking union. The single supervisory mechanism proposed today will create a reinforced architecture, with a core role for the European Central Bank, and appropriate articulation with the European Banking Authority, which will restore confidence in the supervision of the banks in the Euro area.  

    The second element of a deeper economic union is the move towards a fiscal union. We need a stronger and more binding framework for the national decision making for key economic policies, as the only way to prevent imbalances.

    To deliver lasting results, we need to develop a fully equipped Community economic governance together with a genuine, credible Community fiscal capacity. We do not need separate institutions for that. Quite the contrary: for this to be effective and quick, the best way is to work with and through the existing institutions:

    The Commission will publish a blueprint for deepening the economic and monetary union still this autumn.  

    I would like to see the development of a European public space, where European issues are discussed and debated from a European standpoint. We cannot continue trying to solve European problems just with national solutions.

    This is best achieved through strengthening the role of the European Parliament at the European level.  This is the basis for a genuine complementarity and cooperation between the European and national parliaments.

    This also cannot be done without strengthening European political parties. Indeed, we have very often a real disconnect between political parties in the capitals and the European political parties here in Strasbourg. This is why we have to recognise the political debate is cast all too often as if it were just between national parties. Even in the European elections we do not see the name of the European political parties on the ballot box, we see a national debate between national political parties.  This is why we need a reinforced statute for European political parties. I am proud to announce that the Commission has adopted a proposal for this today.

    An important means to deepen the pan-European political debate would be the presentation by all European political parties of their candidate for the post of Commission President at the European Parliament elections already in 2014. This can be done without treaty change; This would be a decisive step to make the possibility of a European choice offered by these elections even clearer. I call on the political parties to commit to this step and thus to further Europeanise the European elections.

    A more political European Union means also we must concentrate European action on the real issues that matter and must be dealt with at the European level. Not everything can be a priority.

    A political union also means that we must strengthen the foundations on which our Union is built: the respect for our fundamental values, for the rule of law and democracy. Our commitment to upholding the rule of law is also behind our intention to establish a  European Public Prosecutor's Office as foreseen by the treaties. We will make a proposal soon.

    A political union also means doing more to fulfil our global role. Sharing sovereignty in Europe means being more sovereign in a global world. In today's world, size matters.  And values make the difference.

    The appalling situation in Syria reminds us that we cannot afford to be by-standers. A new and democratic Syria must emerge. We have a joint responsibility to help make this happen. The world needs a EU that is still at the forefront of development and humanitarian assistance. That stands by open economies and fights protectionism. That leads the fight against climate change.

    Today, I call for a federation of nation states. Not a superstate. A democratic federation of nation states that can tackle our common problems, through the sharing of sovereignty in a way that each country and each citizen are better equipped to control its own destiny. This is about the Union with the member states, not against the member states.

    This will ultimately require a new Treaty. I do not say this lightly. We are all aware how difficult treaty change has become. It has to be well prepared.

    But whilst many elements of the decisive deal that I have set out can be done under the existing treaties, there are others that cannot be done without treaty change.  Discussions on treaty change must not distract or delay us from doing what can and must already be done today. A deep and genuine economic and monetary union can be started under the current Treaties, but can only be completed with a new Treaty.

    Let me be very clear: in Europe, we need no more walls dividing us! We will start from the principle that deeper integration will not be just for some.. Because the European Union is stronger as a whole in keeping the integrity of its single market, its membership and in its institutions. No one will be forced to come along. And no one will be forced to stay out. The speed will not be dictated by the slowest or the most reluctant.

    This is why our proposals will be based on the existing Union and its institutions, on the community method. Let's be clear – there is one European Union. One Commission. One European Parliament. More democracy, more transparency, more accountability is not created by a proliferation of institutions that would render the EU more complicated, more difficult to read less coherent and less capable to act.

    We must use the 2014 election to mobilise all pro-European forces. We must not allow the populists and the nationalists to set a negative agenda. I expect all those who call themselves Europeans to stand up and to take the initiative in this debate. Because even more dangerous than the scepticism of the anti-Europeans, is the indifference or the pessimism of the pro-Europeans."

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