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José Manuel Barroso

President of the European Commission

opening remarks

pre-European Council press conference
Brussles, 17 October 2007

This week we have a good chance to show that an enlarged Union of 27 can keep moving forward.

The informal Summit will address two crucial issues: the Reform Treaty and Europe's response to globalisation.

We need a decisive response on both.

1) Reaching agreement on the Reform Treaty.

Turning first to the treaty.

My message is clear. We need to put this institutional debate behind us. We cannot spend all our time discussing institutions. We have spent six years discussing the institutional architecture. It is time to move on.

We have a good agreement on the table. I believe it is the best deal that is on offer.

We need the Reform Treaty to give our citizens a Europe that is equipped with strong and effective institutions that enhance our capacity to act. Not a treaty for the sake of a treaty, but an instrument to deliver policies for the 21st century.

I therefore appeal to all heads of state and government to honour the commitment that they made in June. There are no reasons, no excuses not to solve this issue this week.

I understand that there are still points to settle. But this will not be the Battle of Lisbon. Everyone has the potential to leave Lisbon as a winner this week.

From the extensive contacts that I have taken, both in meetings and on the telephone, I believe there is no one that wants a failure.

2) Europe's response to globalisation

A new Treaty should finalise the debate on changing institutions. It will allow us to concentrate on changing Europe and changing the world for the better.

The question we face is how we can move on from the Reform Treaty to the Reform of Europe.

The Union's overriding purpose in 2007 is clear – to shape and respond to globalisation, in the European interest, in the interest of our citizens. This is the agenda of my Commission. That is the theme of the paper we have submitted for discussion by EU leaders in Lisbon this week called "the European interest: succeeding in the age of globalisation".

In his invitation letter to the informal European Council, Prime Minister Sócrates has asked me to make a presentation on our vision paper with a particular focus on two issues: the recent financial market developments and climate change. I am happy that the Commission can make an active contribution to this debate.

Globalisation touches every citizen. So our response to it must be about enhancing daily lives. This is what Europe is for.

The Lisbon Strategy is our vehicle for responding to globalisation in the European interest. And the Lisbon Strategy is working.

But we can still do more. For example: boosting innovation; delivering on energy targets. We need to reform our internal market. We also need to move towards flexicurity in labour markets. I hope today to be able to welcome an agreement between the social partners on flexicurity. This seeks to give workers meaningful protection and new opportunities.

We in the Commission believe that the European interest is about being open.

The road towards protectionism may seem to some like an escape route from a complex world. But we must not give in to temptation. Because protectionism does not protect. It means impoverishment and instability.

Openness does not make us a soft touch. We must encourage others to open up. And to work with us to build a rules-based system at global level. We believe that multilateralism is the only effective way to tackle global challenges like climate change, trade, development and migration.

Meanwhile, we will not give a "free ride" to those who do not respect the same standards as we do. We are not vain and not naive. We will strive for global standards. Our experience within the EU is a good springboard for that. This is a way to shape globalisation.

That was the spirit behind our recent proposals to ensure that rules on energy investment would apply to third country companies.

There are other areas on which we must reflect and adapt our policies in line with these principles. Sovereign wealth funds, for example, need a common European approach.

I want to finish by emphasising that globalisation and climate change are not separate issues. Fighting climate change is an integral part of our endeavours to shape globalisation.

When we agreed to impose binding, autonomous targets in March, we made the world think about it. We need to maintain that leadership.

We need the EU to speak with the single strong voice to deliver global leadership. We need more efficient and democratic decision-making to deliver policy results that benefit our citizens. That is why we need agreement this Friday or if possible this Thursday on the Reform Treaty. This is our responsibility to Europe's citizens.

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