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José Manuel Dur ã o Barroso
P resident of the European Commission
Statement of President Barroso at European Council press conference
Brussels, 19 June 2009
I would like to pay tribute to the Czech Presidency's real achievements. Special tribute to Prime Minister Fischer. It was indeed a very charging task to receive the Presidency of the Council in the middle of the Czech Presidency and to achieve so important results. I want to thank all the members of the Czech Presidency – the Prime-minister, the Minister of Foreign affairs, the Minister of European affairs, ambassadors, all the experts. They have shown in fact the extraordinary intelligence of the Czech people, how to manage such a transition and at the same time being able to provide concrete achievements during very difficult six months.
In fact, as the Prime Minister says: "100% results". All results were achieved.
I am especially pleased that we have agreed the Irish guarantees. This gives all the reassurances the Irish people need. This gives me confidence that we will have a "Yes" vote in the Irish referendum. It would be perfect to close the 2004-2009 mandate, which has consolidated the EU at 27 after the largest ever enlargement, with that result.
I am now very confident because in fact the Irish government has got everything it was asking from the colleagues, to have the best conditions to ask the Irish people again to express their will regarding the treaty.
We have not only discussed institutional matters. In fact we were able to achieve important results in terms of policy, policy delivery, results that are important for citizens.
I am extremely pleased with the policy achievements of today's European Council, namely on financial supervision.
We are reforming finance because ethical and efficient financial markets create sustainable jobs.
We need a European system of supervision to make financial reform work on the ground, in the interests of all Member States and today there was in fact a major achievement. Based on the proposals put forward by the Commission, there was a consensus about the need for a real European approach for financial supervision. Honestly, some months ago most people would have thought it impossible to reach this level of consensus.
Let me explain that we are not taking away national supervisors' role, we are enhancing it so they have a bigger say at European level. We are putting supervision in a European framework.
The new system will not force a government in one Member State to take fiscal decisions against its will. But it will help prevent cross-border institutions failing and dragging others down with them. This could save taxpayers across Europe a great deal of money.
We are also urging Member States to take steps to keep people in employment, maintain viable jobs and help unemployed people into work. To support young people we are calling for at least 5 million apprenticeships in 2009-2010.
EU level action to boost employment will include €19 billion from the European Social Fund and a new EU microfinance facility for small businesses.
Another important point in the Council today was the illegal immigration.
I am pleased at the progress we have made on the Commission proposals on combating illegal immigration, especially in the Mediterranean region.
We need a determined European response based on fairness, solidarity and shared responsibility.
I am very grateful for the support for the three areas where the Commission has identified the need for action: a European asylum support office; strengthening border controls and the fight against human trafficking. In fact during this European Council solidarity was expressed to the countries of the Mediterranean that are the most exposed to this challenge: Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Italy.
I have also briefed the European Council on the developing difficulties for Ukraine in paying for Russian gas. It is in fact a major crisis. We have sent a fact-finding mission to Kiev and Moscow. I have spoken to Prime Minister Putin, Prime Minister Tymoschenko, to IMF General director Strauss-Kahn and to gas industry representatives.
We must not sleepwalk into another gas crisis. There is indeed the risk of another major crisis in weeks not months and we must protect European citizens.
In the short term, the Commission intends to host a meeting next week with representatives of the International Financial Institutions, European gas companies, and Member States to look at whether a short term package of "stopgap funding" can be put together. In the medium term, we have to continue to make our efforts for a sustainable solution which delivers gas reliably via this route. We have also advised vulnerable Member States to take immediate measures to respond to possible crisis.
We are working for the better, but we should also be ready for the worst.
To conclude, let me also make a point. You know that today is the birthday of this extraordinary woman, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi.
But this will also be her 2,209th day of detention following her arrest in 2003. Her message and vision can never be silenced. All of us in Europe wish to see her restored to freedom, as well as the release of all Myanmar's political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
Quería también en español hablar sobre el atentado terrorista en Arrigarriaga esta mañana. Al conocer esta mañana la terrible noticia, en el transcurso de nuestra reunión, he expresado al Presidente del gobierno de España la solidaridad total de la Comisión Europea con los ciudadanos y las instituciones democráticas españolas en la lucha contra el terrorismo. En nombre de la Comisión Europea y en el mío propio deseo expresar nuestra más firme condena del atentado que ha causado la muerte del inspector de la Policía Nacional española, Eduardo Antonio Puelles García, en el municipio vizcaíno de Arrigorriaga. Deseo asimismo expresar mi más sentido pésame a su familia, allegados, y al conjunto de las fuerzas d e seguridad del Estado Español.