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SPEECH/ 09/523

José Manuel Dur ã o Barroso

P resident of the European Commission

A ssessing the Results of the October European Council

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

European Parliament

Brussels, 11 November 2009


Prime Minister,

Honourab le Members,

Let me complement Prime Minister Reinfeldt's assessment of the European Council by commenting on two aspects: one on policy, and one on institutional issues.

As regards policy, the key deliverable was the very important agreement on action on climate change. We all know these are difficult issues. When there is so much at stake, the road will never be easy. Frankly, the European Council result exceeded my initial expectations: we got the approval of all the numbers the Commission proposed, accompanied by strong conditionality.

And the message is clear: the European Union is ready for Copenhagen, ready to follow our action to cut emissions with a powerful offer on climate finance, just as the Commission proposed in September, both in the longer term and in "fast start" funding. Because if we want developing countries to come to the table with serious commitments on mitigation then we need developed countries to put money on the table. Our assessment is that by 2020, developing countries will need around an additional 100 billion euros a year to tackle climate change, and this is fully backed by the European Council, as is the likely share of public international finance in that figure, and agreement that the EU will pay its fair share.

It is equally clear: other partners must show that they can match the seriousness of our intent. For our policy is not about the EU forging ahead in the vague hope that others will follow: it is about using our leverage to bring about the maximum possible in terms of a global effort to cut emissions.

When I was in Washington and then New Delhi last week, I was reminded just how far these two partners have come in the past year or so. The same is true of others, like China. Of course we will continue to respect the important requirement of common but differential responsibility for climate change, but as I have said many times recently, we are all in this together, and we in the EU will continue to push for real contributions from all the other players.

We need to keep focused on the end goal – ambitious, serious, verifiable cuts in emissions to ensure that we keep within our target of limiting temperature increase to less than two degrees Celsius.

So what are the prospects for Copenhagen? It seems to be now likely that Copenhagen will not see agreement to the fully-fledged Treaty that we have pushed for and will continue to push for. But that is not a reason to accept anything less than a decisive breakthrough in these negotiations. In the end, it is content that matters more than form. In my view we should try to arrive at a fully operational agreement based on real political commitments, that comes rapidly into force, and which brings all the major players on board for both emission reductions and finance. And we should continue to fight on for final agreement to a Treaty. A binding Treaty. To make that happen, we need to join all our forces in the remaining weeks to Copenhagen.

Distinguished Members of the Parliament,

We have just shown that we can, by decisive joint action, agree on a Treaty that has proven elusive for a very long time. That was the other major result of the European Council: it lifted the last political hurdle to the final ratification of the Lisbon Treaty . No we can look forward with confidence because as Prime Minister Reinfeldt has said, we will have the Lisbon Treaty in place at the start of next month. Today the European Commission launched the consultation on the Citizen's initiative as a first concrete step in the implementation of the Treaty approach.

I would like to pay tribute to Prime Minister Reinfeldt for his sure touch in bringing this ship into port.

Now we have to complete the task of transition. The focus is of course very much on the filling of the new posts.

It is not for me to comment on the candidates for the Presidency of the European Council. But as Commission President and looking at institutional matters, I very much hope that the Heads of State and Government will select a personality that can provide effective leadership to the European Council. A President with a strong European commitment that can give consistency over time to the European Council. Internally – so that priorities can be set over a longer time frame; not just for six months, and externally, so that on common foreign and security policy, we send coherent messages to our international partners. I am committed to working in tandem with this President of the European Council, because that partnership will make all the difference: we need to pull together, at the level of Heads of State and Government, the Common Foreign and Security Policy, on which the President of the European Council will represent the EU at his level, and we have to put all the Community competences from the economy to trade to enlargement, to development, from energy to justice, where the European Commission President represents the EU according to the Treaty. I am committed to making this partnership work, in the interest of a strong and effective European Union, at home and globally.

That is obviously also true for the High Representative. Here I confess to a particular interest because that High Representative will also be one of the Commission's Vice President. On a very pragmatic level, because the nomination of the Vice President-High Representative, and the other proposals by Member States for the Commission, will allow me to pass to the phase of finalising the next College and attributing portfolios. On a political level, because I am convinced that this VP/High Rep, supported by a strong External Action Service bringing together European expertise in intergovernmental diplomacy with our Community competences, can mean a real step change in the effectiveness of our external action.

And this brings me to the Commission as a whole. I want a Commission composed of competent and committed Europeans. I am working in my final discussions with Member States to ensure that this is the case. I have asked member states to come forward with names, including women. Then it will be for me to decide on the portfolios. Portfolios will be decided on the basis of personalities and profiles, not countries .

I also want to have a Commission with a strong democratic mandate. That is why I am determined to give full respect to the hearings process in this Parliament. The delays due to the Treaty have given us a common challenge – we must not delay the arrival of a new Commission, but we cannot short-cut the hearings. I look forward to discussing how to handle this issue in the Conference of Presidents next week.

Honourable Members, the Lisbon Treaty will enable us to deliver better on citizens' expectations – but whether we use the opportunities it offers will be first and foremost a matter of political will. The Treaty gives us the capacity to act but we also need the will to act. And that brings me back to the beginning of this afternoon: the Europe represented here today, a Europe united in freedom and solidarity, would not have been possible without the commitment and the dedication of ordinary people who made extraordinary things happen 20 years ago. We need to rekindle this flame, the spirit of 1989: if we show the same dedication and commitment, I am sure we will succeed.

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