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SPEECH/10/355

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement following the meeting with Mari Kiviniemi, Prime Minister of Finland

Joint press point

Brussels, 2 July 2010

Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

It is indeed a pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Kiviniemi to the European Commission. Coming here so quickly after taking office is a strong positive signal of your commitment to Europe I really want to thank you for coming so shortly after your nomination as a Prime Minister. I very much look forward to working closely with you.

Finland has been at the forefront of European integration in many areas. I have no doubt that this will continue to be the case under Prime Minister Kiviniemi leadership.

Today, we have discussed the key issues ahead of us at European level. Our main focus was the global economic situation and also how we can regain confidence and growth.

We discussed, of course; the proposals that the Commission adopted this Wednesday to reinforce the EU's economic governance.

We agree that stricter and smarter rules – on the basis of the current Treaty and the well-established Community method- are critical for the functioning of the Eurozone and for our Monetary Union. And we need them quickly. We have no time to lose. I would like to have those new rules in place by the start of next year.

The Commission has now put the main ideas on the table. We need stronger and broader surveillance regime that covers budgetary, macro-economic and structural policies.

This simultaneous exercise in spring (the so-called "European semester") will enhance economic transparency and encourage peer reviews among Member States. Having a European perspective will be an asset for Member States when they plan their national budgets.

We will enforce this with a refined incentives and sanctions toolbox, it is very important to have this system of incentives and sanctions, because that is what gives credibility to our system - a more effective "mix" of carrots and sticks. We need a Stability and Growth Pact that has real teeth and is properly respected. Of course the most effective sanctions are those that are never used, because they work as an incentive to respect the rules. This is what we want to achieve. I would like to thank Finland, because Finland has been, during all these debates, a strong supporter of this perspective of stronger Stability and Growth Pact

Each Member State is different but everyone must make an effort. The days of everyone for themselves are over. I therefore want to pay tribute to the Prime Minister's clear commitment to lower the Finnish budget deficit in 2011 below the 3 percent threshold.

To get our economy back on track, we do not only need stricter fiscal rules, we also need to push the structural reforms that are indispensable for growth and jobs.

That is what our Europe 2020 Strategy is all about. The European Council endorsed it a fortnight ago and we are now implementing it, including through a number of flagship initiatives, namely the one already launched – "The Digital Agenda", but also others we are going to launch very soon. Finland has long been a pioneer in investing in smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. I would like to commend the new government programme, which is very much in line with the objectives of Europe 2020.

This is a very good example of ownership of the strategy at national level, which is vital for its success. We have always said it. The Europe 2020 strategy cannot only be seen as a strategy from Brussels. This has to be done at all levels. This is a strategy for Europe, for our economic progress.

Finland is particularly well advanced in the definition of its national targets under the Strategy, for instance a very laudable 75% employment rate or 4% of GDP to be invested in R&D.

Europe stands at an important juncture. We must all show the leadership and political will to give our Union the tools it needs.

We made a good start today. I see a great deal of convergence between our positions. And it is very hard to find a matter that we do not agree and I am looking forward to working together so that we can put together our European Project and our European commitment.


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