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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso at the European Council Press conference
European Council press conference
Brussels, 16 September 2010
Thank you very much.
This Council discussed how we can reinforce our internal and external capacity to act. And what I take away from our discussion is that to our knowledge the economic situation is today better than what we expected it to be one year ago, but there is no room for complacency. We should keep our efforts and that means not only to go on with fiscal consolidation and structural reforms, but that means also delivering on economic governance, on reform of financial markets, and also in the way we handle these issues globally from the G20 to the relations with our main strategic partners.
So economic governance was a very important point and as President Van Rompuy has just said, we have heard his report on the work of the Task Force. The Task Force has indeed done excellent work; the Commission is very proud of the contribution that has been given to that Task Force. We have been an active participant; we have contributed not only with two Communications, but also with very concrete reports. Now we believe is the time to turn this into action. Our legislative proposals will be put forward on the 29 September. I think I can say that there was a broad consensus, there was an agreement that we should keep the momentum in terms of the reforms of our system, of economic governance and that is exactly what I saw around the table and that was indeed very good news.
We have also discussed, in fact it was the main topic today, the strategic partnerships and some issues of foreign relations. After six years of experience as President of the Commission in global negotiations and in Summits with our most important partners, I have to say that we can do more together. We have to use the Lisbon Treaty multiplier and I have presented some of our ideas, namely, the need to identify the European interest that is not in contradiction with national interests, but that reinforces precisely the sum of those interests; the need to implement the Lisbon Treaty in a culture of cooperation between the Member States and the European institutions, so that those that represent the European Union, namely President van Rompuy and myself at Summit level, and Cathy Ashton as High Representative, are with the backing of the European Union as a whole. And also the need not only to define strategic goals, but to be tactic, I mean to be able to discuss these issues with our partners, sometimes making trade-offs, make give and takes, that we are able to defend in an intelligent, in a smart way, the common European interest.
I think it was a very good discussion, one of the best I have ever had in a European Council regarding this strategic definition of our interest and the way to pursue it and I think this will now inspire the work we will be doing. By the way, very soon with some of our most important partners in the Summit that President Van Rompuy and myself will be participating. I made clear that the Commission will fully commit to this in all the areas in which we, Commission, represent the European Union externally.
A point I have addressed specially was trade. First of all of course we were extremely happy that the agreement that we have proposed with South Korea, a new generation of trade agreement with South Korea, was now unanimously approved by the Member States. This is indeed good news for our economy. It is the first kind of agreement that we have with Korea in this matter. We will also present a communication on developing our trade strategy later this autumn.
Another point that was discussed today was Pakistan. We moved swiftly on humanitarian aid. The European Union together is making a very important humanitarian effort. I consider the Member states, but also the European Commission. Now we are stepping up assistance and the Commission will explore all further options to help Pakistan in this dire situation. There was a clear mandate now from the Council to do that and this is indeed very good news for the relationship with Pakistan and the population of Pakistan.
The changing global balance means that we simply cannot afford to waste the potential influence that we have at our disposal. The choice is not "strong influence for Member States and little influence for the EU institutions" or "little influence for the Member States and lots for the EU". The choice is whether we are strong together or weak separately. As one of the Members of the Council highlighted, even the biggest Member state of the European Union is not so big as our most important strategic partners, but together the European Union is the number one economy in the world. Together we can make a real difference not only as a global player, but I would say the global player of reference in this age of globalisation. These were from my point of view the most important points of today's very fruitful European Council.