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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Opening remarks by President Barroso on the occasion of Open Days 2010 – European Week of Regions and Cities
Brussels, 4th October 2010
Ladies and gentlemen,
I really wanted to take part in the 2010 Open Days as I have done in previous years. But unfortunately I am unable to be with you today. I sincerely regret this. That is why I insisted on sending you this message.
Europe has been under pressure for the past two years because of the economic and financial crisis. However, we have managed to come up with solutions. We have been able to tackle the problems at root: by strengthening economic governance and coordinating economic policies, and through financial regulation. Together we have achieved a lot.
We are now on more solid ground. The European Union's economic outlook is better than expected. Recovery is under way. And although unemployment is still too high, it has stopped rising.
We must now speed up our efforts. We must achieve results with the Europe 2020 strategy and its flagship initiatives. Our goal is to put our social market economy back on tracks to ensure smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Europe's regions and cities will be key players in the Europe 2020 strategy. They will have a crucial role to play in creating new, sustainable jobs; investing in new technologies; combating climate change; providing good quality education; promoting social inclusion; developing infrastructure, and paving the way for smart territorial and urban development.
The priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy will also be central to two major European political events that concern you directly.
First, the review of the EU budget: the European Commission will very shortly present its initial thoughts on this. Second, the debate on post-2013 cohesion policy, which will take place in the coming months.
These two key issues will be a test for us. We must ensure that expenditure is more efficient, European added-value is increased, and implementation is simplified. Of course, we cannot ignore budget pressure. But I wish to make one thing clear: the basic principles of cohesion policy will not change. This policy is an expression of European solidarity, which is at the heart of our integration process. Cohesion policy will remain a strategic policy for the EU. Together we must look for synergies in order to make a success of the Europe 2020 strategy.
I am delighted that you will have the opportunity to discuss all these issues, together with your experiences and your plans, in the course of these four days. I look forward to hearing about the outcome of your discussions. I wish you fruitful, excellent Open Days!