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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Speech by President Barroso at the EU China Business Summit
EU-China Business Summit
Brussels, 6 October 2010
President Van Rompuy,
Prime Minister Leterme,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all let me thank you for the invitation. It is a very impressive gathering of business leaders from Europe and China.
Both China and Europe are weathering the financial and economic crisis with determination. The European Union and its businesses have been put before one of their greatest “stress tests” ever. To stabilise the situation, the European Commission has led in providing bold answers on financial regulation and economic governance. I am proud of the contribution that the European Commission is giving to the consensus of all our Member states for these objectives.
The reality is that the economic outlook in the European Union is better today than one or two years ago, but uncertainties and risks remain, also at global level. To consolidate our progress to date, it is now vital for Europe to move forward from crisis management to an ambitious reform agenda. There is no possibility of being "back to business as usual".
Through our Europe 2020 Strategy, we are front-loading growth-enhancing structural reforms to guide our economies towards new sources of growth and social cohesion.
Today I would like to focus on innovation and also at the end make some comments regarding the current state of our dialogue with China on economic matters.
Innovation, I want to underline it because it is the cornerstone of our Europe 2020 Strategy and it is also very important in relationship with our Chinese partners. Innovation is the key for the sort of growth that we need and we want in Europe: smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Today the European Commission adopted the Innovation Union flagship proposal that is to deliver a real change on how and how much we innovate in Europe. From science and technology driven innovation to boost the competitiveness of our industries, to new business models, to creative design and marketing, but also social innovation, innovation on how life and work are organised.
Also because innovation is something that binds China and the European Union as two necessary and natural pillars of the global economy. We are interdependent on that. Economic cooperation has reached historic highs. We are partners in science and technology. More and more we face the same world-wide challenges such as climate change, demographic issues, increasing scarcity of resources such as energy, water and food. Such challenges require innovative answers and solutions.
This not only brings huge commercial opportunities but also great potential for mutually beneficial cooperation. However, to make this work, openness is required. The European Union's economy is very open and we welcome more Chinese investment. At the same time there is a general feeling that economic openness in China could be greatly enhanced. A recent report of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China touched on the current business climate and found ample scope for improvement.
I appreciate Premier Wen's commitment on the Chinese government remaining focused on an open and welcoming business climate. I would like to be very clear on this point. No one, certainly not the European business people are asking for a preferential treatment. I am convinced that finding the right level playing field, with clarity, with stability, with predictability, will continue to be key for the benefit of all, entrepreneurs and citizens alike.
I very much trust that we can move forward, with creativity and in a balanced way which benefits business across Europe and China. Restrictions on access to the market for raw materials rare earths, as they are known, is a case in point.
I am impressed by China's rapid progress on innovation and the implementation of its strategic plan. But it is very important that some of the measures and instruments that are being used to promote innovation in China have not a detrimental effect in innovation in other countries.
Innovation could and should indeed be a tool for the benefit of all, avoiding any situation whereby one country's innovation takes place at the expense of another. The more so as our European market is open and China is welcome to participate in EU research programmes.
I am pleased with the progress to go ahead with our Intellectual Property Rights Task Force focussing on patents and their effective enforcement. And I welcome our understanding from Premier Wen's assurances that the Indigenous Innovation Scheme will not lead to discrimination against foreign or China/EU joint venture companies, but we wish to see real progress on the ground. We are therefore looking forward to seeing these positive statements being followed by effective action.
Ladies and gentlemen, we will immediately after this meeting start our 13th Summit between China and the European Union. I hope this Summit will be another step forward in what is becoming a very important strategic partnership. I hope that we will have good discussions on some matters that are very important to all of you in the business community. We will discuss economic, trade, investment matters. We will review bilateral economic and trade relations and I think we should express satisfaction with the rapid recovery and growth of bilateral trade and investment in 2010.
I think we should intensify discussions on ways to promote bilateral trade and investment, also removing trade barriers and ensuring a business climate conducive to the further development of trade and investment relations.
I think we should also develop more constructive efforts to put in place sound fiscal policies that would guarantee the sustainability of public finances while being growth friendly inter alia to intensify structural adjustments in order to make growth more sustainable and balanced as well as to allow for flexible responses to the evolution of the economic fundamentals.
In this regard I would like to tell you that we really welcome the fact that yesterday and the day before yesterday there were here in Brussels important meetings between the Euro area and Chinese authorities. Those meetings went in a very positive way. On European side, we stated our position considering that China's structural reforms should be complemented by an orderly and broad based appreciation of the Chinese currency exchange rate. Letting the adjustment fall only on Europe could be damaging for the Euro area recovery.
I am sure that a stronger European economy is in China's interest since the European Union is China's biggest export market. It was with satisfaction that we took note of the very positive words said by Prime Minister Wen on the euro, the Euro area and its economies. There is clear evidence of the confidence China has on Euro area and its developments and once again I would like to thank Premier Wen for this and also to congratulate China for its strategic vision to afford a closer and deeper relationship with the Euro area, the European Union and all its Member states.
Thank you for your attention.