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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Shared priorities, shared goals: putting Europe back on track, together
Business Europe CEO Event
Brussels, 14 October 2010
Ladies and gentlemen,
It's a pleasure to welcome you all here to the Berlaymont.
We are living in a world of great uncertainty, and the last two years have forced us to recognise just how much the world has changed. So like you, we are working hard to try and minimise the negative impact of uncertainty, lost jobs and wasted potential.
It should therefore come as no surprise that the European Commission's top priorities right now - economic governance, the Single Market, innovation, industrial policy, jobs – mirror BusinessEurope's priorities.
Let me just highlight some of the latest developments in crisis management, governance and long-term structural reforms.
A key plank in our response to the crisis is the economic governance package we announced recently.
We are building on firm foundations. Existing instruments and methods of co-ordination enabled the EU to weather a storm that no Member State could have managed on its own. But the sovereign debt crisis earlier this year clearly exposed gaps and weaknesses in macroeconomic surveillance that cannot continue. It is time to complete monetary union with economic union.
Our proposals do this by widening and deepening the governance system.
For the first time, we address decisively the preventive arm of the Stability and Growth Pact; for the first time we propose that sanctions must be implemented much earlier in the process; for the first time we propose a structured system to deal with macroeconomic imbalances.
From now on, we will consider excessive deficits and excessive debt on an equal basis. Debt is just as damaging, and needs to be addressed more seriously than in the past. Your companies would be in trouble if saddled with crippling long-term debt. Europe's economies are no different.
The economic outlook is better today, but risks and uncertainties remain – not least at the international level. To consolidate our progress, we must now move forward from crisis management to a broader reform agenda for Europe.
A strong industrial base and an expanding services sector have proven powerful engines of Europe's post-war wealth. Although battered by the crisis, European industry – in particular manufacturing –is rebounding strongly.
However, the public debt crisis is sparking concern in the short-term that industry is delaying critical investment and innovation. The bigger, long-term concern is that Europe's entire industrial base will be hollowed out in the face of globalisation.
Successful global companies need a strong home market and a strong economy in Europe.
Our Europe 2020 strategy is the blueprint for the necessary structural reforms, guiding our economy towards new sources of growth.
And as there is no time to lose, we are frontloading the most growth-enhancing structural reforms.
Europe 2020 offers a strong, co-ordinated, European framework of future-oriented measures. A framework that reduces the risk of unilateral measures that could erode the advantages of the Single Market; that helps industries to further adjust and restructure; that encourages industries to embrace new sources of growth, based on innovation and sustainability; that makes Europe's industry, including a robust manufacturing sector, more agile, more flexible and more resilient.
Flagship initiatives are currently bringing Europe 2020 to life.
The Digital Agenda, the first we have launched, accelerates the roll-out of high speed internet to match the faster connections of our competitors.
The Innovation Union flagship – tabled just last week [6/10] – will deliver a real change on how and how much we innovate in Europe. From science and technology-driven innovation to boost the competitiveness of your industries, to new business models, to creative design and marketing.
Innovation is the key for the sort of growth that we need and want in Europe: smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
This is the first time the European Commission has presented a comprehensive innovation strategy from research to retail.
The Innovation Union is about strengthening our knowledge base in Europe and reducing fragmentation. It tackles hurdles and adverse framework conditions that hamper ideas from getting to market.
It seeks to tackle effectively the challenges we face today, such as climate change, producing and using increasingly scarce resources more wisely, and more efficiently, and also to tackle demographic change.
Get it right, and the benefits could be significant. New, innovative solutions will not only greatly benefit our societies. They will also create tomorrow's business opportunities, revenue and employment.
The launch of other 2020 flagships relevant to you and to EU businesses is imminent.
An Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era will bring a fresh take on securing a strong industrial base, anchored in the reality of industries of today.
Extensive industrial upgrading and restructuring will be required over the coming years to adjust to globalisation and to a lower carbon economy. Some sectors may need to reinvent themselves, whilst for others these challenges present new business opportunities.
The Commission will draw up a framework to support entrepreneurship, to promote the competitiveness of Europe’s primary, manufacturing and service industries, and to help them seize the opportunities of globalisation and of the green economy.
Other flagships will tackle resource efficiency, including in energy and transport, Europe’s education systems and skills, as well as the further modernisation of labour markets.
Like you, I have a clear strategic view of the way forward, and a strong focus on results. I've touched on some key areas of interest to you where the Commission is leading decisive action.
More still has to be done on a new trade strategy. I'm sure Commissioner De Gucht will elaborate over dinner later on, and we must tackle key bottlenecks in the Union's Single Market.
We are going to table ambitious proposals for a Single Market Act, building on the recommendations that I asked Mario Monti to produce.
But I hope you will agree that Europe 2020 will only succeed if all actors – including business – work together, using Europe 2020 as a common compass. We need your support.
I now look forward to hearing your views.