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SPEECH/ 10/62

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement following meeting with the President of Italy Giorgio Napolitano

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Joint press point

Brussels, 3 March 2010

Let me start in Italian:

Il presidente dalla Repubblica, Giorgio Napolitano, è una figura di grande rilievo della vita politica italiana ed europea.

Durante la sua vita politica, Giorgio Napolitano ha sempre dimostrato un costante impegno a favore della democrazia e del dialogo, dell'Europa unita e del suo ruolo centrale nella vita politica italiana.

Tutti i miei colleghi della Commissione e io personalmente vediamo nel Presidente Napolitano un interlocutore prezioso e un esempio per tutti noi con la sua dedizione alla causa europea, ai valori comuni, al dialogo e alla democrazia.

Let me tell you that we were extremely impressed by the inspirational and very strong European statement made by President Napolitano today in the College meeting. Spontaneously we all applauded at his statement made in front of all the College of Commissioners. We are extremely proud that in this new College, the first visitor we had is a personality like Giorgio Napolitano.

Very frankly, today we do not listen very often to speeches that the one he has made, this strong European commitment. I hope other European leaders can listen to this kind of statement. We need this kind of passion for Europe; we need this kind of commitment to Europe if we want to deliver on our goals and values to our citizens.

Today, we had a bilateral meeting, after which the President Napolitano attended our College meeting and a working lunch. The main themes we discussed were the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, migration, asylum as well as external relations and our Europe 2020 strategy. I gave one of the first copies of our Europe 2020 Strategy to President Napolitano.

Let me thank Italy for its contribution to Europe 2020 on which the Commission presented its vision today.

In the process of preparation we have benefited from input coming from Italy and from discussions we had at several levels with Italy. We are aiming precisely at putting Europe on the path towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Italy and the Commission agree on the essential role of industry and manufacturing, the role of small- and medium-sized enterprises and the single market in this strategy. As you know the Commission wants that industry and manufacturing remain central with an industrial policy organised around sector-specific plans to exit the crisis. We want that industry and manufacturing ensure a strong and competitive industrial base, through innovation, research and skilled people; that industry and manufacturing manage the shift to a low-carbon economy by making full use of the job potential that this represents meeting our renewable energy target by 2020 could create around 3 million new jobs).

Furthermore we need to create the best framework conditions for small and medium-sized enterprises to operate. They deserve that we continue to roll out the red carpet and reduce red tape for them.

And all business operators and consumers deserve a fully-fledged Single Market which delivers real benefits for business and citizens. The European Commission will give a major push to improve the function of the single market, taking account of the forthcoming Review that I asked to be made by Mario Monti.

Let me conclude with a serious reminder:

The financial and economic crisis has hit the world and Europe. It exposed our vulnerability. No single country escaped unaffected. No Member State can tackle the challenges in front of us alone.

I am confident that Italy - as a founding member of the Union – and its people recognise the urgency of change and will continue to play a key role in bringing our European economy on a new course of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

I said to President Napolitano on my own behalf and on behalf of the European Commission how grateful we are for the support of Italy to the European integration. Italy has been a key player in this process, I would not say from the beginning, before the beginning, before the Treaty of Rome, already in Messina. We have always benefiting from the strong impulse and the strong leadership of Italy for this process of European integration. We need more than ever that support because you see here and there some populist and fragmentation tendencies. We need the strong support of Italy. In statemen like Giorgio Napolitano we find this vision and this commitment, this inspirational leadership that can make us go further in the process of European integration, in the process of respecting the basic values that make Europe such a dream. The dream that we want to come true.

Thank you, President Napolitano, for coming to the Commission today.

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