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SPEECH/11/168

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso following the extraordinary meeting of the European Council on the Southern Mediterranean

Joint press conference with Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council

Brussels, 11 March 2011

Thank you. Let me also start by expressing my deep condolences to the people and the government in Japan in this difficult time. We are deeply concerned at the news of the devastating earthquake which has struck the coast of Japan and has caused serious damage through much of the country.

Regarding today's meeting, we have presented, together with the High Representative, a Communication on a Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean. But of course there was this more urgent issue of Libya.

And on Libya, let me be clear. We have a regime turning against its own people when they are standing up for freedom.

This is no time for ambiguity.

The problem has a name: Ghadafi. He must go and this was the unanimous decision of the European Council supporting this approach.

Time is running out. So we have to intensify our international pressure on the current regime to step down.

There are three areas where the Commission is acting.

We are finalising the repatriation of EU nationals who still want to leave Libya - the Commission's civil protection mechanism (MIC) is coordinating Member States' efforts;

Secondly, we will step-up our cooperation with international humanitarian organisations to alleviate the situation inside Libya and at its borders. - We have already freed up 37 Million Euro and deployed teams on the ground. -

Thirdly, FRONTEX is developing contingency planning to handle a possible large influx of migrants. We are ready to mobilise additional funds, including for air and maritime assets. I have made the point that we need a true spirit of solidarity and burden sharing on this issue. I am happy to see that the European Council endorsed this approach of solidarity among Member states because some of them will probably be more affected.

We are addressing these short-term challenges. But transformation will not happen overnight and Europe intends to be a partner for the long-term. This is precisely the sense of the Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity which the Commission and High Representative have put on the table and that the European Council has broadly welcomed.

We are ready to support democratic transformation and institution building. We are ready for stronger engagement with civil society. And we are ready for sustainable and inclusive growth and economic development in our Southern neighbourhood. These are the three pillars that we have proposed and I can say that they were broadly endorsed today by the European Council.

The call for change, we have to be clear about this, is coming from within, from those Arab countries themselves. It is not imposed from outside. Those who seek their own path to democracy should be able to count on greater support from the international community and the European Union saying "We are present, we want to work with you. We support you in your fight for democracy."

So we will deploy stronger conditionality: "More-for-more".

Europe is on the side of those who struggle for more freedom and a better future.

I thank you for your attention.


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