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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy

Press point

Rome, 14 March 2011

Good afternoon,

I am very pleased to be here again in Rome. I wish to thank Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for his kind words. I also have the honour to meet thePresident of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano and the Governor of the Banca d'Italia, Mario Draghi.

When European leaders met last Friday in Brussels, a two-fold message emanated from our meeting: Europe wants to support the historic developments in the Southern Mediterranean. And Europe is ready to show solidarity and share the burden with those who are particularly exposed.

I am very glad about this commitment because I personally, and the entire Commission, have called for increased solidarity and burden-sharing since a long-time.

Italy is placed at the forefront of what is happening at the Southern shores of the Mediterranean. And there are legitimate concerns that these developments can exceed the capacities of a single country.

As a founding member of the European Union, Italy can count on the political and also the financial solidarity of our Union.

Heads of State and Government have welcomed our initiative for a Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean. Europe is on the side of those who struggle for more freedom and a better future. Europe wants to help making these truly historic transformations a success.

The Mediterranean must unite us not divide us.

Europe is living up to these truly historic challenges, not only in the Mediterranean, but also to tackle the debt crisis. A comprehensive crisis response is on the table. We are putting the final touches on it and plan to agree it by the end of March. We are changing the way we coordinate economic policies. We are reaching new levels of integration. We complement monetary union with economic union. We are united in our efforts to drive back deficits and debt, implement reforms that are long overdue and increase growth, jobs and competitiveness for the sake of our citizens.

The euro area Member States also agreed on a Pact for the euro based on our proposal prepared after consultations made by the President of the European Council and myself with Member States. This Pact is now fully compatible with the Treaty and further reinforces for the euro area what we are doing in terms of economic governance.

In the European Union and in the euro area in particular there cannot be solidarity without responsibility nor responsibility without solidarity.

This is the principle, which is at the core of the determined and coordinated action that we have taken to safeguard the financial stability in the euro area.

It is on a shared commitment to responsibility and solidarity that rest the existence of the temporary European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and of the permanent Mechanism, which will take over as from 2013.

This commitment has been reaffirmed last Friday at the informal Summit of the euro area Member States.

Over the last months, the Commission had continually stressed the need to enhance the effective financing capacity of the current Fund and broaden its scope. A few weeks ago this still seemed impossible, now we have a decision in principle.

European leaders have agreed they will make sure the full amount is available, that is 440 billion euros for the current Fund and 500 billion euros for its successor, the future permanent Mechanism. This is a major step forward, not only for the euro area but for Europe as a whole.

I am very happy that Italy truly is at the heart of these efforts and has been defending strongly the need for an ambitious and credible Community response, based on solidarity and responsibility. I am confident that together we are able to deliver.

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