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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso following the Tripartite Social Summit

Press conference

Brussels, 24 March 2011

Our meeting with the social partners was important, because we have addressed the key challenges we face in Europe today. We discussed how we can adapt our economy in a way that makes it stronger in today's competitive global environment and which also strengthens our social model which is in fact the foundation of our social market economy.

People are demonstrating for change right outside this building and also in several places in Europe. I think we should be sensitive to the message those people are sending us - there are concerns in our societies. While, I think it is fair to recognise that the situation globally is improving in the European economy - the situation is better that one year ago, the growth is now stronger - in fact the recovery remains fragile and uneven among countries and also in the society and we have to address these imbalances seriously if we don't want those disparities to become a problem for the European Union.

One point on which I think we can agree is that fiscal consolidation and structural reforms are not ends in themselves, they are indispensible. The Commission believes it is indispensible to have this effort of structural reform and fiscal consolidation if we want to achieve higher levels of growth to restore the confidence and also to have more investment.

At the same time it is important also to restate our commitment to the autonomy of the social partners and social dialogue.

I think it is critically important that both at national level and European level social dialogue is inclusive and goes deep in the priorities that we have now to achieve.

It is also important to know that we are very close to achieve what some time ago was almost considered impossible – a stronger economic governance in the euro area and the European Union.

Today, in the European Council, I hope we will agree on a comprehensive economic policy package with new systems of governance. Now we have the European semester that was launched by the Annual Growth Survey launched by the European Commission. We have now some proposals after the agreement by the Council. I hope it will be agreed also by the European Parliament in terms of a stronger economic governance and we have this Pact for the euro or Euro plus pact that also reinforces our capacity to act at European level for the euro area countries and those that wish to join.

So in fact we are making progress in terms of completing the monetary union with a real economic union and the social partners are also part of this. It is important that while recognising some differences, while agreeing at the same time with the common goals, the goal for growth and jobs, we find the common approach that is needed to face the challenges in our Union.

I think the prospects for the European economy are better today than one year ago, but some uncertainties remain, and that is why we have to reach a broader consensus and today's meeting was a very important contribution for this.

I thank you for your attention.

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