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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso at the press conference following the first day of the March European Council

Press conference following the first day of the March European Council

Brussels, 24 March 2011

The President of the European Council presented a comprehensive resume of the very important conclusions. Let me just highlight one or two points.

First, in terms of economic governance. I think today was a real breakthrough. I think in the past 12 months we have made great strives towards stronger economic governance. We have taken bold steps to take our economies back on a more sustainable footing; we have transformed the regulation and supervision of our financial system. We have launched, based on the Annual Growth Survey, the European semester, so ex-ante coordination of both budgetary policy and general economic policy. We have also been working in terms of the Europe 2020. Today we have finalised at 27 the “Euro plus pact” and there was also an agreement on the European Stability Mechanism. A permanent mechanism for financial stability – something that you know was not in the Treaty of Lisbon, but that will be possible through a limited revision of the Treaty.

So, we are in fact now doing what was a very important aim for all those who wanted a stronger Union to complete the monetary union with an economic union. The economic and monetary union will finally walk on its two legs instead of limping along. There is still some work needed. But in fact the basic framework was adopted today by the 27 Member States and I think this is something we should be proud of, because, frankly, one year ago or even less than that, most people would have not bet on that. But it was possible. And I think the fact that it was possible is due to the awareness that exists today about the interdependence of our economies, but also because of the strong determination and the hard work done through all theses months.

So, at least from that point of view this is a very important achievement. And I would like to link this also to the commitments that we all, as a European Union, have taken to the outside world, namely in the G20 process. We are now delivering on the four main commitments made at the G20 in Toronto. We have promised fiscal consolidation, financial instruments, financial repair and governance. And Europe may say that Europe has delivered its part of the bargain on global governance.

Just a point on Libya. President Van Rompuy has already presented the most important ones. Let me just highlight one aspect - the issue of humanitarian aid. The EU has provided two thirds of the funding raised so far under the UN appeal and we have also organised numerous transport operations. Now we need to continue to deliver aid at the borders with Tunisia and Egypt and we also need to secure aid relief inside Libya itself.

But we must not lose sight of the overall perspective for the region. We are working hard on implementing the proposed new partnership for democracy and shared prosperity in the region. We are screening and refocusing the current instruments we have in order to support political and economic reforms. In fact I am especially pleased that today the European Council agreed on the increase of the EIB ceiling for operations by 1 billion euros for this region, and there is also support to the possible extension of the EBRD mandate for the region. So from that point of view it was also an important step forward.

So these were, I think, the points I wanted to highlight at the end of a very dense first day of the European Council.

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