José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following the adoption of the 2011 Country specific recommendations
Strasbourg, 7 June 2011
Good afternoon ladies end gentlemen,
Today, we have taken another decisive step towards getting Europe's economy back on track and putting the crisis behind us.
The Commission has adopted country-specific-recommendations for each of our Member States in response to the programmes they have submitted, in which they set out how they plan to increase their capacity to create growth and employment while putting their public finances back on a sound footing.
What we are doing today is part of our response to a crisis that was global in nature but whose harsh effects have been, above all, local – since they have been felt in every community, every family and every business in the European Union.
It is a response that was born of a recognition that our economies are now interdependent to a degree never before seen; and that this demands that we cooperate more closely and more effectively than we have in the past.
And it is a response that has been agreed at the highest level by all of our Member States so we are now implementing the new system of European governance.
The recommendations we have adopted today are the result of the Commission's assessment of the plans presented by the 27 governments of the European Union.
Our recommendations are objective: they are tailored to specific circumstances and they are measurable. They are objective, because they are based on an extensive analysis of each country's situation, which we are also publishing today. We are publishing and we will have those documents too – staff reports and analysis, technical analysis of the situation of each of our Member States.
They are tailored, because they are addressing the most pressing issues facing each of our Member States, because as you know some of those difficulties are specific. Specific challenges require specific responses.
And they are measurable, because they are focussed on specific reforms, which we believe can and should be implemented within a timeframe of 12-18 months. So it is not just a general document about policy orientations and priorities. It is targeted recommendations for specific actions for the next one year and a half.
Clearly, I am sure you will be most interested in the content of the recommendations, not least for the Member State that each one of you is supposed to know best. I will leave it to you to read the country-specific recommendations. But let me make a few general remarks about our assessment.
We are pleased to see that the programmes Member States have submitted broadly reflect the priorities that have been agreed at EU level.
Also, the macroeconomic assumptions they contain are for the most part in line with our own forecasts.
However, some of the programmes show an insufficient level of ambition and others are lacking in specificity.
On the basis of the national commitments made, we can say now at European level that the EU is on track to achieve its targets for emissions reductions, for renewable energy and for reducing early school-leaving.
But, and it is an important "but", additional efforts will be needed to reach the targets in the areas of employment, research and development, energy efficiency, tertiary education and poverty reduction.
Many Member States need to show more ambition when it comes to fiscal consolidation, while – and let me emphasise this point – maintaining investment in growth-enhancing areas like research and development, innovation and education. At the same time we try to protect the most vulnerable of our citizens.
More also needs to be done to improve the business environment and to increase competition, particularly in the service sector.
And to be more specific regarding jobs, more needs to be done across the board to increase participation in the labour force, particularly for women and older workers, to combat long-term unemployment and to reduce joblessness among our young people.
With the adoption of these country-specific recommendations, we enter the closing phase of this first European Semester.
The Commission has played its part in this process, in a partnership with the Member States that I believe has been effective.
The ball is now in the court of our Member States. In two weeks, the European Council will be asked to endorse these recommendations. In doing so, member states will be committing themselves at the highest level to deliver on the measures that all have agreed are needed. The Member States at the highest level will make these commitments before their peers, but also before their public opinion. I believe these measures are needed for our collective good as well as for the good of individual economies.
I know very well that achieving the goals we have set ourselves will mean making hard choices. But if we make this effort, collectively and in a serious manner, we will all be able to leave the crisis behind us and know that we have done what it takes to safeguard our prosperity and our European social model.
So let me conclude that I am very confident that this exercise will indeed bring an important change in the way we, in the European Union make economic policy.