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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands

Press point

Brussels, 25 January 2011

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to welcome Prime Minister Rutte to the Commission.

We have had a very fruitful meeting about the European Union's current agenda. We agree on how to tackle the present sovereign debt crisis. We need to tackle the root causes of the situation we are in.

This means fiscal consolidation, so we can ensure macro-economic stability; this means pursuing structural reforms, so we can lay the basis for growth that creates jobs and is inclusive; this also means pushing ahead with growth-enhancing measures like completing and deepening the internal market, so we can build a competitive economy that is fit for the future. We have agreed that we're not here to "manage decline", but we are here to foster the growth and revival of the European Union's economy.

We as the Commission push this agenda, and so does the Prime Minister’s Government – an agenda of fiscal consolidation, structural reforms, and growth enhancing measures; an agenda for the completion and the deepening of our internal market; an agenda that makes Europe stronger in the world. Not everybody in Europe may share this line, but The Hague and Brussels certainly do.

Prime Minister Rutte and I agreed in particular on the need to reform the economic governance in Europe. For more stability, we need more fiscal discipline. That means closer surveillance and, if needed, sanctions against those who don't play by the rules. I am glad that the Netherlands is among the strongest supporters of the Commission’s proposals on the table.

This also means that new and tighter fiscal rules should be adopted rapidly. I hope that by June, as indicated by the European Council, we will have the new proposals adopted. As you know we have put forward some proposals and we are now discussing them with the Council and with the Parliament. In fact, our monetary union needs to be complemented with an economic union.

The “European Semester”, which we kicked off with our Annual Growth Survey two weeks ago, is I believe a major step forward. It acknowledges the interdependence of our economies and brings a strong EU-dimension in the national responses.

Instead of making corrections afterwards, we will now be giving guidance in advance. It will be a peer review of all of the Member States. It will provide a strong push for reforms in Europe. And it is also a way of ensuring solidity and transparency from the outset.

Clearly, we need to have a discussion on the comprehensive approach to the current crisis, and we are discussing this with Member States. It is not just about one piece, one proposal, but all those proposals have to be put forward in a coherent manner so that we send a clear and sound message to the markets about our determination to do whatever we can and should to protect the euro and to protect the financial stability in the euro zone. This is a matter of credibility.

We also have discussed other matters, such as the multi-annual financial framework. As you know the Commission will make its proposal by June, based on the Treaty objectives.

I think we can agree that we should target areas where the European Union makes a difference; where there is added value and where there are very important invests for the future.

So I think it was a very fruitful meeting, always friendly, very open and informal. I look forward to working with Prime Minister Rutte for the European project. The Netherlands is a founding member of our Union. The Netherlands has given a very important contribution to our common project. It was like this in the past and I am sure it will be like this also in the future.

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