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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Speech by President Barroso at the European Parliament debate on the start of the Polish Presidency
EP Plenary debate
Strasbourg, 6 July 2011
Mr Prime Minister,
Distinguished members of the Polish government,
Esteemed members of the European Parliament,
I want to start by thanking Prime Minister Tusk not only for outlining his vision for the first Polish Presidency of the Council, but also for his vision on Europe. Your words, Mr Prime Minister were very inspiring. I know they come from a sincere commitment and belief in the importance of our European project, a project based on values.As Poland embarks upon its historic journey at the helm of the Council of the European Union, let me tell you that I have every confidence that Poland will uphold this vision, your vision, with rigour, and will execute the strategy with the same authority that it has shown in preparing this Presidency.
In doing so, Poland will have the full support of the European Commission. For we too have a similar vision of Europe, the Europe we want to see in ten years from now.
This is a vision of – and a plan towards - a strong, confident and innovative Europe. A Europe with high employment, quality jobs for its citizens and competitive, knowledge-based industries. A Europe with a fully exploited internal market. A Europe that is open – open inside, but also open to the world. A Europe whose citizens feel secure and confident in their futures.
The plan to execute this vision is detailed in the Europe 2020 strategy for sustainable, inclusive and smart growth.
To allow this plan to flourish, we need stable macro-economic foundations with the financial backstop stability mechanisms, tighter financial regulation and enhanced budgetary coordination.
Here, I would like to once again express how urgent it is for the European Parliament and Member States to come to an agreement sooner rather than later on the final points on the economic governance package.
I am glad that the Polish Presidency has seamlessly continued the efforts of the Hungarian Presidency to find a solution, together with the European Parliament.
With all these elements in place, we will need the right tools to make this vision a reality and put Europe back on a track to prosperity.
The Commission believes that the proposals we presented last week for the 2014-2020 Multi-annual Financial Framework will be a crucial instrument in delivering this vision.
As I explained yesterday in this Parliament, the fundamental guiding principle in the Commission's budgetary proposals is to ensure European added value.
Poland is indeed a strong advocate of the added value of the European Union. We just heard in very clear terms this commitment of Prime Minister Tusk. Therefore I look to the Presidency to shape the debate on the EU's future budget over the second half of this year in rational and constructive terms. Let me tell you that I am very encouraged by the positive reactions of this Parliament, and also by the early reaction in Council considering the proposal a credible and solid basis for negotiations. The important work to be done in the coming months will not only have a fundamental impact on the discussions next year, but it will also lay the ground for Europe’s future prosperity.
The overarching priority of our proposals is to boost European growth and jobs. This means strengthening the backbone of our internal market by funding better connections for energy, transport and IT between Member States.
It means increased and targeted spending on research, innovation and education to boost competitiveness. Believing in our future by investing in our young people.
Together with the forthcoming initiatives to deepen the Single Market, these proposals will be, I hope, strengthened by the positive vision of the Polish Presidency on ‘European integration as the source of growth’.
The budget proposals aim to enhance our security, which is also one of the three pillars of the Polish Presidency agenda. Security means improving our environment and climate. It means guaranteeing our energy supply. It means helping Europeans to feel safe by investing in the fight against crime and terrorism, as well as dedicating resources to migration and asylum policies. Security and freedom of circulation are not incompatible. In this context I refer to recent news coming from Denmark. As you know, I expressed directly to the Prime Minister of Denmark, in May, my grave concerns related to the respect of Treaty freedoms - free movement of goods, services and persons - and of the Schengen acquis.
Since then intensive and constructive contacts between the Commission services and Denmark are taking place on a daily basis at different levels. Denmark assures the Commission that it has no intention to infringe EU law and is ready to cooperate with the Commission.
We will assess in detail the recent measures introduced by the Danish authorities. Free movement of people, goods and services is a central piece of the European construction and guaranteed by the Treaties that all Member States have ratified. Undermining free movement is jeopardising the internal market, solidarity among Europeans and the very European project. The Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, will do its utmost to ensure this is respected all over Europe. We have done it in the past, we will do it in the future.
The third pillar of the Presidency’s agenda is Europe’s openness to the world.
The Commission has also sought, throughout the budget proposals, to guarantee an open Europe. We believe that Europe must invest in the stability and prosperity of its neighbourhood to the East and South, both because it is morally right and because it makes sense economically.
In this regard, I welcome the Presidency’s commitment to our Eastern neighbourhood, which will culminate in the Eastern Partnership summit in September.
I also pay tribute to the Polish Presidency’s commitment to build on the support Europe has shown in the first half of the year to the democratic movements in our Southern neighbourhood.
I moreover look to Poland to advance with the preparations of Croatia’s accession Treaty with the same dedication as demonstrated by the Hungarian Presidency.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Securing our future is also about securing our values, not letting them be threatened by short-term concerns.
Solidarity – a concept so perfectly espoused by the Poles (I dare to say that the Polish word that is most known outside is solidarność). Solidarity is an integral part of the entire financial perspectives proposal. Solidarity with our poorer regions, solidarity also with our neighbouring countries that need our support. But above all, solidarity with our children and grandchildren. To do our best to ensure they inherit a sustainable and strong Europe. A Europe we can be proud of.
Poland is indeed a European success story. It has not only escaped recent recession but has become one of our Union's drivers of growth. This puts Poland in a strong position to pursue the financial perspectives discussions in the Council and the European Parliament in a spirit of responsibility and ambition.
In a time of widespread uncertainty in Europe, Poland will need to show strong leadership to steer a course through turbulent events while maintaining its ambitious agenda. Historic times such as the ones we are living through demand historic leadership. I believe that you, Prime Minister Tusk, and Poland, can provide this kind of leadership in the Council.
The Commission will fully support the Polish Presidency's vision of a more strong, secure and open Europe. I am confident in Poland's ability not only to lead the Council of the Union but also to breathe new enthusiasm and optimism into the European project.
I thank you for your attention.