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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso following the European Parliament debate on the start of the Polish Presidency

Joint press conference with Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, and Donald Tusk, Prime Minister of Poland

Strasbourg, 6 July 2011

Ladies and gentlemen,

As I said in the plenary, probably you were following that debate, what happened today was quite interesting, because there was strong support to the programme of the Polish Presidency and to the very inspiring speech of Prime Minister Tusk. The most important political forces endorsed this vision. But at the same time we have heard also very aggressive remarks from some of the eurosceptic or europhobic fringes. And why did this happen? Because the truth is that many of them were expecting the enlargement of the European Union to mean less commitment to the European Union, and now they see that the biggest new Member, Poland, comes with real enthusiasm, confidence, optimism - the kind of enthusiasm, confidence and optimism that I would like to see in all capitals of the European Union Member States. And they were disappointed. They were deeply disappointed because Poland is bringing precisely a positive message for the future of Europe - saying that this enlarged Europe needs to go deeper. That enlargement is not in contradiction with the deepening of the European Union. That we need to assess all the consequences of our level of interdependence, that we need more Europe, a better Europe, that in many areas we need more solidarity, more cohesion, more commitment to the common goals and this was the most important message of the Polish Presidency. So on behalf of the Commission I reiterated my strong support to this Presidency. There are indeed very important issues to be tackled. Of course the first one is the economic and financial crisis including the sovereign debt crisis.

Just this weekend, the Eurogroup of finance ministers agreed to release the next tranche of financial assistance to Greece, following the approval in the Greek parliament of the revised economic programme. This paves the way for the country to begin rebuilding its future. This was of course important news.

The European Commission will do everything possible to assist Greece in this process and I believe the Polish Presidency will undoubtedly have an important role to play in advancing this issue in the coming months.

Also on economic matters, the Polish Presidency has already taken over and continued the Hungarian Presidency's efforts to find agreement between the co-legislators on the so-called 'six-pack' on economic governance.

The Commission warmly welcomes this rapid initiative and we remain adamant that agreement must be found as soon as possible.

Poland takes over the helm of the EU Council Presidency, precisely when lively debate has begun on the Commission's proposals for the Multi-annual Financial Framework for 2014-2020 that we have put forward last week.

We made every possible effort to put forward a responsible and ambitious budgetary proposal and I hope for the forthcoming debate to be conducted in the same spirit. I fully trust the Polish Presidency will do everything it can to shape the debate in these rational constructive terms. I'm encouraged by the first reactions. There was a very good reaction and support from the most important forces in the European Parliament. And as for Member States, I was not expecting them to agree immediately with our proposal, but in fact Member States in the Council considered our proposal as a solid, credible basis for negotiation. So things started, I believe, in the right way.

So now there is a lot to do. I will not repeat all the points I have made in my remarks in the plenary, but the Eastern Partnership is a very important area where we believe the know-how of Poland can also bring more impetus to this very important agenda.

There are many other issues on the very ambitious programme of the Polish Presidency. So once again congratulations on the very good beginning. This was indeed a very inspiring speech. For me it was not a surprise. I know that Prime Minister Tusk was not just saying that to please the European Parliament. We have been working together in the European Council now for some time and I know that Poland has always been, with Prime Minister Tusk, defending the community approach, strong European institutions, a real commitment to cohesion, solidarity and to an approach of an ambitious leadership for Europe. So this was not a surprise. Now we have to put all our energy into delivering a successful Presidency for the Council, because it will be, I am sure, a success for you and a success for Europe.

Thank you.

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