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SPEECH/11/508

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso following the meeting between the European Commission and the Polish government

Press conference

Warsaw, 8 July 2011

Prime Minister, dear friend,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be back in Warsaw so quickly! I would like to thank Prime Minister Tusk for the warm welcome. He and his government have given to the Commission today, as we are meeting to discuss the tasks ahead and our cooperation during the first Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Prime Minister, thank you once again for your extremely kind remarks. It is a pleasure to work with you. We have been working already for some years in extremely difficult, sometimes extremely challenging files, but now during the Presidency of the Council by Poland, I am sure that this same spirit of friendship and cooperation will even be more important.

Already now it is clear that Prime Minister Tusk and Poland are bringing a lot of energy and dynamism, and very serious preparations into this Presidency!

I also want to congratulate the Prime Minister for the strong support and encouragement he received this week in the European Parliament for Poland's ambitious Presidency programme. And also I want to congratulate Prime Minister Tusk for the vision he has set out for Europe, a Europe based on the community method and on solidarity: community approach and solidarity as the guiding lights of Europe. This was indeed a very inspiring speech, that was touching not only the Presidency of the Council, but the future of Europe, and it was highly appreciated by the most important political forces - those democratic forces that want to cooperate in the spirit of consensus for the good of Europe and its citizens. Because in fact, we are in an extremely difficult and important moment in Europe and in the world. If you look at the world, we see that major shifts of power are taking place. The question for Europe is to remain relevant, to be at the table where the decisions important for the world are taken. Not to leave it only for our partners, sometimes our competitors. And without solving among ourselves the issues we have, we will not be able to project our interests, to defend our values in the age of globalisation.

So what is at stake is extremely important, because Member States, even the biggest Member States alone, will not have the leverage to deal with these matters globally. But together, the 27 Member States and the European institutions, we can defend also our national interests in a much more determined and coherent manner.

So this is why it is so important to succeed in this point of time in Europe in terms of the challenges we are facing internally, but also externally. And I think it is really important that Poland comes at this moment of time to the Presidency of the Council. I am not saying this just because of courtesy, or politeness, or because of my friendship with Prime Minister Tusk. I am saying it because I deeply believe in it. There is now, in some courtesy in Europe, some kind of pessimism, negativism. That's the reality. We see some extremists, putting in question the importance of the European Union. They are in fact making a very bad service to their own countries. Their own countries will not have their interests protected, if Europe does not count in the world.

In Washington, our American friends, or in Beijing, or in Moscow, or in other parts of the world, they don't know about the subtleties of the European Union institutions. But they know that this is Europe and if Europe cannot take decisions in proactive, cooperative manner, all the countries of Europe will suffer the consequences.

That is why it is so important to have this community approach, this solidarity approach, when it comes to dealing with the European Union. That is why these are not just words or programmatic intentions. These are indeed lines of action for very important and concrete issues where we can take a decision to act together or to go alone. And that is why I really welcome the spirit and the commitment of Poland and I think this Polish optimism and enthusiasm, matched also by Polish competence and realism, will be contagious. Indeed, this very first Polish Presidency of the Council appears to be a good omen for the future of Europe.

Because of time I will not go in detail on the issues we have discussed in the very interesting discussion we just had now between the College of Commissioners and the government of Poland. The issues were going from the economic situation to connecting Europe projects in the field of infrastructures, to the Neighbourhood policy, namely the Eastern Partnership. I really thank the initiatives of Poland regarding the Easter Partnership. We very much count on the know-how and the commitment of Europe to push forward this agenda.

So I will not go in detail on those issues. I just want to tell you that we have this cooperative approach and we have defined very informal concrete ways of dealing with these issues during these six months. And I really believe that because of the success story that Poland has been, especially after accession to the European Union and because Poland was able to avoid recession and now Poland is growing economically, I think Poland is not only growing economically, but growing very much in influence in Europe and in the world, I am sure that Poland is in a better position now to shape the debates to come including the debate on the future financial perspectives, but also to ask and commit with all the other Member States for a joint approach to the challenges we are facing in Europe and in the world. The European Commission will be a loyal partner of Poland in this very important task.

Once again congratulations for your vision and thank you very much Prime Minister, dear friend, for the excellent preparations and success of today's meeting.

Thank you.


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