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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso ahead of the meeting of the Heads of State or Government of the Euro area

Press statement

Brussels, 20 July 2011

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tomorrow, 24 hours from now precisely, the Heads of State and Government of the Euro area will meet in Brussels to address the present challenges in the Euro area.

Nobody should be under any illusion: The situation is very serious. It requires a response. Otherwise the negative consequences will be felt in all corners of Europe and beyond.

The situation requires full engagement by everyone at the summit, and I believe we will have it.

The elements for a solution are known. Last week's Eurogroup conclusions provide the starting point. The Commission has pushed, and will continue to push, for an ambitious and comprehensive approach.

This being said, the minimum we must do tomorrow is to provide clarity on the following:

  • Measures to ensure the sustainability of Greek public finances;

  • Feasibility and limits of Private Sector Involvement;

  • Scope for more flexible action through the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF);

  • Repair of the banking sector still needed;

  • Measures to ensure the provision of liquidity to our banking system.

There should also be a clear and unequivocal signal that the Council will conclude the economic governance package with the European Parliament.

Most of the decisions to be taken tomorrow belong to the competence of the Member States. They have reserved the instruments to themselves. And they have said they will do what it takes to ensure the stability of the Euro area. Well, now is the time to make good on that promise. There is of course also the responsibility of the European Central Bank. A solution will require that all actors exercise their responsibility to the full.

Leaders need to come to the table saying what they can do and what they want to do and what they will do. Not what they can't do and won't do. This is what I ask from them. I urge all the leaders to show the ethics of European responsibility.

Throughout this whole process, I have been making the case that it is in the self-interest of every Member State to commit. It is true for those who have to reduce deficit and debt, and it is also true for those who are asked for support and solidarity.

The truth is: we are inter-dependent. This is not an option. It is a reality. In a globalised world, our partners count on Europe, but without Europe and the European Union, Europeans will not count. In a globalized world, either we act as Europe, or we are not actors at all.

The Euro is one of our greatest assets. Its benefits far outweigh the effort that is required by the Member States on the different sides of the negotiation. We cannot be light about this, or else history will judge this generation of leaders harshly.

The Commission is fulfilling its part. Over the last couple of weeks, I have intensified my contacts with Heads of State and Government. Commissioner Rehn and the services of the Commission have made proposals and suggested options. We are doing everything to bring the different sides together, both through our political contacts and our technical expertise.

In that respect, let me also mention two decisions that the Commission has taken today:

First of all, on Greece. Part of what we need to do is bringing growth back to Greece. The last European Council welcomed my proposal to mobilize technical expertise from the Commission and Member States to the reform process in Greece. I am pleased to announce that, today, the Commission has created the "Task Force for Greece" to deliver on what we have decided. Work on the ground will start immediately.

Secondly, on financial regulation. The Commission has just adopted the proposal for the transposition of the Basel III agreement on bank capital requirements. Once again, with this, Europe will be the first mover.

All of this is part of the wide-ranging exercise of reform and renewal that Europe is undertaking and that Europe has to deepen. But all of our efforts are based on a strong single market and a strong Euro. That is what is at stake.

That is why we must provide a solution tomorrow.

I believe now is the time to decide.

With goodwill on all sides, we can have a solution tomorrow.

Thank you for your attention.

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