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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Donald Tusk, Prime Minister of Poland
Brussels, 31 January 2011
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to welcome Prime Minister Tusk back to the European Commission. I welcome him as a colleague, but also as a personal friend and a true friend of the European Union. He has always been a strong supporter of the work of the European Commission and I believe today’s discussion has again confirmed that we have a shared agenda for Europe. This is of course important. It is even more important now that Poland is preparing the next cycle of the rotating presidency of the Council.
We have discussed the forthcoming Polish Presidency of the Council and the more immediate tasks that Europe must address. In fact, this week we have a very important European Council.
As you know the initial idea was that the European Council would deal exclusively, or at least mainly, with energy and innovation and in fact these are extremely important issues.
When the Commission launched the Annual Growth Survey a couple of weeks ago, I urged the leaders of the European Union to address the economic situation at this week’s European Council. I believe that we must advance decisively in our work on the comprehensive response that Europe needs.
I’m pleased that the economy is now on the agenda later this week. We are dealing with complex matters, but we should seize this moment to step up our preparations for the important decisions we need to take in March.
We all agree that we need a comprehensive approach. Important progress has already been made with the start of the European Semester. It gives us the upstream coordination of budgetary and other economic policies, including by the way structural reforms, macro-economic imbalances and matters like the need to put very high in the agenda our competitiveness objectives. The Annual Growth Survey, which the Commission has put on the table, sets out in ten concrete actions the three main priorities for Europe's recovery: macro-economic stability, structural reforms and growth enhancing measures. This will be further strengthened through the reinforced surveillance foreseen in the six legislative proposals for economic governance, proposals that the Commission has put forward also building on the consensus that was achieved in the Task Force. Taken together, these will be at the core of any comprehensive package.
I believe Friday's European Council should provide the clear direction for progress on the comprehensive package. While the economic situation may grab the headlines, it would be a mistake to ignore the importance of our discussions on energy and innovation.
As I have said before, a common energy policy should be the next great European integration project.
We need a safe, secure, sustainable and affordable energy supply. This is a key to our economy interests not only at the internal market level but also for the European Union as a global player. This new policy has to ensure that no Member State is isolated from the rest of Europe. This is why we need to accelerate the pace of implementation of the internal market on energy. We also need to discuss how we can get back on track to meet our energy efficiency targets for 2020.
I would like to see the European Council later this week agree on the key missing infrastructure links and on how to remove all barriers to a truly European energy market. The Commission has put the key proposals on the table. I believe we can make real progress, not just with statements, but also with concrete projects.
On Thursday night, before the European Council, I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Tusk and a number of other Prime Ministers back here to agree on the creation of a North-South energy corridor. This is the latest practical example of Europe’s value added to its citizens.
Today, we have also discussed the other topic of the European Council, innovation policy. I believe we can make a major push here – both in terms of recognising the link to growth and jobs, but also in terms of simplification and investment. Here again we have put important proposals on the table. I am pleased to see that the views of Member states are converging. For innovation, as well as for energy, action taken at national level is indispensable. But in both areas determined and comprehensive action at European level can offer real added value.
Once again I would like to thank Prime Minister Tusk for the impeccable cooperation with the Commission on all the European agenda issues. I look forward to working with Prime Minister Tusk and all the Polish team in the months ahead and I know now from experience of many years that the European Union may count also on a strong Poland with a Prime Minister committed to our values and to our priorities.