José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso after the meeting with Mr Jyrki Katainen, the Prime Minister of Finland
Brussels, 6 October 2011
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
It was indeed a pleasure to welcome Jyrki Katainen to the European Commission, on his first visit as Prime Minister of Finland. I have known Jyrki Katainen for a long time now, he is a good friend, I know his commitment to the European Union and I really expressed my gratitude for the strong leadership he is showing, defending of course the European project.
This was a timely occasion for us to discuss some of the pressing issues on our agenda notably our economic agenda, ahead of the European Council on 17-18 October. We are of course committed to the entry into force of the enhanced European Financial Stability Facility, the EFSF. The votes are now taking place in some of our Member States and we hope that this process will be concluded soon. And I once again want to urge the Member States that have not yet completed to do it as soon as possible. I think it would be in the interest of all of us.
Let me also take this opportunity to welcome the agreement reached on Monday between Finland and the other euro area Member States on the issue of collateral in relation to the second assistance package under discussion for Greece. This was also an important step forward.
These are times when the markets need all the reassurance we can give them! So let me also say this: We are determined to do everything necessary to ensure that Europe's banks are able to play their essential role in lending to citizens and businesses.
Recapitalisation efforts are well underway. Additional efforts may be needed and close coordination is of course essential.
The Commission is monitoring the situation closely, working together with national supervisors and the EBA, the European Banking Authority. We will continue to do so on a daily basis and we will support the ongoing efforts in any way we can.
And to end on an optimistic note, let me conclude by recalling Finland as an example. Finland has known in the past very serious economic and financial problems. In the early 1990s, Finland was in the midst of a severe banking crisis – and a deep recession. Its response was determined: it overhauled financial regulation, embraced structural reform, and invested heavily in education and innovation. This is exactly what we are doing now at the European level.
The result is there for all of us to see: Finland is one of the most competitive economies not only in Europe, but in the world. Its public finances are sound and it has for many years exceeded the European Union's targets for employment, research spending, renewable energy and early school leaving.
Finland is a key ally also for the Commission in our efforts to complete the single market and to implement Europe's digital agenda.
And finally, Finland is a strong supporter of the Community Method, of the European institutions, of the Community based on respect of rules. It is a strong supporter for the European Union project.
I would like to thank Prime Minister Katainen because I know how deeply he feels about this and how important it is at this time in the European Union that you reinforce the economic governance of Europe in full respect on our rules that are now being reinforced: more integration, more discipline, a more rules based Union with strong institutions at the centre of our project.
I think we can say that Finland has shown to all of us that it is possible to turn a crisis into an opportunity. That is exactly what we are doing now in Europe and I believe that we will succeed.