José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso after the meeting with the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Brussels, 13 October 2011
Thank you for coming so soon after your election here to Brussels
Let me again congratulate you on your appointment as Prime Minister of Denmark after a successful election. I can tell you that I felt that Helle Thorning-Schmidt feels very much at home in EU matters. I hope that she will also show to the Danish people that they are also at home in the European Union. And since there will be the Danish Presidency of the Council very soon, I am sure there will be many opportunities to reinforce this relationship between the European institutions and Denmark and that Denmark can make a decisive contribution to our common project.
The new Danish government has taken office in one of the most demanding periods of recent decades. All our economies are facing immense economic challenges. Therefore, promoting stability and returning to sustainable growth must remain at the top of the European Union's agenda in the coming months and years.
Denmark has an important political contribution to make to Europe's way out of the crisis.
Our discussions today were mainly about the crucial European Council and the meetings ahead.
We agreed that we need to deliver a solution to break the vicious circle between doubts over the sustainability of sovereign debt, the stability of the banking system and the EU's growth prospects.
The roadmap I presented yesterday sets out five interdependent elements which must be implemented together and as quickly as possible:
- Give a decisive response to the problems of Greece
- Enhance the Euro area's backstops against the crisis
- Strengthen the banking system, namely through recapitalisation
- Frontload stability and growth enhancing policies
- Build a more robust and integrated economic governance
I am confident that Denmark will engage actively in the debate on future governance and integration on economic matters. The decision to take part in the Euro Plus Pact was an important sign in this regard. So when we discuss about the future of the euro, we discuss with all the European Union.
Denmark will assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in January 2012. The European Commission will give the Presidency its full active and loyal support to take forward vital work to promote growth and improve the single market as well as addressing the environmental and social challenges. I also hope that the Union under Danish Presidency will be able to make real progress on the preparation of the next multiannual financial framework, which is geared to deliver growth, jobs and value for money. We discussed this in more concrete terms during our very friendly and constructive meeting.
With Denmark at the helm of the EU, we will certainly also have an important opportunity to drive forward our climate action. I know how committed Denmark is to the green agenda to fight against climate change and I really believe we can make progress also building on the expertise of our Danish Commissioner for climate action, Connie Hedegaard, whose work I appreciate very much.
Domestically, the Danish Presidency offers a window for showing what positive difference Europe makes in the daily lives of Danish citizens. The values and objectives that Denmark shares with the EU are essential for the EU to deliver results. I want to welcome in this context the announcement made by the Prime Minister on her first day in office stating that the government does not intend to implement plans from May 2011 to build new infrastructure for customs authorities at internal borders. This was, Prime Minister, a very important announcement and I thank you for that. This was indeed an issue that caused serious concerns to the Commission and I am happy we can now put it behind us. I am sure that the full respect of free movement will be beneficial for both Denmark and for the European Union. Frankly this is what I was expecting from a country like Denmark with such a strong tradition of openness.
To conclude: I am confident that Denmark with its new government will continue the longstanding tradition of a constructive and valuable Danish contribution to Europe's progress and during the Presidency and beyond Denmark will contribute to the European spirit which we need very badly in our Union. Your announcements, Prime Minster, also about some of the opt-ins or opt-outs and the way you want to address them was also a good news. The fact that you could win the elections with a message that was pro-European shows that sceptics are not right, that it is possible to be defending Europe and to win elections. That it is possible to work together for a better Europe, of course defending our national interest, that is what we are expecting from all leaders in Europe that they defend their national interest. But it is possible to defend the national interests in a way that is compatible with our common European interest. So your visit here today is a testimony of your new government's European spirit. It was a pleasure to welcome you here to the Commission today. I am looking forward to many years of intense cooperation.