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SPEECH/11/688

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso at the press conference on Connecting Europe

Press conference

Brussels, 19 October 2011

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

As you know we are currently working on some of the most important and difficult issues that the European Union is facing. Attention is understandably focussed on the stability of the euro, fiscal discipline, structural reforms and support for Europe's banks. But I want to be absolutely clear that an essential part of our approach is to put in place the conditions for growth and job creation. We are frontloading growth so that we can take the necessary steps also to promote jobs. And investment is part of the answer.

I'm therefore very pleased to announce that the Commission has today adopted a plan which will fund €50 billion worth of investment to improve Europe's transport, energy and digital networks. Today we are making a down payment for Europe's future growth and jobs.

We have also adopted the terms for the Project Bond Initiative. From 2014 on, the Project Bond Initiative will be embedded in the Connecting Europe Facility, for which significant budget resources will be available. But we propose to already start now with a pilot phase. We will use up to €230 million from the EU Budget to mobilise private investment up to €4.5 billion for a number of projects. This is the result of excellent cooperation with the European Investment Bank. I will ask Olli Rehn to outline this in more detail in a moment. Commissioners Kallas and Oettinger will present their proposals in more detail in the coming hours.

This big line-up of Commissioners has a reason. The future European budget must deliver a significant contribution to growth and jobs.

The purpose of our proposal is simple. Europe must help to build the roads, railways, energy grids, pipelines, and broadband networks that are so important to our citizens and businesses.

Targeted investments through the "Connecting Europe Facility" will help to close the missing links in Europe's infrastructure. Without this kind of investments it will not be possible to have these missing links. This investment will generate growth and jobs and at the same time make work and travel easier for millions of European citizens and also for businesses.

€31.7 billion will be invested to upgrade Europe's transport infrastructure, including €10 billion ring fenced in the Cohesion Fund. €9.1 billion in trans-European infrastructure to meet the Europe 2020 energy and climate objectives and €9.2 billion in support investment in fast broadband networks and pan-European digital services.

Let me give just a couple of examples:

  • We are linking up major freight and passenger corridors across Europe, for example along North-South corridors stretching from Helsinki to Valletta. We are linking also from west to east investing in a rail connection stretching from Atlantic Sines in Portugal, through Madrid in Spain to a major hub in Bordeaux in France. We will invest in a major East to West connection stretching from Warsaw, via Berlin to Rotterdam. Major bottlenecks like the Fehmarn bridge and the Brenner tunnel will be completed by 2020 with the help of this financing.

  • We have also identified 11 energy corridors that cover all parts of the EU. We are working to finance such projects as the Southern Gas Corridor and the North Sea offshore wind farm to transport electricity to consumers. Other examples include compressors so that gas can flow in both directions when there is an interruption in supply.

  • And we will invest in high speed broadband to help internet based services and e-commerce.

Targeted investment must come together with implementing the growth related proposals that have already been agreed, proposals that are still on the table and the fast-tracking of new growth enhancing proposals like the Single Market Act.

While the focus in today's debate is often elsewhere, the comprehensive approach to the economic crisis must have growth at its heart. At the start of the European Council on Sunday, I will make a presentation on frontloading structural and growth-releasing reforms that need to be taken.

Turning to the rest of this weekend's European Council and Euro area Summit agenda.

Last week the Commission presented a Roadmap for a comprehensive approach to break the deadlock on the crisis.

I'm pleased to say that this has become the reference point for the discussions in the European Union, but also in the G20. The Commission's five point plan sets the parameters for the deal. It has received widespread support from member states and members of the G20. It was also very well received in the European Parliament.

We now need to flesh this out, with often complex technical work that is still going on, in particular on the other four elements of the package:

  • Firstly, decisive action on Greece based on the debt sustainability report; we are preparing with the IMF;

  • Secondly, strengthening the euro area's crisis intervention tools, in particular the EFSF as I called for back in January and I reiterated in August;

  • Thirdly, strengthening the banks, including by recapitalisation;

  • And finally, the institutional dimension - better euro area governance for the future. I expect the European Council to recognise that the Community approach will be the basis of our future European governance model.

This weekend, I will insist on the need for decisive answers on all the five points of this Roadmap, of this comprehensive package. It is a question of credibility for Europe that it can turn up at the G20 in Cannes with the main agreements in place.

Thank you.


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