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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Remarks by President Barroso at the press conference following the European Council
Joint press conference with Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council
Brussels, 4 February 2011
One of the most important topics discussed today is how to achieve a greater convergence in competitiveness. So let me start precisely with this idea. I think we have had a very good discussion on these issues about economic growth and prosperity – how we can really achieve important decisions in terms of our comprehensive response. I will not repeat what President Van Rompuy just said, but let me just mention some matters that are really very important.
As you know we are now implementing a new governance system.
The Commission has put its blueprint on the table in the Annual Growth Survey which we believe sets the priorities for a competitive European economy.
It is extremely positive that Member States are committing to a comprehensive agenda and that they recognise that more convergence is necessary to achieve these higher levels of competitiveness. I am extremely pleased that the European Council has concluded in its conclusions that we will take our work forward, that we are going to complete the initiatives that were already taken in terms of governance, namely the approval of the Commission proposals on the basis of the agreements reached in the Task Force chaired by the President of the European Council and that we are even ready to go further namely in the euro area. The euro area confirmed its commitment to implement this comprehensive package. I believe that the deepening and reinforcing of economic policies in the euro area will strengthen our response to the crisis. The Commission will play its role to the full as defined by the treaty.
As you know we have kicked off the first European Semester. We have also confirmed that the six legislative proposals on economic governance should be adopted by June. That will give us I think a strong economic policy coordination in Europe.
Our discussion has shown that we should concentrate on the concrete action that will drive growth and also reassure the markets and citizens.
Delivering growth enhancing reforms is what matters. Precisely our decisions today, and some of them are historic namely on energy. Our decisions today are showing what is needed. We have discussed namely energy, but there are also very important conclusions on innovation.
But on energy in fact it is a major progress the one that was achieved today by all the Heads of State and Government, by the European Council
I am very pleased that the European Council has agreed on the four commitments that we put forward on energy policy. We need a truly integrated EU energy market by 2014. This can deliver 5 million new jobs, boost growth and reduce our energy dependency which currently costs us 310 billion euro a year.
Europe also has to do more on energy efficiency. That is the quickest way to reduce our bills, achieve our 2020 targets on climate and energy and cut consumers bills by 1000 euros per household. Energy efficiency is also a way of ensuring a higher level of energy security and this matter was very much in discussion today with Member States committed to more coordination in this field.
New technologies have a role to play here. And in today's world, if we want our economy to stay on top, we need to ensure the right conditions for a steady supply of home-grown European ideas and inventions. That is what will allow European companies to compete effectively and grow globally. So I'm glad that we have put innovation at the heart of our economic policy.
I'm not going to – because it's a little late – repeat the most important conclusions of innovation but you can see from the conclusions that they are in fact very important. And that translates the importance that we have given them in the context of our Europe 2020 Strategy.
So: historic decisions on energy, very important conclusions also on innovation and preparation of a very important comprehensive response regarding the crisis, namely with a reinforced commitment in the euro area to address some of those issues in terms of more convergence, trying to achieve higher degrees of competitiveness and of course we also discussed – I will not repeat the conclusions on Egypt already discussed by President Herman Van Rompuy and how important our coordinated action is as a response to the challenges coming from there.