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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Presentation of European Commission Work Programme 2012
Strasbourg, 15th November 2011
The past few weeks have again shown how much is at stake for the European Union today. We must react quickly and decisively to events that affect every citizen and every household in Europe. Against this background it is more essential than ever that our institutions strengthen our cooperation and show common resolve to deliver rapid and effective responses to the crisis.
The basis for a successful response is to have a clear consensus about where Europe is heading. I believe that the Commission and this Parliament do share this consensus, this ambition for a European Union that is stable and strong. That is open and really united.
The Commission Work Programme is a key building block to achieving this vision. It is therefore particularly important that it rests on a series of intensive exchanges between our two institutions.
This intensive dialogue has been decisive in determining the focus of the Programme for 2012. Through the Conference of Committee Chairs, the Committee of Presidents, and the "structured dialogue" between Commissioners and Committees, and I would also add, Mr President, the political dialogue that we had with you that you were invited several times to the College of Commissioners, through all these occasions we have been able to explore key measures across the full range of our work.
The State of the Union debate was at the core of this work. It set the tone. We were right to be ambitious for Europe. Our common messages were heard.
Many of them are indeed reflected in the recent European Council conclusions, and they provide the backbone of the Programme.
The events of the last weeks only confirm that we are at a key moment in the history of our Union. To secure the reforms that Europe needs to transform itself, we have to win the confidence of citizens and also of investors. We need a European renewal.
Regaining confidence requires swift and decisive action. We are constantly being called upon to take swift decisions. Last week we reshaped the Commission's rules to give a special role to the new task of Vice-President for Economic and Monetary Affairs.
This was done as a matter of urgency to allow Vice President Rehn to appear before the ECON Committee of this Parliament on 23rd November also as Vice-President for the Euro.
For next week, we have accelerated the Annual Growth Survey. We will also present new proposals on further deepening European Union and Euro area economic governance to provide further stability, discipline and convergence, and to complement the reforms agreed through the so-called 'six-pack'.
Since we are going to have tomorrow the opportunity to discuss these matters more in detail I will not now go on this part.
But I know that we have the support of this Parliament for such decisive action. The political consensus that we are shaping together to tackle the crisis is the springboard for this action.
And now I can say that the same should be true for next year's programme. By the end of 2012, we should see the ambitious measures we are putting forward today being passed into national law; we should see implementation starting to bite and have a real impact; and we will have further measures proposed by the Commission.
We know well our common priorities. We must achieve sustainable and job-creating growth. We must bring public finances back on track. We must restore confidence in our European Union's ability to get out of the economic crisis.
Over the next year, we can show that the European Union has what we need to overcome the crisis and restore growth. It has the vision we need, in the shape of our political consensus for action on this renewal. It has the tools we need, with the transparent and democratic approach enshrined in the Community method. And it has the collective determination we need to carry through ideas into action.
Our joint determination has also managed to move opposition in Council to the programme of aid to the most deprived persons.
Following our insistence, Council finally approved this scheme for the most deprived persons yesterday. For after 2013, the Commission has already tabled a new proposal. It is now up to this Parliament and the Council to decide on it. Once it should be clear: the Commission does not give up on having this kind of programme after 2013.
The Commission has focused its work programme for 2012 on reinforcing stability and responsibility, while at the same time stimulating growth, doing everything we can to counter the very negative outlook we have today for economic situation in Europe.
With the Europe 2020 strategy we have the blueprint for achieving sustainable and job-creating growth. We now have to keep up the momentum – and agree and implement changes that bring real benefit. We have to be coherent, consistent in implementation. We cannot only approve measures and afterwards forget about their implementation. It is extremely important to follow on.
Europe 2020 can be the spark to a virtuous circle of growth, and I count on your support to help give the process the political momentum it needs.
The work of the European semester will be critical over the next year, to drill down action into Member States and ensure that all parts of Europe help each other to recover.
Part and parcel of this work is of course to ensure sound public finances. We cannot do this by turning our backs on ways to improve revenues. That is why we need to keep up the pressure on the Financial Transaction Tax, and why we will be looking at new measures to tackle tax havens and counter VAT fraud. We will also make a focused proposal on protecting of the financial interest of the EU, including by criminal law.
We will also press on with financial sector reform. Key proposals will be on the table by the end of this year, including on bank resolution. Next year we will press on with measures on investor protection, critical to deepening confidence in the sector. Institutions for occupational retirement provision are also a sector to work on next year.
The backbone of our strength as we have said so often is the Single Market. It has made us what we are today, the world's largest economy. We need to further develop it and bring it into the 21st century so that it can continue to generate growth.
Twenty years on from its inception, we can show that the Single Market remains our key motor for sustainable growth in Europe.
This is why we have proposed to fast-track the priority proposals set out in the Single Market Act. We have accelerated our work on these proposals; and we are asking the legislators to work to see these in law by the end of next year.
There is a wide range of proposals on the table. If we want to have a real impact on growth, and quickly, we need to adopt them, and see them implemented. The European patent, roaming charges, the energy savings directive – these are all examples where early adoption would also show an EU determined to do everything possible to boost growth.
The modern European economy also rests heavily on the digital Single Market. We will address the risks of electronic services being hampered by incompatible national copyright regimes, with a proposal on rules for the cross-border licensing of on-line music. A pan-European framework for electronic identification and signatures will give the confidence needed to boost electronic transactions across the EU.
Growth is also generated by consumers. Their confidence is key to boosting demand. A comprehensive Consumer Agenda will provide a secure foundation for consumer transactions in the Single Market, while revised rules on General Product Safety will offer a clear framework both for consumers and manufacturers.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The growth we need to achieve in the European Union has to go hand in hand with the creation of sustainable jobs. We need to give a new momentum to flexicurity to drive a jobs-rich recovery, closely involving the social partners. More than ever social dialogue is necessary both at European and national level. We will help young people to move around Europe with a Youth on the Move card. We also want to look again at the handling of supplementary pension rights of people who change jobs: this must not be allowed to stay an obstacle.
I am also determined that we do not lose sight of our longer-term need to build an economic recovery that is sustainable. Next year will be a key moment of transition to the revised Emissions Trading System.
The Rio+ summit will remind us of our global obligations for sustainability and green growth, looking in particular at a new water strategy. New proposals on emissions for passenger cars and vans will spur innovation and give manufacturers the necessary regulatory certainty. We will also draw the conclusions of the stress tests following the Fukushima accident for legislation. I believe that next year we will see important initiatives in the field of green growth. I know that now we are facing a difficult situation in economical and budgetary terms in many of our Member States. It is not so popular to speak about this agenda, but I believe that more than ever we need this kind of initiatives and we are working precisely on linking some of our initiatives in terms of climate action, protection of the environment with the e-economy, the digital economy, so that we can indeed have important breakthroughs in terms of our action for a green growth.
Providing security and justice in a borderless Europe continues to be a big challenge. For an open Europe to work, we need to make sure that its border regime is up-to-date. Modernisation and the use of new technology will ensure that the system encourages cross-border activity while providing the necessary safeguards.
I also believe this is a time of real opportunity for the EU on the global stage. This is key to recovery. We will be taking forward a wide range of bilateral trade negotiations, as well as continuing to make the case for a European approach in fora such as the WTO, the G20 and the G8. At the same time, we must continue to respond to the dramatic changes in the Southern Mediterranean. I believe we have a responsibility to do everything we can to help the post-transition societies there to develop successfully, and the Commission is determined to support that process. I believe that longer term stability and prosperity in our close neighbours is also a part from our commitment to the important values in our very urgent interest.
I know that we already have a wide agenda on the table. The measures on economic governance, on the single market, on financial services, not to mention on the Multiannual Financial Framework – these will make huge demands on us all over the coming year.
And we know that we are going to deal with these very important initiatives also against the backdrop of economic and financial instability where the news coming from Europe and also from other parts of the world are not always the best. That makes us need more than ever the spirit of responsibility and solidarity among the Member States and among the European institutions.
I believe that confidence comes through showing that the EU has the determination to act. I believe that in the past we have seen that some times it is in the conditions of huge pressure and precisely resisting or reacting to crisis that the European Union is able to show how important it is for the prosperity of our citizens. I hope that the Commission can count on your support to join us in delivering concrete, and ambitious action.
I thank you for your attention.