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SPEECH/11/ 781

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso ahead of the meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt

Press point

Brussels , 21 November 2011

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

I'm delighted to welcome Prime Minister Reinfeldt back to the European Commission. I don't normally give press statements before meetings, but in this case, we did not want to keep you waiting. It is also certainly easier because of the large convergence in our respective positions on the main economic and political issues. So I think I can tell you already what the Prime Minister is going to tell me and he knows also well what I am going to say to him, since he is indeed a friend. Thank you very much for coming, Fredrik, to this kind meeting.

Our focus tonight will be on the serious economic situation we face in parts of the euro area and also the preparation for the European Council on the 9th December.

As you, on Wednesday the Commission will adopt the Annual Growth Survey – the economic plan for the next year – and a set of proposals for strengthened economic stability in Europe.

I want to thank Prime Minister Reinfeldt for his strong support for our growth agenda. It is essential that front-load measures to stimulate growth in areas like services, digital and support for SME's. Sweden has very much shown the lead. In Sweden we are clearly seeing the fruits of previous ambitious reforms, both in terms of fiscal and structural reforms.

I have to be honest: the Annual Growth Survey we publish on Wednesday will not be as positive. Overall, we have seen an unconvincing performance with many commitments made last year not being implemented fully. On Wednesday, the Commission will not shy away from being explicit on where more effort is needed.

Tonight, we will have the chance to discuss the Commission's proposals to strengthen economic governance in the euro area using the existing treaties, and if necessary, through Treaty change. Here again, I think we have a very similar position. The need for deeper integration of policies and economic governance for the euro area is clear. This is the only way to secure the long-term sustainability of the euro. At the same time, we must do everything we can to avoid fragmentation and guard against the risks of a divided or split Union that would no longer be a Union if it is split. That means, we should use the existing Treaty, the existing Community law, the existing Community institutions which are the best safeguard for the interests of all the European Union including of course, all its 27 member states.

So I want to thank my good friend Fredrik Reinfeldt for his strong support for the work of the Commission, for his commitment to our common European project. I think we have a shared desire for the European Union to be open and united. And that seems not so very ambitious, it is indeed more important than ever for Europe to become united and open and not call into question these basic principles. I want to thank Sweden, for the support for this agenda and to thank him personally for joining me here tonight.

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