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SPEECH/11/822

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso at the joint press point with President Obama and President Van Rompuy at the EU-US Summit in Washington

EU-US summit

Washington, 28 November 2011

President Obama,

Ladies and Gentleman,

The European Union and the United States have just concluded a very useful, substantive and rewarding meeting. The European Union and the US are longstanding partners and staunch allies. The transatlantic relationship is indispensable to tackle the common challenges that we face. We have just reaffirmed our determination to work closely together for the stability of the global economy and for the benefit of our peoples.

I reassured President Obama and I want to reassure the Americans: Europe is going through rough times, but we are taking strong measures and are determined to move on and move forward. Problems in Europe are part of a wider picture: the world economy has not yet been able to absorb and overcome all these effects of the 2008 financial crisis. We face – in the EU and in the US – the common challenge of bringing debt under control while relaunching growth and creating new jobs. It is not an easy task in either side of the Atlantic.

In Europe, we have come a long way in addressing both the causes and the symptoms of the crisis. We have strengthened the economic governance of the EU and the euro area, with much more robust rules to ensure sound budgetary policies and tackle imbalances. These new rules will enter into force in just a few weeks time.

And just last week, I have put forward new proposals to further strengthen budgetary surveillance and fiscal discipline. At the same time, we have an ambitious agenda for growth, based on far-reaching structural reforms. The way forward in Europe is through more integration. This crisis has caused an acceleration of history and we must be ready today to take the measures that were envisaged only for tomorrow. I told President Obama that Europe is ready to do that.

If there is a silver lining to all of this, it is perhaps that it has shown just how interdependent our economies now are. Therefore, we need to work ever more closely together. The EU and the US have the largest bilateral economic relationship in the world. Together our economies account for around 50% of the world's GDP and one third of total world trade. EU-US trade and investment generates 15 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition, Europe accounts for approximately 70% of foreign direct investment in the United States and US investment is three times larger in Europe than in Asia.

To help ensure that the transatlantic economy can be an engine for the recovery of the world economy, the EU and the US have today decided to create a High-Level Working Group for Jobs and Growth. This group will examine how to strengthen the EU-US trade and investment relationship and in so doing boost growth and job creation. This will allow us to further benefit from the untapped potential of our existing strong economic ties.

But today’s world is not just about economy. It is also about values and standards. The EU and the US share a firm belief in freedom, democracy, human rights, and prosperity. They are the hallmarks of our societies and what binds us together. The sweeping transformations that are now taking place in the Middle East and North Africa confirm that the values we share are, indeed, universal. When given a choice, people everywhere choose freedom over oppression, democracy over tyranny.


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