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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso on the conclusion of the Polish Presidency

Joint press conference

Strasbourg, 14 December 2011

Today in the ocean of Polish language and enthusiasm I feel I am here like a small island for the sake of diversity. And so to protect minorities let me speak in English.

First of all, let me say very clearly that under its presidency of the Council, Poland demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to address the key issues facing the EU and seize the opportunities arising from one of the most challenging periods in the history of our Union, probably the most difficult since the European integration started.

Poland proved that putting its heart and soul into its Presidency, demonstrating great European commitment, to address the challenges facing Europe and driving its priorities resolutely forward really pays off. And I think this is extremely important because sometimes in Europe there is in the European debate there is an idea to oppose national interest to European interest. And Poland has shown that probably the best way to defend the national interest is indeed to be Pro-European in the 21st century in Europe.

So it was possible and at the same time that Poland brought its own sensitivity, the way Poland looks at the world, some priorities that are very important to Poland for instance energy security, external energy policy, the commitment to the Eastern neighbourhood, it is extremely desirable that Member States bring this national sensitivity but at the same time do it as a contribution to our European project. I think it is a lesson also for future presidencies.

The Polish Presidency has had an approach to the crisis that is based on a truly European approach, plenty of community spirit and a longer-term vision of Europe. It has shown that ambitious and responsible economic policies and the principle of solidarity can go together.

Poland has, during its Presidency, put itself at the service of deeper European integration, a stable economy and also a stronger Euro – its future currency - . So the fact that Poland is not yet in the Euro was not an obstacle, on the contrary. Poland has shown its commitment to the currency of the European Union, to the Euro and at the same time working for the integrity of the European Union, of the Single Market and of all the "acquis communautaire".

So I am not going now to - because I do not want to offend the modesty of Prime Minister Tusk and his team - I am not going to highlight all the achievements. Probably you have heard my speech in the European Parliament.

What I would like to conclude with is a reference to the political message that Prime Minister Tusk and Poland brought to the European debate.

It is in times of difficulties that we have to see where the real, committed Europeans are. It is easy to be Pro-European when everything goes well. The interesting thing is to be Pro-European when the things are not going well. As I said we need Europeans for all kinds of weather not only for the good weather.

And the message that Prime Minister Tusk brought into the debate at the beginning of today, was a message of trust, of commitment also to the Community method and to the European institutions. And that's what I would like to highlight as well, the good cooperation between Council, Parliament and Commission.

And since this is probably my last time in a press conference in this capacity of President Buzek I would like also to use the opportunity to thank you, dear friend, for the great commitment you have shown and all the relationship. You were not there, but in the last European Council, President Buzek was praised by us because of the very constructive approach also that he brought to this relationship, defending of course, the institution that he is President of – the European Parliament, but doing that with a truly community spirit. I am sure that you will continue to go on giving a very important contribution to the European integration.

And I also think that Prime Minister Tusk and Poland now set a very high standard for the future Presidencies and I am sure that the Danish Presidency of the Council will give an important contribution to our Union, because of the very constructive positions that the Prime Minister of Denmark took in this debate. And I hope that this Polish enthusiasm for Europe and at the same time pragmatic approach to soften problems (because we need both in Europe) can be contagious.

We need to have a real dream and passion for Europe, but at the same time we need to be pragmatic in finding some concrete solutions. And this was, I think the key for the success of Poland and that is why I want to once again thank you, Prime Minister, dear friend, for all your commitment and your work and also to the team of the Polish Presidency.

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