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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso at the final press conference of the Spring European Council
Brussels, 2 March 2012
I was extremely pleased with the outcome of European Council. Indeed it was a drama free Summit – this is not a bad thing. I can even confirm that the re-election of President Van Rompuy was unanimous, spontaneous; I think it took less that one minute. But there were other important decisions taken in the European Council beyond that one.
We now have a new phase in economic governance and the commitment to a growth agenda. Precisely because there is now less tension regarding some issues related to the euro it was possible to focus minds on the need for structural reform for growth, including of course a medium term structural reform, but also some short term measures, like the ones the Commission has been proposing for youth employment, for SMEs, and today, the project bonds, the growth bonds, and also the roll-out of broadband.
Regarding structural reform – there was a clear expression to have clear deadlines, firm ownership by the Heads of State and Government so they can in fact fill the implementation gap, that sometimes we understand exists between the orientations by the European Council and the decisions in the Council and also quicker delivery of key priorities
Heads of State and Government asked the President of the European Council and myself to come with more concrete reports in different European Council meetings about what is indeed the state of advancement of many of the areas – Single market and others. And I really welcome this because I think it is time to be concrete, to be more focused on delivery.
Today, we have also seen the signature of this new Fiscal Compact Treaty. I think it is a real signal that we will not return to the battle days of fiscal irresponsibility. There were very important commitments there, commitments also to put that Treaty inside the European Union framework, which of course I very much welcome. This is a treaty on stability, but as I said during the ceremony, it is a treaty that of course has to be in full respect to the European Union treaties indeed subordinated to them, and it was not the right moment in the treaty to deal with all other important issues of our economic union from the Internal market to social and economic cohesion or structural funds. That is why I now believe there are now better conditions, since this culture of financial stability is being consolidated, there are now better conditions to address also the other very important matters of solidarity, not only of course the ESM, and there were decisions to advance the ESM, but also in other areas of our European Union policy. There are now better conditions to address also the other very important matters of solidarity, not only or course with the ESM - there were decision to advance the ESM – but also in other areas of our EU policy.
So the fiscal Treaty, while reinforcing governance, is also a very important political statement on the irreversibility of the euro. All the Member States that signed the Treaty, not only the euro area members, all the others, are committing themselves to a stronger level of discipline and convergence, thus sending a very clear message on the irreversibility of the euro.
The euro is not just the currency of some countries – the euro is the currency of the European Union. That is why this Treaty was so well received by our partners. As a clear commitment to the switch of the euro, and linking precisely the euro to the main objectives of the EU.
Regarding the European Stability Mechanism there were also some decisions. Capital pay-in will be accelerated, it was confirmed that it will be set up and working in July 2012 this year. This month the effective level of its firepower will be re-assessed. I trust the necessary decisions will be taken.
Finally, on our international agenda. It was also important to set the principles and the main orientation for the G-20 in Mexico. As you know the European Commission has been working very hard with all Member States so that the EU can keep a leadership role in terms of the implementation of the global commitments for global governance, namely the framework for stability and growth. These decisions at this European Council show Europe is doing its homework. We would like others also to follow.
And let me highlight the Rio+20 Summit. Twenty years after Rio Earth Summit there is now a chance to give a new momentum to the green economy agenda. Europe has been pioneer of the sustainable development agenda. I think Europe should equally be at the forefront in setting the debate for Rio+20. Green growth is also an essential part of our growth agenda, our Europe 2020 agenda.
And as you can see from the conclusions, there are very important and ambitious orientations for the Rio+20 that I believe can be a very important moment, not only to take stock of what we are doing collectively, the global community, for the sustainable growth agenda, for protecting our planet, for green growth, but also an ambitious platform for more ambitious commitments in terms of the sustainable development goals.