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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso at the press conference following the presentation of the Danish EU Presidency programme

Press Conference with the Danish Prime Minister and the President of the European Parliament

Strasbourg, 18 January 2012

Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all let me start by congratulating both Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt on the positive start of the Presidency, on the very well-received programme of the Danish Presidency and also for the commitment shown by the Prime Minister in terms of our European project and also to congratulate President Schulz on his election yesterday.

The three institutions that you see represented here are united around the priority to give the citizens of Europe hope. We say discipline is important, fiscal consolidation is indispensable, but growth is also central to the solution of the current crisis. We need a real push on concrete measures for growth. It is not that we have to choose between fiscal consolidation or growth – we need both.

And we must continue to resist the fatalism of those that think Europe is condemned to recession.

So, as I have said in the Parliament we have to see where the growth can come from? Since the fiscal space in most of our member states is really limited it is important to use all the levers available to stimulate growth – structural reforms, so that we can be more competitive, so that Europe could not lose its positions globally; deepening of the internal market, investment also, because there are some possibilities for investment in priority projects; full use of unspent funds at European level and also have greater access in terms of market access to other parts of the world's fast growing economies.

As I said in the Plenary we have roughly in the EU 23 million people unemployed and we have also roughly 23 million small and medium sized enterprises. If on average each company could have one more job that could be a great contribution to solve the problem of unemployment.

So I think we should concentrate not only to the macroeconomics but also to the microeconomics. What can we do to create the best conditions for our SMEs and what they need. They need better investment and better economic climate, they need less bureaucracy but they need also access to finance. This is critically important. That is why we have made some proposals regarding financing of SMEs. Not only having some ways of helping the countries that are more vulnerable but also for instance having possibility for SMEs using the Structural Funds as guarantee for financing with the banks. I also believe that in this European Council, the informal European Council on the 30th January, we should concentrate on some of these concrete measures to stimulate growth and employment. Only this agenda of growth and employment can create the conditions for hope and Europe needs discipline but also convergence, solidarity and hope.

Thank you very much.

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