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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso on the international agreement
Strasbourg, 18 January 2012
We are discussing this international agreement as part, and only as a specific part, of a wide-ranging and comprehensive approach for stronger discipline, increased convergence, the reinforced coordination in governance in particular in the Euro Area. If we want to ensure the future viability of our common currency and if we want to prevent in the future the kind of crisis Europe is experiencing today, this is fundamental.
We must also keep in mind that this agreement is an essential element of a larger package of action to respond to the sovereign debt crisis, including a strengthened and anticipated European Stability Mechanism, which is urgently needed for the stability and coherence of the Euro area.
The Commission has always considered that these new norms should be enshrined in the current treaties, in the Lisbon Treaty. For the reasons you all know, because of the unanimity between the Member States, this was not possible, this could not happen. The Heads of State and Government therefore took the decision to proceed with this international agreement or as some prefer to say international treaty.
The Commission left no ambiguity about the priority to see an agreement that respects a certain number of principles, namely the primacy of European Union law, the necessity of democratic accountability, the importance of the European institutions, and the need to integrate the Agreement into the European Treaties.
These principles I believe are shared by the European Parliament. The Parliament and Commission delegations to the negotiations are standing firmly together in their defence. Indeed, working in close cooperation our delegations to the negotiations are achieving important progress, namely:
First, together we are firmly opposing attempts to develop new institutional set-ups; instead we have enshrined the principle that EU institutions will act on the basis of the EU Treaties, not as simple representatives of Member States.
Second, together we are rejecting drafting that could have established parallel intergovernmental coordination of economic policy, outside the European Union framework.
Third, together we are insisting on language acknowledging the need for European Union secondary legislation to implement key elements of the package agreed at the last European Council.
And fourth, together we are proposing a strong "integration clause" into the draft, which requires that within 5 years at the maximum the necessary steps are taken to integrate the substance of the Agreement into the legal framework of the Union.
However, last week the Commission was concerned by some choices made in the latest draft, which could only lead to irritation and to division.
As a result, at the meeting of the Working Group last Thursday, the Commission tabled amendments to ensure that the text is institutionally acceptable. They largely coincide with key points made by the delegates of this House.
We are insisting:
First, on a correct clause safeguarding primacy of EU law and its full application, in particular that of EU procedures whenever the adoption of secondary law is required.
Second, that the Member States express their readiness to support a Commission proposal that would strengthen the Six Pack by introducing, for euro area Member States, a new range for Medium Term Objectives in line with the limits of the Agreement.
Third, that the text reflects an adequate openness of Euro Summits to all Member States and recognises the position of the President of this Parliament.
And last but not least, that cooperation between national parliaments and the European Parliament must operate within the European Union Treaties in accordance with Protocol N° 1, avoiding any impression that several competing assemblies at European level will emerge over time, thus weakening the European Parliament.
The Commission's delegation will continue to participate constructively but vigilantly, in this process. We remain confident that reasonable solutions can be found. The principles we are defending are the principles of democracy and accountability. They are the principles on which the European Union is founded and they reflect the right and proper role of the Institutions. They are the principles that insist on the integrity of the entire European Union and all its Member States.
The Euro area must be strengthened, yes, but not at the expense of the wider Union. The introduction of parallel structures would embed divisions that could jeopardise the Union and also jeopardise the single market and therefore the future viability of the Euro itself. As we believe in the Euro, and as we believe that the Euro should be the currency of the whole European Union, we must not erect new governance and structures that would lead to split with Member States that intend to join it in the future.
All Member States who agree with these principles should be associated with our position.
I am very grateful to this House, and in particular to the European Parliament delegation, for their support in working for this common goal.
This Agreement, if these rules are respected, can be an important tool in building a solid stability and growth agenda based on the Europe 2020 strategy and also on the Roadmap presented by the Commission.
Noting that from a legal point of view this is an intergovernmental agreement, I hope that all Member States understand that politically for its successful ratification and implementation, it needs the support of the European institutions, namely the European Commission, the ECB and, of course, this European Parliament
Thank you for your attention.