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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso ahead of the G8 Summit
Joint EU press conference with European Council President Van Rompuy Council
Camp David, 18 May 2012
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be here at Camp David for the G8 summit representing the European Union together with President Van Rompuy.
The choice of the venue by President Obama will allow us to have candid and informal exchanges on the most pressing challenges that the world is facing.
The last time I was here in Camp David, four-and-a-half years ago, in October 2008, I met with then the President of the United States, George W. Bush, and with then the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. We discussed how to organise the global response to the financial crisis after the Lehman Brothers collapsed, and following that discussion we had the creating of the G20 leaders' process. Still today, the wounds caused by that financial crisis, which started in the U.S., are not yet healed. How we shape and coordinate our response globally will therefore also be at the centre of the discussions here in Camp David today and tomorrow.
The European Union is coming to this G8 with five clear messages:
Firstly, we need to take action for growth, while staying the course in terms of putting our public finances in order. Stability and growth go together. They are two sides of the same coin. Sound public finances, structural reforms and targeted investment are the key ingredients of our European response to the crisis. This will help to enhance competitiveness and get people back to work. This is the only road to growth that is sustainable, and what we want precisely is sustainable growth, not the kind of growth we had in the past fuelled up by excessive debt or by irresponsible behaviour in the financial sector that lead to unsustainable growth. I am confident that our G8 partners will recognise the merits of this approach and the progress made despite new and recent challenges.
Just next week we will meet in Brussels at the European Council all the Heads of State and Government of the EU together with President Van Rompuy and to discuss a European growth initiative, which can accelerate our action for sustainable growth.
I am particularly happy that today in Europe there is growing awareness of the need to combine fiscal consolidation and structural reform with investment. And now I believe there is a growing awareness of the need to support some proposals made some time ago by the European Commission in terms of increasing the lending capacity of the European Investment Bank, in terms of adopting project bonds to mobilise funding including funding from the private sector for big Trans-European projects, and also using the European budget as a leverage for growth because the European budget is a budget for investment and growth.
So it is in fact important to understand that Europe is working on these issues - stability and growth. The question is how can we achieve growth. And in Europe it is obvious that it requires to pursue a serious path of fiscal consolidation, at the same time promote structural reform at the European level, for instance completing the single market, and at the national level, most of our Member States have taken very courageous decisions, and also having targeted investment because some investment is also necessary. Apart from other issues these are the most urgent.
And in this context let me say a word on Greece: I would like to reaffirm very clearly that we want Greece to stay in the Euro area. Greece is part of European family and part of the Euro project. And the European Union I am sure will do all it takes to ensure it. We will honour our commitments towards Greece and we expect the Greek authorities to fulfil the jointly agreed conditions for financial assistance. It is extremely important that both Greece and all the other members of the Euro area respect their commitments. This is a question of credibility and credibility is essential for confidence.
The second point I expect the G8 to discuss is to give a clear signal for strengthening world trade and the multilateral system. Let's not forget: Opening markets and fighting protectionism is a good way to boost growth and jobs without burdening the taxpayers. We must match words on growth with concrete action on trade.
Thirdly, the G8 needs to show unwavering solidarity with the world's poorest. I am particularly pleased that President Obama has put a high priority on food security by launching the "New Alliance". 1 billion people, suffering from hunger, are expecting our continued action. I firmly believe that the G8 has to step up its fight for food security, including through stronger and responsible private investment in agriculture. The EU has taken bold initiatives and our commitment to food security is constant and proactive, I will not repeat the words just pronounced by President Van Rompuy.
Fourthly, this G8 summit should continue to demonstrate leadership to move towards low carbon and energy efficient economies. We should build on the Durban platform and engage actively in the international negotiating process to pave the way for the post-2020 international agreement which needs to be completed by 2015. Climate action is not a luxury in crisis times, it is a must: We should seize the opportunities to generate green growth. It is once again not only because we have the responsibility towards this planet, it is not only because of our environmental concerns: it is because it represents another way to contributing to growth and we all agree that growth should be in a central place in this Summit. For instance the great potential there is in terms of energy efficiency: how many jobs can be created if we adopt in Europe the energy efficiency directive and if we invest in jobs for instance linked to renovation of buildings, new forms of transport and energy? It is indeed an agenda for growth – green growth.
Finally, the transitions in the EU's Southern Neighbourhood, following the Arab Spring, require also the continued attention of the G8. This summit will be a good occasion to take stock of the progress made under the Deauville Partnership, launched by the G8 one year ago, and to reaffirm our support to the transition countries. The EU's "more-for-more" approach provides important incentives for reform. Jointly, with our G8 partners, we will continue providing citizens in the transition countries with hope and perspective.
To conclude, the European Union comes to Camp David with conviction and determination. The Union is a key player on all issues that we are discussing at this G8. The crisis has made us more aware than ever of our interdependence – interdependence of course in the EU but also interdependence with the rest of the world. Acting together I believe we can rise to the task, and I hope that the message tomorrow of the G8 will be a strong message in terms of this willingness to act together and to face together problems that only together can be solved.
I thank you for your attention!