José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Mr Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to welcome Prime Minister Janez Janša to the European Commission. This visit occurs not only a day before the European Council but also two days after the 20th anniversary of Slovenia's independence. Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the Slovenes on this occasion and on their impressive European success story of the last two decades.
I also want to congratulate my good friend, Janez Janša, for his appointment as Prime Minister. I wish you every success in your mandate and I am sure we will have constructive, good cooperation as we already had in the past.
We've just had a very positive bilateral meeting in which we focused on tomorrow's European Council and the economic situation in Slovenia and in the rest of the European Union.
I welcome in particular the Prime Minister's backing for the Commission's economic strategy, the need to go for consolidation and growth. We need both in Europe and I believe tomorrow's European Council will endorse a growth initiative which brings together many important ideas the Commission has put on the table over the past eighteen months.
That includes the pilot phase for project bonds, the increase in the capital base of the EIB, and making better use of structural funds to support SMEs, innovation, and young people looking for work. These are concrete steps which can unleash investment to boost growth in Europe.
Important part of growth is precisely investment and that is why it is important to discuss the Multiannual Financial Framework. Our European budget for the next seven years will be a very important tool for investment and growth in Europe. I want to thank Prime Minister Janša for his support for an EU budget that is commensurate to our common goals of boosting growth, competitiveness and employment in Europe. I hope that the European Council as a whole will recognise the need for a budget for Europe's future, with quality spending that will be able to deliver added value in terms of investment at the European level.
At the same time, it is important to step up our efforts at national level. I want this European Council to give a strong endorsement of our Country-Specific Recommendations, which represent a blueprint for reform tailored to the individual needs of each Member State, in terms of fiscal policies, macroeconomic imbalances and labour markets.
Slovenia itself faces numerous challenges in all of these areas and I was pleased to receive the Prime Minister's assurance that they will be addressed in a determined manner.
In this context, I would like to welcome the recent agreement reached by several political forces in Slovenia which opens the path to the necessary reforms.
A sound fiscal policy that encourages growth in Slovenia will stand the test of time.
It is of key importance for Slovenia to address its fiscal deficit and to ensure the long–term sustainability of its public finances.
We also discussed the importance of truly ambitious reforms in Slovenia in general, including the need to address the issues in the banking sector. These were many of the problems we have discussed. I will not go into detail, but I think we has a very good constructive meeting as we had many in the past and I am looking forward to work hand in hand with Slovenia and its government to address not only the issues that Slovenia is facing, but also the main challenges we, as a whole, are facing in the European Union.