José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Closing statement by President Barroso at the European Parliament Plenary Debate on the conclusions of the European Council meeting of 28 – 29 June
Plenary session of the European Parliament/Strasbourg
For the questions put to the Commission let me just clarify some of the points. First of all I think the assessment we have made of this European Council was a balanced one. It represented real progress but a lot still has to be done. And we should be under no illusions that the crisis is far from over and that we need to continue our work. But in fact this European Council addressed at the same time short term measures and a vision for the future, and it tried to combine the need of stability with growth.
It is false to say that the conclusions are only one way. In fact there was a strong emphasis also on the need for reform for competitiveness. At the same time there was recognition of the need of solidarity. So I think it is in this context we should analyse the results of this European Council.
Regarding growth, as the Commission has been stating, we need to combine structural reforms at national level and at European level with investment. And so it is true that the package for investment was approved, it was the maximum what the Member States could agree at this stage.
Regarding the Structural Funds reallocation let me clarify that already €20 billion euros have been reprogrammed and a further €55 billion euros will be devoted to growth enhancing measures in the current financial period.
I would like also, responding to some of the questions, to say that it is now critically important that all the governments stick to the agreements after they have been made, and that they are fully implemented and swiftly implemented. We will insist very much on this: the need of respecting agreements and on implementing them. And I would like to reassure this Parliament, telling you about the determination of the Commission to come up very soon with proposals. But by the way let me tell you, let me remind you that a number of very concrete proposals are already on the table including on key elements on the banking union, for example deposit guarantees and resolution mechanisms. We hope now that with the stronger consensus we saw in the European Council we can even go further and reinforce those proposals.
Regarding this issue of the Commission proposals, let's be clear – I have to disappoint some of you. The simple fact that the Commission makes proposals does not in itself lead to quick agreements, maybe because there are too many political forces that say one thing in Strasbourg and another thing in the capitals of our Member States. So, when we are concerned, as some of you expressed today, the concern that governments go to Brussels and say one thing there and a different thing when they come back to their capitals, it is also very important that political parties don't say one thing in Strasbourg and a different thing in their capitals.
One important and interesting point was made by the British conservatives today and it was in fact expressing some kind of a satisfaction with the situation in the Euro area. Let me tell you that it is puzzling that you seem to delight in the difficulties of the Euro area. This is in stark contrast with the position taken by your leader, Prime Minister Cameron. So, a good effort would be, in terms of accountability to your public, to say the same thing here that you say in London. The reality is that now there is a consensus, including in the Member States that are outside the Euro area, on the need to strengthen the Euro area. It will be a complete mistake to try to divide now the Euro area from the rest of the European Union. I am also by the way very puzzled with the ease with which some of you are recommending some Member States to leave the euro. This once again is in complete contrast with the positions taken by the Prime Minister of Britain, that for instance in the G8 Summit in Camp David was saying explicitly that it is in his national interest that Greece stays in the Euro area. So, it is very important that we agree on a common approach for the European Union, including countries in the Euro area and outside of the Euro area. And when some of you are suggesting that the problems of the economic situation in Europe now are the result of the Euro area and that for instance you disapprove of the big bail out programmes in the banking sector in the Euro area, let me just put the facts straight.
By far, the country that has been spending money with the banking sector is Britain – more than any country in the European Union. Let me just give you the figures. The United Kingdom, in terms of recapitalisation measures since 2008 has already been committing 82.9 billion euros, equivalent to almost 4.9% of GDP. Just in asset relief interventions – 40.41 billion euros, equivalent to 2.38% of GDP and in guarantees Britain has committed 158 billion euros, more than 9% of British GDP. So, the country in all the European Union that has been committing more tax payers' money to save the financial sector has been by far Britain. So, this is not a Euro area problem. This is a problem of the European Union as a whole.
Then I come to my final point – we either solve this together and we win together or we will be all defeated together. I did not like at all the atmosphere following the last European Council, when I saw some claiming victory over the others. This is not the way to do things in Europe. We win together or we will be defeated together; what we need is a strong European team. It is true that there are in Europe different financial cultures, different perceptions, and different sensitivities. It is true, but let's be honest – sometimes it is not between the North and the South. Sometimes you find those differences in the very same country. But when I am worried is when I see some people speaking about the North and the South, making some kinds of easy generalisations because those who know European history know how negative was the role of prejudice and the complex of superiority of one part of Europe over the other. All the countries of Europe and some are here as countries for many many centuries, we had the greatest moments of glory and very dark moments in our history and we should be humble when we speak about history and we should not forget that the European project was made precisely to avoid these divisions of the past and the demons that existed in European history. That is why I don't like when I see Heads of Governments getting out of a European Council and saying I won against the others. This is exactly the wrong message. This is exactly the way to defeat and the message I think we together, the European institutions, the Commission and the European Parliament, have to send is we are in this together and together we will be able to overcome this crisis.
I thank you for your attention.