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European Commission

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Speech by President Barroso at the key debate on the programme of activities of the Cyprus presidency of the Council

Plenary session of the European Parliament/Strasbourg

4 July 2012

President of the European Parliament,

President of the Republic of Cyprus,

Honourable Members,

Let me start by expressing to President Christofias and the Cypriot government my and the Commission's full support for this Council Presidency. We will work with you in the spirit of full loyalty and we wish you every possible success. This will be in the interest of your country, and in the interest of the EU as a whole.

Holding the presidency of the Council is always a challenge, for bigger and smaller countries, for older and less old member states. And it is only natural that this challenge is redoubled when it is for the first time, and taking place in the current economic context.

This being said, I have a lot of confidence in the readiness of Cyprus to take on this great responsibility. Not only was I reassured by President Christofias' presentation today and his statement regarding his commitment to the European project and the community method. I can also tell you that the Cypriot authorities started preparations almost three years ago. In the intervening period, the Cypriot authorities and the Commission at political and technical levels have enjoyed a close, fruitful co-operation. Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow the College of Commissioners will meet the Presidency team in Nicosia where I will have the opportunity to express my appreciation for their very competent work of preparation.

Immediately after this moment of inauguration we need to continue our work. I very much appreciate that the Cypriot Presidency correctly grasps the right challenges to tackle and priorities to work on.

The Commission shares the objectives of the Presidency aimed at a stronger, more competitive Europe, based on sustainable growth, solidarity and social inclusion, a Europe which is a major international partner, on the global stage as well as in its neighbourhood.

These objectives call for actions, actions which are enshrined in the logic of the three part approach which the Commission has championed since long and that we have to work on for the European Union as a whole: Sound public finance, deep structural reform and targeted investment.

Focusing on these areas and maximising their impact will go a long way towards a successful Cyprus Presidency of the Council and for a successful presidency it will be very important to focus on the key legislative proposals where tangible results can be achieved by end 2012.

First and foremost we have the Multi-annual financial framework, one of our primary instruments for value adding investments at European level and for growth and jobs in Europe.

President Christofias, President Schulz, Honourable Members,

Let us do our utmost to reach agreement on the MFF by the end of this year. I know that it is extremely challenging but it is possible. This would send a clear signal that when it comes to growth we are committed to action not limited to rhetoric. Reaching a deal by the end of the year - not any deal, I mean a good or even why not a very good deal - would mean a great service for the EU as a whole. And it would mean a success for the Cyprus Presidency.

The European Commission will in the coming days present updated financial figures for our MFF proposal which will include the impact of the accession of Croatia in 2013 and will take account of latest national and regional statistical data. Whilst these changes will be extremely marginal in overall amounts they need to be done for the sake of accuracy and transparency equal treatment. On this basis, the Presidency will then be able to prepare serious discussions also on figures as from the autumn.

I can only reiterate what I said before. The figures which we have proposed last year remain fully valid. They are balanced, appropriate and realistic. They deploy a clear sense of realism under current circumstances, whilst showing the right level of ambition. I therefore urge both the Parliament and member states to recognise that what we have proposed already provides a very good basis of compromise.

Of course, the negotiations on the Multi-annual financial framework are a package. In parallel to the overall framework negotiations must be brought to an end on the sectoral proposals on the main European Common Policies. These policies lie at the heart of our efforts to support growth and employment. For this reason we need in parallel to make substantial progress on the next generation of Structural Funds, on the reform of theCAP, the Common Fisheries Policy, Horizon 2020 for research and innovation, the Connecting Europe Facility and the relevant Trans-European Networks. Nor must we neglect our external financial instruments as an important element in our external policy.

With the overall MFF and the almost seventy sectoral programmes we have a formidable list of work to accomplish. It will require a great effort on the part of the Council Presidency, an effort which we in the Commission will support to the full.

President, Honourable Members,

The multi-annual financial framework is just one of our levers for growth and jobs. There are other critically important areas where we must speed our efforts. I therefore welcome that President Christofias shares my understanding that we must work closely together among all institutions including of course the European Parliament in the coming months. This is the only way to come to results, namely to results that are stable and binding and are not hostage to fortune after decisions are announced.

Continuing our work for growth also means pushing ahead in the coming months on the fast-tracked legislative proposals of the Single Market, what we have called Single Market Act 1. In addition the Commission intends putting forward proposals under what we call a new Single Market Act 2 and we hope the Cyprus Presidency will start work on these without delay. And once again, thank you for your very strong commitment regarding the need to deepen the Single Market, President Christofias.

President, Honourable Members,

As I said yesterday in front of this House, intensive work will continue to ensuring stability of the Euro area and establishing a genuine Economic and Monetary Union. The Commission will thus swiftly put forward new proposals concerning the first steps to establish what we have been terming a "banking union", namely to create a single financial supervisory mechanism in the euro area built around the ECB, based on Article 127 of the Treaty. At the same time, we will strive to preserve the overall architecture of the EU 27, soon 28, in particular the architecture of the Single Market, so as to guarantee the integrity of our Union and naturally full Treaty rights of the European Parliament.

At the same time, there is much to be done to build on the proposals the Commission has already made on deposit guarantee schemes, bank recovery and resolution, stricter rules on credit ratings agencies and on capital requirements, on markets in financial instruments and on market abuse. Thus the banking union is very much in reach. We can do it very soon if we fully stand behind and work hard for it.

There will be a further effort needed to adopt the two pack initiatives and to make headway on a Financial Transaction Tax through enhanced cooperation. Although formally both files are separate, both are essential; we can only call for greater solidarity if in parallel we are prepared to accept greater responsibility.

President, Honourable Members,

I only mentioned some of the most important areas on which we need to focus in the coming six months. Naturally I know, the program of the Presidency is much wider. But I think indeed that we should focus on what we can deliver in relatively short period. I should also mention the Schengen and the Patent packages. I hope that on both we eventually will come to find better solutions than those which are on the table of the Council today.

But I believe that for a Council Presidency to have success it needs this determination and this focus. Six months pass extremely quickly. Yesterday in a meeting with President Christofias and President Schulz I mentioned that it would be the 17th Council Presidency that I will be following closely. And I can tell you, the successful presidencies were the ones who were able to focus. Let us use this period in the most productive and effective way. The Commission will help you achieve as much as possible on this endeavour, and I am sure so will the European Parliament.

I thank you for your attention.

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