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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso at the joint press conference with Demetris Christofias, President of Cyprus, on the visit of the College of Commissioners to Nicosia
6 July 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to begin by thanking President Christofias for the very warm welcome he and his government have extended to the Commission, only three days after the President and I met at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. We are all delighted, myself and my colleagues from the Commission, to be here in Cyprus enjoying the great Cypriot hospitality! I would like also to thank you for your extremely kind words. They are additional evidence of our friendship, something that I very much value.
This morning we had very substantive and useful meetings – myself with President Christofias, and also the different Members of the Commission with their counterparts in different clusters. We went very deeply in the files that are now on the table for this Presidency. Afterwards we will have our plenary meeting where we will focus on specific issues.
Once again let me tell you that I believe the Cypriot Presidency is extremely well prepared. President Christofias and his government came to Brussels in the beginning of the year and apart from that there have been extensive contacts between the Commission and the Cypriot authorities.
To be at the helm of the Council of the European Union entails a huge responsibility, a considerable workload and increased visibility across the Union and beyond. This has always been the case and is all the more so at a time of tremendous economic challenges - global and European, at a time when our Union is entering an important new phase of integration.
I am delighted we had this opportunity to meet and "synchronise the clocks" in the very first days of the Cypriot EU Presidency, following up on the extensive cooperation so far.
Both The Presidency and the Commission are both keen to get to work. And we share the same political priorities for the short, medium and long term objectives for the Union. Status quo is not an option. And together we will make sure that we deliver reform.
First, we have to make progress quickly on a series of fundamental issues that have already been set in motion. The Presidency will have an important role in supporting in its work the stability of the Eurozone.
The centrepiece of the Presidency will be to make progress on the Commission's proposals for a banking union. Proper supervision of European banks, protection for citizens bank deposits and a framework for dealing with banks in trouble have a direct impact on our citizens. The Commission will work intensively on the preparation of proposals over the summer and I hope that agreement can be reached by the Council and Parliament in record time.
We are also determined to continue our efforts to strengthen economic and budgetary surveillance. The so-called "two pack" will be another important step to achieve this goal. I hope that Parliament and the incoming Cypriot Presidency can come to a final agreement swiftly.
We also have to move forward with the bank capital requirements package as well as with credit rating agencies.
In the absence of unanimity in the Council on a Financial Transaction Tax we have to pursue this very important project through the enhanced cooperation procedure and I expect the negotiations will start shortly under the Cypriot presidency.
I have encouraged President Christofias to ensure that the Council considers these proposals by the end of 2012 as a matter of urgency.
Another big challenge for the Cypriot Presidency will be to handle the negotiations on the EU Multi-annual Financial Framework, our budget for the next seven years. Now they enter their decisive stage. This budget is not about money for Brussels. It is about investment for growth and jobs in our regions, for our citizens.
The EU – its Member states, citizens and regions - need smart investments and the budget at European level is the most important instrument for investment in Europe. This budget can be very important in achieving the goals of growth and jobs and it is in this spirit and in this framework that that budget should be seen as part of our agenda for growth and employment. It should also be the primary instrument for implementing our Europe 2020 strategy, a strategy for sustainable and inclusive growth, agreed by all the member states. So, it is not just a budget for some Member States. It is a budget for cohesion and competitiveness. It is a budget for growth.
Further implementation of the EU 2020 Strategy involves also measures related to the Internal Market. In this respect, I hope the Cypriot Presidency will work without delay on the quick adoption of all the Single Market Act 1 legislation. I also count on its strong support in putting forward proposals under a new Single Market Act 2. I am encouraged by the comments made by the President Christofias for this very important priority which is the Single Market agenda.
The central message of the Cyprus Presidency, that of a “Better Europe”, makes me confident that the Cypriot government will rise to the challenges facing the EU as a strong and ambitious Presidency of the Council, delivering a strong and ambitious European agenda.
You have mentioned, Mr President and my dear friend, the image of your logo of your Presidency, the idea of sailing. The first condition to be an effective sailor is to know our port of destination. And we know our port of destination – a better Europe, a stronger Europe. So, let's sail in Cyprus steering Europe towards new growth, new opportunities for our citizens, having our citizens in mind, their most important concerns, so that we can achieve a successful Presidency for Cyprus and for our Union.
I thank you.