José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso prior to his meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti
Press Point /Rome
I am very pleased to meet – once again – Prime Minister Monti, and it is a real pleasure to meet here in the Eternal City of Rome after our various recent meetings in Brussels, Milano or on the international stage.
Let me express my deep personal appreciation for Prime Minister Monti and his government who are driving forward an impressive reform and consolidation agenda for more growth and jobs.
And let me also praise, once again, the Italian people for their determination to act. You have taken your fate into your hands with determination. You are turning towards a future in which your businesses can thrive and where your young people will get new hope and perspective. The direction is right, but the way is long.
As painful as many of these efforts may be, I am absolutely sure that they will bear fruit and be worthwhile. As confidence is returning to Italy, the mountain of debt will shrink, access to finance will improve, competitiveness can increase and growth and jobs will follow.
But let me be clear: patience and endurance are needed to succeed. Reform and consolidation efforts must be pursued and implemented beyond short-term political considerations and by rejecting political illusionists who promise quick fixes and easier alternatives. The road will remain bumpy for a while still, and what looks like a nice "tangenziale" [bypass road] would very soon become a dead-end street.
I have no doubt that Italians have understood this and that Italy will continue its path with determination. This crisis can be overcome – in Italy, in other Member States and in the European Union as a whole. But we will prevail only if we work and act together, not against each other, for common and ambitious solutions.
In our meeting today, I am particularly interested to hear more from the Prime Minister on the state of play of Italy's reforms and the way ahead. We will also discuss our joint efforts at European level to stabilise the situation and get the economy growing again. And last but not least we will also exchange views on the perspective of a more integrated union we both believe Europe - and the world! - need.
[And if I can switch now a little bit to English because I hope that you have understood what I said.] I just want to highlight that we are now working on the implementation of what was agreed in the last European Council. As you know a document prepared by the President of the European Council, by myself, the President of the European Central Bank and the President of the Euro group was endorsed and now we are examining how best to move along this path. And we are preparing the next steps with the vision for the future of the EU, namely the Euro area, but also with proper sequencing of the different steps.
Of course the logic of integration cannot be only economic. Banking union requires a single European supervisor for the Euro area. Further economic union, too, requires supervision of the member states' economic policies, joint supervision. It is therefore logical but also right and just that there is further political or institutional integration as well.
This integration is needed also to ensure democratic oversight of the process and to reassure the European citizens that they are part of the process. With more integration comes more democracy, more accountability and we should not be afraid of the words: we need to consolidate a truly political union in Europe. So deepening economic integration and especially this political union requires a long term vision. But at the same time we have this horizon we should now take the immediate measures, and among them are the steps for banking union in the Euro area.
And we are going to present on the 12th this month our proposal for a single supervisor on the Euro area; this is essential part of the so called banking union: the integrated financial framework for the Euro area. The link between sovereign debt and bank debt has to be broken once and for all. We must end this vicious circle when rescuing banks weakens the governments' budgets while increasing risk-averse banks stop lending to businesses and that can undermine the economy further.
A single rule book for financial services being put in place for the single market and with our proposal for the 12th September we will build this single banking supervisory mechanism around the ECB that will create the conditions for this banking union to be consolidated. The single banking supervisory mechanism does not require a Treaty change and should be in place by January 2013. So this is our way forward in terms of stability: completing the institutional framework in the Euro area, at the same time the governments are making the necessary structural reforms to ensure this kind of stability.
But as we have said we need stability and growth. Growth is also part of the solution for the complex problems we have today in Europe. And that is why we believe that some targeted investment is necessary to restore possibilities of growth in Europe. That is why we are grateful for the support the Italian government is giving to ambitious Multi-annual Framework, Budget for the next seven years because we believe that we have to combine the effort at national level with the proper efforts at European level.
To conclude on more personal basis let me thank you my dear friend Mario for your warm welcome, and to thank you also and congratulate you for what you have been doing for Italy, and also for the very important contribution you have been giving to the Euro area and to the European Union as a whole.