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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister of Denmark
Copenhagen, 12 January 2012
Let me once again thank Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Danish government and the Danish people for their hospitality. I really feel at home here, I am not sure that we have passed the "rødgrød med fløde" test yet but I really feel at home.
We had a very fruitful and constructive kick-off meeting with the Danish Presidency here in Copenhagen. We have been both standing on the deck discussing big political issues, and in the engine room to look at how we can work together for concrete results for our citizens. After yesterday's programme, we continued our discussion today in smaller groups on specific policy issues. The Prime Minister and I just had a bilateral meeting in which we discussed the strategic priorities for the Danish Presidency.
As we are approaching the informal European Council at the end of this month, we naturally focused on how we best continue to tackle the debt crisis. The Presidency and the Commission fully agree that fiscal discipline and sound public finances are indispensable for Europe. But that is not enough! Discipline is indispensable but growth is also necessary. Structural reforms boosting competitiveness and measures enhancing growth are as important as putting our public finances in order to restore confidence: confidence or our citizens but also confidence of investors world wide. This is what the Commission has consistently advocated and insisted on in its comprehensive approach to the crisis.
Growth is within our reach, if we can break down the barriers that stop money, services and people flowing through our Union as they should. And the fact that Denmark puts the deepening of the Single Market and green growth at the heart of its presidency is crucial to ensure we will succeed.
So I am really very happy with the fact that Denmark and the Prime Minister have put the completion of the Single Market, the support of the Single Market, the proposals of the Commission - the energy efficiency directive for instance - at the top of the priorities. The same goes for a common unitary patent in Europe! Frankly we are almost there; there are now some divisions between France, Germany and Britain on things that are not so difficult. We can finalise the Community patent that we have been discussing for 30 years so it is about time to come to a solution and I know that Denmark will put its influence to find a solution.
Denmark is indeed deeply interlinked with the rest of Europe: around 65% of Danish exports go to other European Union member states. It therefore very well understands the importance of financial stability and economic growth in other parts of Europe and this is important also for Denmark. That is why the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) that is now going to be discussed during this Presidency should be discussed also as a contribution for growth. What can be the contribution of the Multiannual Financial Framework for growth and competitiveness in Europe?
I also welcome the determination of Denmark to contribute to our joint European efforts for more stability and confidence: Denmark has joined the Euro Plus Pact; the International Agreement for reinforced fiscal discipline is also benefitting from the contribution of the negotiation positions of Denmark. It has set out among its priorities to move forward important legislative work to further reinforce fiscal discipline and surveillance.
With this commitment, underpinned by its action at home, Denmark can indeed be a bridge at European level and also in some areas a role model.
I am convinced that Denmark will give that contribution. Since yesterday we were listening to the uplifting music also from Carl Nielsen, let's hope that at the end of the Danish Presidency in Europe the fog is lifting and that we can have a better perspective for our common project.