José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Mr Enda Kenny, Irish Taoiseach, and the Irish government
3 October 2012
It is indeed a pleasure for me to welcome my good friend, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and several members of the Irish government to the Commission, in fact it was a delegation I think of eleven members of the Irish government.
We had a series of meetings ahead of Ireland's seventh Presidency of the Council of Ministers, where we have agreed that our top priority must be growth.
We have a growth strategy – our Europe 2020 strategy – which sets out practical ways we can breathe new life into our economies. At national level, Member States must continue to reform their economies to make them more competitive, while preserving essential investments in research, education and also protecting the most vulnerable.
At the European level, we are breaking down the barriers that stifle growth in the Single Market. Just today, we adopted a second package of 12 proposals, called the Single Market Act II, to do just that.
Our strategy also relies on investing in growth, for which we need a budget that is fit for that purpose. We have reached a critical stage in the negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework. Neither the Taoiseach nor I want this to fall to the Irish Presidency to finalise. I am grateful for the very clear support Ireland has given to the Commission's proposal. The Taoiseach fully understands the value that the EU budget brings to Irish citizens and businesses. In the coming months it will be essential to defend the growth-friendly aspects of that budget.
Growth is essential to ensure our young people have a future. It is unacceptable that the level of youth unemployment in some of our member states is over 50%, which is why before the end of the year, the Commission will establish a youth guarantee scheme and a framework for vocational training that I know the Taoiseach also considers a top priority.
We had an exchange of views on the Commission's proposals for a banking union, in particular the single supervisory mechanism. We are both determined to see the single supervisor in place as soon as possible, not least because it is an essential condition for the ESM to directly recapitalize banks. I will make clear at the next European Council in October that we must stick to the commitments we made in June European Council. It is a question of credibility for the EU and for all the member states that are our Union.
I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the steadfast determination shown by the government and the people of Ireland to complete the EU/IMF programme in reducing its budget deficit and setting its banking sector to rights. While there is still much to be done and we know real sacrifices are being made Ireland's return to the long-term bond markets this summer proves that the hard work is starting to pay off. You are doing what is necessary to build better, more sustainable future for Ireland.
Taoiseach, my dear Enda, the Irish Presidency comes at a symbolic moment for you, as it marks the 40th anniversary of Ireland's accession to the EU. I know that you will use the Presidency as an opportunity to showcase Ireland's commitment to Europe, as you have outlined to me today.
You know how much we are committed in the European Commission to debate on Europe, to democratic debates to reinforce democracy and accountability at all levels in the EU. We can only build a stronger EU if we engage with people, with our citizens and we can only be successful in that regard if we achieve concrete results step by step. I know that this is the Irish way: have a vision but at the same time go step by step in a pragmatic manner. That is why it is important, the success during your presidency but even before your presidency now, the very important issues we have on the agenda from the MFF to the Single Supervisor in the Euro area, to the of course respect of the commitments made at June European Council.
I look forward to working with you, to help make this the best Irish Presidency ever.
I thank you.