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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following the Tripartite Social Summit
Joint press conference/Brussels
18 October 2012
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
Let me start by saying that I believe we had today a very good, open and dense exchange between the social partners and also the representatives of the European institutions. I think it is critically important at this moment to have this kind of serious, open exchanges.
But let me also address a message to those in Europe that are hit hardest by the current crisis. We are perfectly aware of the very difficult situation in which many of our fellow citizens face themselves. And I want to say to all those who are experiencing hardship from the current crisis that the European Commission is making every effort, together with our Member States and social partners, to move Europe back on the path to growth and jobs. We are working to provide them with hope and perspective.
The Europe that has been awarded – and deserved - the Nobel Peace Prize must tackle the social consequences of this crisis with ambition and determination.
And today, at our Tripartite Social Summit, we have had a very important dialogue on the way ahead, and we can say that we all agree on the need to come back to sustainable growth and jobs, to more competitiveness but also more social cohesion in Europe.
Once again, the Tripartite Social Summit has shown its worth. It is key to design common solutions to our common challenges that should be inclusive, fair and equitable.
Fairness, equity and solidarity are guiding principles of our work. At the same time we have to be clear that there is no easy way out of this crisis. We need the right mix of differentiated fiscal consolidation, structural reforms for more growth and competitiveness, and targeted investment. And of course we need a comprehensive solution for the financial instability in the Euro zone, because without this solution we will not have the confidence that is so critically important for investment and for growth.
Clearly, this will require increased efforts from Member States to take decisive and immediate action. Just yesterday I sent out my report to the 27 Heads of State and Government explaining where we stand in terms of implementing the Compact for Growth and Jobs. This report precisely. This is a report of the implementation of the measures that were agreed it at the European Council in June to promote growth and jobs at European level. And I want to thank president Van Rompuy for putting at the centre of this European Council precisely not only new measures, but to see in which way we are or we are not implementing the measures agreed before. Implementation is key and I believe an additional sense of urgency is necessary when it comes to growth.
Very frankly I am not happy with the progress made so far. That's why I call on the European Council to accelerate the adoption and implementation of many important growth-enhancing measures included in the Growth and Jobs Compact. It is true that we have been making more efforts in terms of fiscal consolidation than on the measures for growth that were already agreed at the European Council level. We need to balance the important efforts made in terms of sound public finances with the right measures to have growth enhancing policies.
We also need to move ahead with our structural reform agenda – the country-specific recommendations have to be implemented at national level. In a few weeks' time already, the Commission will launch the next European Semester for economic policy coordination, outlining the reform priorities for 2013 in our Annual Growth Survey and we are associating the social partners for that exercise.
Finally, targeted investment at European level needs to be made in areas with a high potential for growth and jobs. This is precisely also the main purpose of the future European budget between 2014-2020. Unfortunately we see little willingness on some of our governments to ensure appropriate funding for key instruments to help to off-set the negative social impact of the crisis. And I want to make this clear – I believe that proper funding for the European Social Fund, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund or aid for deprived persons (for which we will present a new programme next week) is very important. There are some of our citizens in Europe that are in a very difficult and emergency situation.
To conclude: today and tomorrow, EU leaders will once again have the important task to show that they are serious about their commitments and about the implementation of those commitments.
I sincerely hope that the European Council will give a strong political impetus in this regard and I believe today's meeting with the social partners was for us, for me it was certainly, a way of bringing this sense of urgency to all the Heads of State or Government. The message that we are receiving from trade unions, but also from businesses, namely SMEs, is the need to work more with a better focus on the way to promote sustainable growth and jobs at European level.