José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso at the post-European Council press conference
Joint press conference/Brussels
19 October 2012
Last night, in fact early this morning, we made significant progress on the way to a genuine economic and monetary union. We have restated our commitment to put an end to this dangerous link between bank and sovereign debt.
It was progress to have this time table regarding the banking union, more concretely the single supervisory mechanism because we have now a commitment to seek agreement on the legislative proposals for the single supervisory mechanism by 1 January 2013.
And this will pave the way for the direct recapitalisation of banks.
We also have a clearer long-term vision for the economic and monetary union. There was a very dense and interesting discussion among heads of state and government on this project. As I said before the Commission will put more flesh on the bones of these ideas in our blueprint on economic and monetary union in the coming weeks. This will feed into the work that President Van Rompuy, in close cooperation with myself and the presidents of the European Central Bank and Eurogroup, are doing, allowing us to set out a clear roadmap at the December European Council.
But let me stress this: we should also keep the focus on our immediate priority, which is to revive growth and create jobs.
The reality is that the crisis is still with us: unemployment remains worryingly high, with the potential to undermine even further social cohesion. I am painfully aware of the difficult situation in which many European citizens find themselves, and this is precisely the reason why we have asked heads of state and government today to immediately implement the Compact for Growth and Jobs.
This is also a question of fairness. We are asking our citizens to make major sacrifices. We need to provide them with hope, with a realistic prospect that growth will return and that the most vulnerable in society will not suffer.
We have a growth compact on paper. Now we need to have it on the ground, we need to have it in reality. The reality is that this Growth Compact, an important investment package worth €120 billion, has not yet been fully implemented.
Some progress was there, yes, but frankly, not enough. Let me give some examples. Tax on savings, energy taxation, public procurement reform, a boost for venture capital: these are areas where we need to speed up the legislative process to complete the single market.
The financial sector must also make a fair contribution to the recovery. Next week the Commission will take the first step towards launching enhanced cooperation on a financial transactions tax. We will present an action plan on tax fraud and tax evasion before the end of the year.
But we must also look to the outside world for growth.
Today we had also a very important discussion on the relationship, the strategic relationship with China. A mutually beneficial relation with China is central for European Union and China's prosperity, but also to the rest of the world. The European Union is already China's biggest trading partner and China is our second and fastest-growing partner. But there is scope to do more, much more indeed, on services and investment. Our trade on services is ten times less than our trade on goods. Our investments in China add up to less than 2% of our total FDI stocks abroad. This is why we are working on an investment agreement with China. We will continue our comprehensive work on how best to engage with China in a different number of areas in this important moment of leadership change in that country.
Let me also say that in a couple of weeks myself and President Van Rompuy will be taking these messages also to Asia. The reality is that we are going to participate in the ASEM summit in Laos, I will also visit a number of countries in South-East Asia, where trade will feature high on the agenda in our discussions. We believe it is very important to give even more impetus to the European Union – Asian relationship. In fact, we are also trying to promote the free trade agenda, we are making progress with many of our partners and I am happy that today's conclusions of the European Council confirmed this agenda.
So, ladies and gentlemen, we've covered a lot of ground in the last 24 hours. Step by step we are creating a banking and fiscal union.
Now at next month's special European Council we need to provide the union with a budget for growth and jobs. This is critically important. I cannot promise we will have more sleep at the next European Council, I think it is going to be a long European Council, but I hope heads of state and government will be able to find consensus as they have at this summit.
I thank you.