José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with the Prime Minister of Norway, Mr Jens Stoltenberg
Joint press conference with Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway and Mr Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament/Oslo
11 December 2012
It is a pleasure for me, and also for President Schulz, to be here today. Let me start by thanking the Prime Minister for his welcome and also to use this opportunity to thank Norway and all Norwegians for their warm hospitality.
These days, here in Oslo, are unforgettable and they mean a lot to us. We discussed precisely this, just now, with the Prime Minister. The ceremony was deeply moving. I think it was a great occasion, not only an occasion of emotion but an occasion to deepen the European debate. The fact that some people disagreed with the decision of the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee was a good way of launching a wide debate about Europe, about what Europe stands for and to correct also, I hope, some prejudices. I think we need this kind of debate, because our vision of Europe is a democratic vision. We are for the deepening of democracy at European level and I think, from that point of view, this occasion was a great contribution to that wide debate – what are our principles, our values, where we come from, where we are going to. And so, I want to share with you this sentiment and once again to thank the Norwegian people and Norway for their great hospitality.
This morning we discussed Europe openly, as we always do with Norway, because Norway is a very close friend. It is a member of the European family of nations. In fact, as the Prime Minister said, it is very much integrated into the European economy through the European Economic Area (EEA) and our relations are extremely important in terms of trade. For exemple, 80% of your exports go to the European Union and Norwegians are a major partner for the EU, so I really want to confirm what the Prime Minister just said. We have an interest of developing this very important relationship, also in terms of energy.
Once again, the European Union and Norway were together in the Doha conference fighting for a more ambitious deal. Well the deal was positive, but to be honest we would have preferred it to be more ambitious. There is still a lot of work to do. The decisions taken are in fact not enough to address the magnitude of the challenge the climate change represents to the world today. But once again, we work together and we are committed to continue together in order to have a global agreement that will have the capacity to face this kind of challenge.
We also discussed the economy. We have given the Prime Minister our assessment of the situation in Europe, the difficulties that still exist, namely the negative social impact that we are feeling. That is a major concern for us, in Europe. That's why I have to reiterate our strategy. What the European Commission is proposing is the need to correct the imbalances in public finances. This is indispensable. For some of our countries, it's critically vital that they pursue, with determination, their fiscal consolidation efforts. But this is not the whole story. At the same time, we are insisting on the need for structural reforms for competitiveness and investment.
Yes, we have an agenda for growth and our agenda for growth is, apart from the need to restore confidence in public finances, the insistence of the need for structural reforms and targeted investments. Because we believe that only growth can, in the medium and long term, give back the prosperity that is so important for our social market economy; an open economy but with high levels of social cohesion and social justice and also with high levels of concern for our environment and our consumers. And this is the model we want to keep in Europe, that’s the European model. Norway, not being in the European Union, is a good example of this European model: an open economy with free trade, but at the same time with a welfare state. And this is our model. We believe this model is not dead. We want to reform it. And this process of reforming we have today, of course, has at the same time some challenges in terms of completing our EMU.
And we had a very frank and open exchange about this. Together with the President of European Parliament, Martin Schulz, we shared our analysis of the situation in private with Mr Stoltenberg. He is a good friend and this country is a very close friend of the European Union.
Once again, thank you for your attention.