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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement of President Barroso following his meeting with Mr Mario Monti, Prime Minister of Italy
13 December 2012
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
I am glad that I finally had the occasion to meet personally and discuss with Prime Minister Monti, after I had to cancel my visit to Italy last Friday because of the snow here in Brussels.
And now, a few hours ahead of the European Council, we had indeed a very fruitful exchange of views on the deepening of economic and monetary union and also on the current situation in Italy.
I was glad to start the day with good news: just a few hours ago, the Council reached unanimous agreement on the Single Supervisory Mechanism – the flagship of our banking union. You remember, when we spoke about this some time ago, people said it will not fly. It is flying, it is happening. We have presented our proposal in September, and in December, unanimously, the Member States agreed on it. This shows once again that we mean business and are able to find Treaty-based solutions at 27 that are fair and equitable. This is key to restoring confidence. I am most grateful for Italy's constructive role in reaching this deal.
The Single Supervisory Mechanism is also a centre-piece of a deep and genuine economic and monetary union – for which the Commission has tabled its vision recently, our blueprint. I am happy that Prime Minister Monti agrees with us that we need to go further, indeed much further to restore confidence and anchor stability.
We both share the view, expressed in the Commission's blueprint, that we need to maintain a medium-term and long-term perspective. We need the right balance between responsibility and solidarity. We must maintain openness and high ambition, and deliver a realistic sequencing.
We expect this European Council to give a clear signal in this sense even though, I'm sure, we will not be able to solve all open issues today and tomorrow.
We need a rock-solid architecture for economic and monetary union to guarantee the irreversibility of the Euro.
During our very open and friendly conversation, Prime Minister Monti and I also touched upon the situation of Italy. The European Commission welcomes Italy's ambitious and wide ranging reform and consolidation agenda. Significant measures have been taken over the past year to bring down Italy's excessive deficit and to tackle Italy's high government debt. Considerable progress has been made to improve the country's competitiveness and growth potential. One very important result that we can already see is regarding financing costs for Italy's government bonds. In fact, the financing costs for Italy's 10-year government bonds have reached their lowest level since 2010. This is directly linked to the credibility of the government of Italy and the measures taken.
These are encouraging signs that confidence has been returning in Italy's capacity to solve its problems. Let me praise Mario Monti and his government for this! Let me express my hope and confidence that Italy will continue on this path. This is a precondition for the country's return to growth and jobs.
Implementation and determination are needed now, in particular as Italy's overall economic outlook, in spite of all the good news I just mentioned, has deteriorated.
The 2013 elections can neither constitute a break nor an excuse for slowing down the reform and consolidation agenda.
There is also no reason to think that the current difficult situation has been created by others or that it can be solved by others or that there can be some kind of magic solution. There is no substitute for continued reform and consolidation at home. This is true for all countries and Italy is no exception.
I am confident that the difficult choices and in some cases the very important sacrifices of Italian citizens will pay off. The Commission will continue to support Italy in its endeavour. This is critically important for Italy, but also for all of us, because Italy is one of the biggest economies in Europe and also one of the most important economies in the world. So we need a strong and a stable Italy in Europe. Once again, I appreciated very much the conversation that we just had. Mario, thank you once again for the very good support that you are giving also to the overall discussion we are having for the future of the Economic and Monetary Union and also for the future of our European Union.