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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Mr Miloš Zeman, President of the Czech Republic
3 April 2013
It is a great pleasure and an honour to be hosted here, in the Prague Castle. Thank you, President Zeman, for your invitation. I greatly appreciate this opportunity to attend the ceremony of raising the European flag together with the Czech Republic flag in the presidential castle.
The beauty and majesty of this place is breath-taking. Its past inspires esteem and respect and encourages reflection. Indeed, the Hrad has for centuries been witness to the Czech and European history, to the proudest moment and more difficult times. Looking back sometimes helps us to get a clearer idea of the future and understand the great historic meaning of being together today in this European Union.
This is true, when the European Union is facing a very challenging transition period. The on-going reform of the European Union economy and the situation in the Czech Republic were two issues I have discussed yesterday and today with President Zeman. And indeed both issues are linked: the Czech President's signature of the amendment which clarifies the legal base of the European Stability Mechanism treaty is an example of this co-operation and solidarity we do need in Europe.
The European Stability Mechanism, the euro zone's rescue fund, is in the interest of all the European Union, because this stability is important for all of us in the European Union as a way of getting back the confidence that is critically important for investment. Without confidence there is no investment. Without investment there is no growth and jobs. With President Zeman we discussed some of the ways to support investment at European level including the Connecting Europe Facility - everything we can do to have better linkages at European level in transport, in energy, so that we really give support to the future investment in Europe.
I shared with President Zeman my deep conviction that the European Union is now better equipped to take charge of its future. No one can say that institutional integration has not moved forward these past few years! In fact, we have been reacting to the crisis and we have now more instruments to deal with future crisis. I believe that the European Union has come through the worst of the crisis but the situation is still fragile. Last week, we’ve put an end to the uncertainty that has affected Cyprus, but now the programme has to be properly implemented to put the Cypriot economy on a sustainable footing. So we need also to complete the reform of the governance in the euro area so that, for the future, crisis like this one can be avoided and prevented.
Regarding the two other proposals made by President Zeman, namely a third mandate for myself as Commission President and moving the headquarters of the European Union to Prague: I am afraid, this is indeed much more difficult and I am giving you a diplomatic reply, Mister President. But if we cannot move the European Commission headquarters to the Czech capital, such a beautiful and historic city as Prague, I am proud to say that, in fact, we have established here in Prague the European Galileo Satellite Navigation Agency that I just visited this morning. And I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Czech authorities for the very strong support they have given to this very important agency. It is important to underscore its strategic role. In times of economic hardship, this project shows that the European Union has a strategy for the future, that we are looking at technology, industry, space and also at very concrete projects that can have practical economic outcomes and benefit the lives of our citizens. Gallileo and EGNOS will make the European Union independent in a key technology and create downstream market opportunities.
Dear President Zeman,
Once again, thank you very much for this invitation and for giving me the opportunity to share with you these two very important and symbolic moments of raising the European flag together with the Czech Republic flag in the Prague Castle and also witnessing the signature of the amending treaty by you. I think these are very powerful symbols of the attachment of the Czech Republic to our common project. I hope to have the honour to host you in Brussels.
Thank you all, ladies and gentlemen, for your attention.