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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso at the joint press conference during the College visit to Vilnius at the start of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council
5 July 2013
I and the Commission, we are very happy to be here in Vilnius at the start of Lithuania's very first Presidency of the Council of the European Union. This is also the first Presidency in a European Union of 28 members, it is also the first Presidency of any Baltic country, so many first opportunities that I am sure we are not going to be missed.
President Grybauskaitė and I have just had a very useful meeting where we discussed how we will work together over the next six months. The Commission is in fully line with the Presidency motto of a "credible, growing and open" European Union.
Priority of course is the economy. And what we have to do is to work to get people back to work, namely young people, getting money flowing to businesses and consumers and reforming our economies to make them more competitive.
To rise to these challenges we need to work with a focus on a number of key policies:
- In fact, our overall line is growth and jobs, but we have many files that I hope will be pursued with determination in a very pragmatic results-oriented manner by the Lithuanian Presidency. We must put the Banking Union on firm foundations. This is crucial for confidence to return and to address any remaining weaknesses in the sector. We are going to put our proposal for a Single Resolution Mechanism on the table next week. It must be adopted before the end of this mandate.
- Member States need also to credibly implement the Commission's Country-Specific Recommendations, which have been endorsed at the highest level by the European Union Heads of State and Government. The Country Specific Recommendations point out priority reforms that are needed to restore growth and jobs.
- Following the agreement on the next seven-year budget of the European Union, Lithuania will be responsible now for securing an agreement on the specific legal acts to make sure we can kick-start growth-boosting projects from 1 January next year.
- The Compact for Growth and Jobs, that was agreed last June, provides also an important to-do list to sustain the recovery. It contains many measures, I welcome the fact that the Lithuanian Presidency has shown commitment to push for agreement on the Single Market matters..
We have also discussed other priorities that were already mentioned during our meeting and now by the President.
I really believe it is important to give a fresh impetus to the Eastern Partnership. The next Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November will, I am sure, be a success. I am looking forward to having fruitful discussions on a number of Association Agreements with our eastern neighbours, provided they do their part of the job, the reforms. We believe they should be offered closer economic integration and political association with the European Union.
I am also happy that Lithuania is prioritising energy policy. We must use the momentum that was gathered since the May European Council to integrate our energy infrastructure by the 2014 deadline. This is critically important for Lithuania, but I believe also for the overall Union.
And of course we have this commitment that was taken at highest level for helping to combat youth unemployment. And that is why we need now all Member States to implement the youth guarantee and coming forward swiftly with plans on how to use the European Union financing to achieve this. Because this is the future of our young people, this is the future of Europe as well.
These are the basic points I would like to highlight at this moment, but I am counting fully on this Lithuanian Presidency to make progress in our common European project and knowing President Grybauskaitė I think I can say very safely that this will be a very results-oriented Presidency and I am counting on it to be a great success, a success for Lithuania and certainly a success for the European Union.
I thank you.