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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso ahead of the G20 Summit in Saint Petersburg
Joint press conference/Saint Petersburg
5 September 2013
The European Union comes to this summit with a message of confidence.
The EU delivered on its commitments made last year, but the global recovery still remains fragile. There are positive signs in advanced economies. On the other hand, growth has lost momentum across a number of larger emerging market economies. It is therefore important that this summit sends a strong message of confidence – backed up by sound economic strategies - that the recovery will continue. A message that reassures our citizens about the G20's collective determination to tackle the persisting challenges in a cooperative manner.
Concretely, we want results in four areas:
Firstly, all of us must endure in our efforts to inject fresh dynamics in the global economy so that people have a perspective to work and businesses a perspective to invest. This would further enhance confidence at a moment where the recovery is gaining pace in the developed economies. The Saint Petersburg Action Plan should be the vehicle for this continued collective action for growth and jobs.
We in Europe are seeing a turning point. We should avoid any kind of complacency, namely because of the high level of unemployment but indeed there are positive signs of recovery. It is critically important in Europe – and also in other parts of the world – that we make all the efforts to make this recovery sustainable over time. That's why credibility and confidence are key.
Secondly, we expect this G20 to maintain the momentum on financial regulation and continue filling the blanks in financial markets. Remember: the G20 leaders' process was born out of necessity to coordinate an effective global response to the global financial crisis. Our commitments are beyond doubt: nobody and nothing in financial markets should remain unregulated. And the G20 achievements are remarkable delivering on a large reform agenda. But the G20 needs to continue implementation in order to secure a level playing field. We must address remaining issues like systemic risk and cross-border questions.
Thirdly, and probably most importantly: this summit will complete the paradigm shift in taxation. Citizens can be reassured: The days of tax fraud and tax evasion by individuals and by companies are counted. We are introducing more fairness in taxation. The G20 should finish what we have started in Europe by making the automatic exchange of information the global standard. I will push to start the automatic exchange of information among G20 members as soon as 2015. We also need to take decisive action against profit shifting and base erosion, based on the OECD's excellent work.
Finally, trade will feature high in our discussions. There is no doubt: open and free trade is the best - and cheapest! - way to stimulate our economies, support the global recovery and bring benefits also to the poorest. That's why this summit should confirm the G20's commitment against protectionism, extend the Toronto standstill clause and do more to roll back trade-restrictive measures. Almost 700 of these measures have been taken since 2008 and only very few have been rolled back. This trend is very disappointing and dangerous. It needs to be turned around. We also should give a strong signal to our negotiators in the World Trade Organisation to conclude a deal in Bali in December with trade facilitation at its core.
The European Union has a good story to tell in all these four areas. Let me just give you a few examples:
On financial regulation: Europe has come very far in regulating financial markets so that they can serve the economy and not themselves. About 30 European Union laws since 2008 are being enacted, protecting savers' deposits and making financial products safer and more transparent. We have established a single rule book for all 8.000 banks in the European Union and stepped up our capital requirements in line with G20 commitments. And now Europe is ready to lead sweeping action to bring light into an area that so far has remained in the dark: shadow-banking. Just yesterday the European Commission presented an ambitious approach for oversight and regulation of shadow-banking, including a draft European law on money market funds.
On taxation: since 2005, the European Union has been developing an automatic exchange of tax information. And we are acting against corporate tax fraud and tax evasion. We are leaving no stone unturned to detect those individuals and companies who do harm to the public purse and to the citizens. We do not accept that billions are lost when we need it most to invest in our collective future.
On trade, Europe remains at the forefront in the fight for open, free and fair trade. We have spared no efforts in the WTO to move the Doha Round further. Now we are working hard to come to an agreement in Bali in December with trade facilitation. And we are liberalising our trade relations with numerous countries and regions in the world, among them Japan, South Korea, Canada and the United States of America. And we are doing this in full consistency with the multilateral trading system.
We are also putting in place ambitious trade agreements with some countries in our neighbourhood. This should be welcomed as a positive example of the European Union's action to stimulate growth and jobs. Not only in these countries, but also in the wider region. We expect that the sovereignty of our neighbours and partners will be fully respected.
To conclude: we expect this summit to recognise and further encourage the efforts we are making in Europe. We expect it to be a further lesson for all G20 members in our process of collective learning. This requires the willingness to listen, to cooperate and to act. It is about mutual encouragement and support for moving towards recovery together. It is more important than ever that nobody in the G20 relaxes their efforts. After 5 years of existence, people should be able to see that the G20 leaders' process has proven its relevance and is delivering on its promises. This Summit should be a new decisive step towards global recovery and increased financial stability.
One final word: I know Syria is on everyone's mind, and it's also on ours! We need to forge a consensus in the international community on how to respond to the latest developments and also on how to put an end to this conflict. This abhorrent situation remains a stain on the world's conscience. The situation in Syria is indeed the biggest humanitarian tragedy of our times. This week the appalling number of 2 million Syrian refugees was reached. We all have a duty to act, and the European Union believes that efforts should be developed towards a political solution for the conflict and the European Union is indeed providing relief, more than EUR 1.3 bn so far, for the people on the ground suffering the consequences of this most dramatic situation.
I thank you for your attention!