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European Commission

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso following the meeting of the European Commission with the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union

Press conference following the meeting of the Commission with the Irish Presidency/Dublin

10 January 2013

Ladies and gentlemen,

Taoiseach, Tánaiste, dia duit. I aim to speak better Irish by the end of this presidency!

I am very pleased to be here in Dublin on the occasion of Ireland's seventh Council presidency, which also marks the 40th anniversary of Ireland's accession to the European Union. Since 1973, Ireland has shown itself to be an enthusiastic and cooperative member of the EU. I look forward to continuing this good cooperation during this Irish presidency.

And indeed I share your analysis; we had a really good fruitful meeting. I can say that Ireland and the Commission are likeminded. We agree on the priorities, we agree on the need to combine ambition with realism, we are focused on results, on the delivery of results.

Indeed, I am convinced that having Ireland at the helm of the rotating presidency of the Council at this juncture will be good for Ireland and good for Europe.

This morning, the college of commissioners met with the Irish cabinet to discuss our shared priorities. After that, I also had a very productive bilateral meeting with the Taoiseach, where I stressed the need to lay the foundations for lasting growth and job creation. Growth and jobs: this is our priority.

We have now entered a new phase of the crisis, where restoring confidence is key. And I said earlier, I believe that we are today in a better situation than one year before. One year ago the question mark we were asking was about the implosion of the euro. This question is a little bit there, but we need to answer the question of growth, namely the question of employment. We know very well that we are still in a crisis, namely an economic and social crisis. And we need to put our resources together to fight that crisis and also increase confidence as a way of solving the crisis.

I believe the time for taking emergency decisions should be over. The doomsday scenario of a break-up of the euro area has not come to pass. We have shown the naysayers that we are willing to do all that is necessary to ensure the stability of the single currency.

But again we cannot be complacent. There is still very important work to do. We must complete the repair of the financial sector, pursue fiscal consolidation, enact economic reforms for competitiveness and make targeted investments. And we need to be particularly attentive to the very serious social situation that we have in several of our Member States.

I welcome the fact that Ireland has placed stability, growth and jobs at the heart of its presidency. I particularly welcome the fact that the Irish presidency is prioritising an agreement on the Commission proposal on youth guarantee schemes.

We need to avoid a lost generation by promising all those under 25 that they will have a job, a place in further education, a traineeship or an apprenticeship when they leave school or become unemployed.

We should also finalise an agreement on the single supervisory mechanism for banks before the end of January.

After that, the Commission will make further proposals for a bank resolution mechanism, to ensure that in the future, it is the banks themselves who pay for their own failures, and not the public purse.

We must reach an agreement on the multi-annual financial framework, the European Union's next seven-year budget. I'm hopeful we can do this in the next few weeks.

In the longer term, to reinforce the credibility of the single currency, we need to pursue further integration, especially in the euro area, whilst keeping the integrity of the Single Market and of the European Union as a whole. This is the only way we can find a lasting solution to the crisis in the euro area. The Commission is playing its role by designing a new architecture for the euro area. We have drawn up a blueprint that maps out the gradual steps we can take to build a financial, fiscal, economic and political union. Because, at the end, the euro's credibility depends on the soundness of the institutions behind it.

Together with the Presidency we will be pushing also for an ambitious trade agenda. Through trade we can boost growth and create millions of new jobs in the European Union. Trade is, alongside our Single Market, a powerful and cost free stimulus for our economies. The work for the launch of the FTA negotiations with the United States is in this context a priority for the Commission and we welcome the support of the Irish Presidency. I will be presenting to the February European Council our work to progress in this trade agenda.

Let me now say a few words about Ireland, which has shown an unwavering commitment to implementing the economic adjustment programme.

I know these last few years have not been at all easy for the Irish people, who have had to make big sacrifices to ensure the recovery.

But I believe the commitment to reform is paying off: economic growth was stronger than expected at the end of last year, the deficit is lower than predicted and Ireland has already made a tentative return to financial markets. The successful bond auction this week is further proof that investors look favourably on Ireland's efforts.

While important challenges remain – unemployment is at unacceptable levels and the deficit is still amongst the highest in the EU – Ireland is on track to completing the programme as planned at the end of the year. The European Commission will stand by you as we have been doing throughout the crisis. In general, as you know the Commission has been supporting every measure that will improve market confidence and increase public support for the adjustment programme and we have been at your side. Personally, at the European Council together with the Taoiseach, I was always making the case for the need for solidarity with Ireland and for the need for fairness in the European Union. This is the Commission position in favour of fairness

Taoiseach, Tánaiste, I wish you a successful presidency. You have the full support and the goodwill of the Commission as you face the challenges ahead.

Go raibh maith agat.

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