Joint Press Conference with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy at the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is my first G20 meeting as President of the European Commission. And it makes me particularly proud, as I was the one who fought to ensure the EU – and the Commission – got a seat at the table.
Allow me to touch briefly on three of the main topics we will be addressing over the next two days:
We come here today against the backdrop of what we can only describe as a modest economic recovery. Global GDP growth is lower than expected. Growth in Europe is lower than we hoped for. We have to do more to kick-start and sustain economic recovery.
We each need to do our part and it is good that in July the G20 members were able to put forward growth strategies. The EU will strongly support the Brisbane Action Plan, put forth by Australia, and we will push for agreement on a Global Infrastructure Hub to help implement the Global Investment Initiative, agreed in Cairns, by matching investors with projects. After all, what good is raising investment if the money is not being channeled to the priority projects.
The G20 Investment Initiative and the EU Investment Plan run very much in the same vein. And I will take the opportunity at the summit to tell the other leaders about the new EUR 300 billion investment package the European Commission intends to present before Christmas. Accelerating investment is the linchpin of economic recovery, in Europe and beyond.
Let me say how pleased I am that India and the U.S. have managed to reach an agreement on how to move forward, paving the way to the implementation of the Bali decisions. The fruits of their discussions now need to be taken back to the WTO so that we can all get back on track and keep our commitments on trade.
I am also pleased to announce that we, along with the representatives of the EU Member States present here will meet with U.S. President Obama to advance on our discussions on a transatlantic trade and investment partnership. This is an opportunity for us to make clear that 1) we will not sacrifice Europe’s food safety, environmental or health standards or our cultural diversity on the altar of free trade and 2) we are committed to injecting greater transparency into our negotiations. We want a high standard agreement that is mutually beneficial. And that is what we will push for.
3/ Tax Evasion
It may not have escaped you that the topic of fighting tax evasion has been high on the media’s agenda of late.
I said it throughout my election campaign, during my speeches before the European Parliament and in my Political Guidelines for the next European Commission and I say it again now: The European Union and all its Member States should step up their efforts to combat tax evasion and tax fraud, so that all contribute their fair share. That is why earlier this week I tasked Pierre Moscovici with preparing a directive on the automatic exchange of information on tax rulings. And I want all 28 Member States to sign on. All 28. That is what I stand for as Commission President.
Herman and myself have come here today to represent the EU and to lend our strong support to the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Action Plan. We are pushing to get this work finalised in the shortest timeframe possible and we have been pushing to inlcude a commitment, in the Brisbane conclusions, on the automatic exchanging of tax information, particularly on tax rulings. We need to step up our fight against tax evasion.