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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Closing remarks of President Barroso following the second day of the European Council
Final press conference
Brussels, 21 March 2014
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
It was a very successful summit, a working summit with many inputs, very strong conclusions and also, I believe, very rich discussions.
Before the summit, we signed, this morning, the political provisions of the Association Agreement with Ukraine. We gave a clear and concrete sign of our commitment to Ukraine and the values that we share. The political partnership delivers on the democratic choice Ukraine has made. And it is our firm intention to sign the remaining parts of the agreement in due course. We will help Ukraine to reform and be the stable, sovereign, democratic, and prosperous country its people long for.
I've asked Commissioner Füle to go to Kiev next week, precisely to work with the Ukrainian authorities on some of the specific elements that we are now developing with them, some of them regarding the implementation of this Association Agreement.
Europe stands by all countries willing to engage on the path of democracy and reform. And we also demonstrated that last night, when we decided to bring forward the signature of the Association Agreements, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTAs), with Georgia and Moldova. In fact, we have decided to sign them no later than June. This is hugely important and sends a clear signal of our commitment to democracy and reform and to the European nature of those countries.
The discussions on Ukraine also reflect the importance of a stronger and truly European energy policy, a policy that strengthens our energy security and competitiveness, and lowers our reliance on imported fossil fuels.
We have discussed this in a comprehensive framework, linking energy and climate policies, exactly as we did in 2007 when we came forward with the most ambitious package in the world in terms of climate policy. So, not separating, but putting them together: an ambitious climate policy but also a truly European energy policy, including the very important aspect of energy security.
I was invited by the President of the European Council to present our policies for climate and energy, which are based on three goals: security of supply, competitiveness and sustainability. We should not see these as contradictory. It's important for our competitiveness, it is important for sustainability, for the respect of our environment, for the future of our planet, and, also, it is important in terms of security of supply.
And I have shown during this presentation that, in fact, we are on target. We will basically achieve our goals in 2020. We will reduce greenhouse gases by 2020. We will have, most likely, minus 24% (and our goal was 20%). The increased share of renewables will be 21%, so we are over-achieving the objective. In energy consumption or efficiency, we have not yet reached the target, we are around 17%.
But today, what we discussed was what we are going to do up until 2030. And I was happy that the European Council, after very comprehensive discussions, has agreed that - already for the UN climate summit in September - we will be sure that the specific European Union target for 2030 for greenhouse gas emission reductions will be fully in line with the agreed ambitious European Union objective for 2050.
And so, as Herman Van Rompuy said, it is not and it could not be today. Today was the first discussion. It is not yet an agreement on all the elements of the proposals the Commission made. But, it is clearly an endorsement of the European Commission's proposal as the basis for our policy in the future, and I feel encouraged after the good discussions we had.
I believe part of this comes because of the interests that some Member States have in security of supply. And so, I think that, once again, it is the wise, smart way to discuss these issues. It is not to have climate policy only from the green constituency, and the security of supply from some countries, but linking all the objectives.
In fact, we have already been diversifying our supplies and suppliers over the last years, for instance, with the adoption of this southern corridor. And we have been doing it not just because it is beneficial for the European economy, but also for reasons of a geopolitical nature. We have come a long way in implementing our current 2020 goals and in developing our internal energy market, which is the core instrument of energy solidarity between Member States. Also, some of these goals are very much in line with energy security because if you have more renewables, you are less dependent on imports of fossil fuels, for instance.
But we definitely need to go much further. Today, there was a clear determination to further diversify our supplies, to fully apply the rules of the internal energy market to ensure a level playing field, but also to improve interconnections. And that, I think, was one of the new facts in today's discussions. Several delegations pushed hard for more precise commitments in interconnections. For instance, as President Van Rompuy just mentioned, there will be special attention paid to the Iberian peninsula, because Spain and Portugal, while having already between themselves an integrated energy market, are still cut off from the rest of Europe. Attention will go especially, also, to the Mediterranean area.
I think from that point of view, this logic of interconnection – that the European Commission fought for when we launched this Connecting Europe Facility in the MFF (budget) - is now fully recognized. And I think there is sufficient political will to make it happen.
As the President of the European Council already mentioned, the European Commission received the task of providing a study analysing all the elements of the European Union's energy security before the June European Council – so, very soon. We have, already, a lot of studies in that area, and we are more than happy to share them with our Member States, and, if they are ready, even to go further in our common endeavour.
So, these were very successful discussions. A lot of work that shows that the European Union is able to take decisions in challenging times, not only regarding the most important issues of Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, but also on economic terms, as we did yesterday.
And, finally, keeping our external vocation: We are going to have, in some days, a very important European Union-Africa summit. I think we have to apologize in advance to the people of Brussels because I think in terms of traffic, with all these heads of state, it is not going to be easy. And I don't know if it will be better when we receive President Obama on the 26th. And also the week afterwards when we'll receive, for an historic visit, the first visit ever of the Chinese President to the European institutions. So I want to make a friendly warning regarding the traffic in Brussels, the city I have lived in for 10 years.
It will be complicated, but it shows a good thing: that the European Union keeps up its ambition. In fact, it reinforces its ambition in terms of global issues, in terms of opening up. And we are also leading the way in the field of climate with an ambitious common position.
I thank you for your attention.