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[Check Against Delivery]
José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Remarks by President Barroso ahead of the G7 Summit
Brussels, 4 June 2014
Good afternoon ladies and gentleman,
Let me start my statement in this press conference by sending from Brussels my warm congratulations to the Polish people for the 25th anniversary of the first multiparty elections. Because of the G7 meeting I could not respond positively to the kind invitation of President Komorowski to attend these celebrations but I would like to associate myself and the European Commission with these very important celebrations. We see that when people are given a free choice they always prefer the side of democracy, freedom and the rule of law. The Polish elections 25 years ago accelerated the democratic transitions in all Central and Eastern European countries and paved the way for the integration of those countries in our European project.
However some recent and really dramatic events have shown that this transition is not yet completed and that many on our Eastern borders still struggle to be able to take free choices as sovereign countries. And they also show that the European project and the ideas that underpin it remain more valid than ever.
This summit in Brussels will be, indeed, a special summit, firstly because it will take place in a G7 format, secondly because we will in particular address the situation in Ukraine, and finally because the summit will for the first time take place in Brussels.
The situation in Ukraine has once again demonstrated the importance of close cooperation between like-minded partners that share the values of freedom and democracy.
That's why we expect this summit to contribute decisively to promote these values and to reinforce a rules-based international order.
Let me express by expectations about what this summit should achieve:
On Ukraine, we need to reconfirm our two track policy:
From the Commission perspective, we see four areas where our action in Ukraine should be continued and intensified:
Firstly, progress on constitutional reform, national dialogue and administrative capacity;
Secondly, we need to show Ukrainians that their relation to Europe works to their benefit. This means helping them to stabilise the economy. The delivery of the comprehensive assistance package of 11 billion euro – grants and loans - from the European Union is underway. Ukraine has already received the first tranche of our macro-financial assistance. Together with the first disbursements of the recently adopted State Building Contract, the European Union will have provided 850 million euros in a very short period of time. Since the end of April, Ukraine is benefiting, unilaterally, from the substantial market access advantages offered in the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. And we remain ready to sign the remaining parts of the Association Agreement.
Thirdly, Ukraine's energy security. We agree that energy should not be used as a political weapon. This G7 Summit should be firm and encourage Russia to lay down this weapon. The European Commission – and let me comment Commissioner Oettinger's efforts in the ongoing trilateral talks with Russia and Ukraine - is doing everything to act in this sense. A fair agreement between the parties, Ukraine and Russia, facilitated by the Commission on arrear payments, future gas price and modernisation of the gas transit system is coming into reach. I urge the parties to make a final effort. An agreement would be extremely important for the overall climate in the region.
Fourthly, we need to coordinate the international support to Ukraine. In response to a growing need for international coordination, an EU led "international donor coordination platform" is being set up. If the Ukrainian government sets up a reform coordination mechanism soon, we stand ready to organise in Brussels a high level international donors coordination meeting in early July, and an international donors' conference before the end of the year.
To conclude on Ukraine: I expect this summit to show unity so as to maximise the impact of our action. I am proud of the contribution our European Union has made so far, responding united and with determination and speed to the crisis in Ukraine. We are showing that the European Union can be a strong force for democracy, freedom, prosperity and the rule of law. This is what we are and the values we stand for. And this is why we are willing to work with our G7 partners for these goals to the benefit of all.
As part of the discussions on the global economy, this G7 summit should leave no doubt that international trade is one of the pillars of our growth strategy. We remain committed to keeping markets open and further liberalising global trade. This is clearly shown by our full engagement on the post-Bali programme and the negotiations on comprehensive Free Trade Agreements currently ongoing in particular with our non-European G7 partners. This summit should put its political clout behind a rapid conclusion of ongoing trade negotiations.
On the European economy, we are now meeting in a much better situation than last time we met in this kind of summit. Let's not forget that some time ago people around the world, many analysts were speaking about Greek exit or even implosion of Euro. Just today, the European Commission gave an opinion in favour of Lithuania joining the Euro area. So, not only the euro area is no disintegrating but we hope to have the 19th member of the Euro area on the 1st of January 2015. On the other points of the economy, President Van Rompuy already presented comprehensively our positions.
But let me make a point on energy security in general. The Ukrainian crisis once again confirmed that it is in the interest of all G7 members to advance on the path towards a low carbon, competitive and energy secure future. We call on this G7 Summit to endorse the principles and immediate actions proposed by the G7 Energy ministers in Rome a month ago.
Increasing our security of supply has been a key goal of European energy and climate policies for years. Just last week, the Commission has proposed an ambitious European Energy Security Strategy, which will be discussed and hopefully approved by EU Heads of State or Government at the European Council on 26-27 June.
The Commission will also ensure that all energy infrastructure and projects in the European Union such as South Stream comply 100% with European rules on energy competition public procurements and so on. We have just launched an infringement procedure against Bulgaria which shows that we mean business. Other infringements procedures related to other countries will follow if some of the obstacles to the respect of our internal market are not removed meanwhile. The European Union needs to speak and act as one in context with its suppliers letting ourselves divided is against the self interest of our countries and is also detrimental for the European internal market.
A word on the fight against climate change, which goes hand in hand with energy security: 2015 will be a crucial year! And all G7 Leaders will have to show leadership and responsibility as we need global action now. This Summit is an opportunity to build momentum in the run-up to the UN Climate Conference in Paris in December next year. Key for our credibility is that all of us communicate by the first quarter of 2015 the national commitments that we intend to inscribe in the new climate agreement. This is what all major economies should do. Here in Brussels and beyond, the G7 should leave no doubts that we want a robust, durable, comprehensive, and binding agreement at UN conference in Paris in December 2015.
Finally, addressing global poverty and sustainable development has been and must remain a core concern of this summit. This is a matter of global solidarity and fairness.
This G7 should confirm the development commitments. I expect the G7 notably to provide concrete support to resource-rich countries to build capacities in negotiating and enforcing contracts with extractive industries.
Furthermore, the G7 should advocate an ambitious outcome of the discussions on a universal post-2015 agenda. Just two days ago, the Commission has presented its contribution to the EU position in international negotiations on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as the follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Let me end on a more personal note: this will be my 10th meeting of this kind in my capacity as President of the European Commission. Looking back to the period between Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005 and now, I am convinced that these meetings between like-minded partners, because of their informality, because of the more intimate nature of the talks, are indeed a very good way of deepening our common understanding of the global issues and have been, and I hope they will remain now the G7 format, a very important contribution to global fairness and freedom.
I thank you for your attention.