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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Remarks by President Barroso following the European Council
Brussels, 27 June 2014
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by expressing on my own behalf and on behalf of the European Commission my congratulations to Jean-Claude Juncker on his nomination by the European Council as President-designate. I have known Jean-Claude Juncker for more than 20 years. We have been working in very many capacities together and I really believe that he is committed European and a political leader with exceptional experience. Myself and the Commission will do everything possible in the coming months to assure a smooth transition between this Commission and the next one.
In addition to this very important decision, the nomination of the President of the European Commission, the European Council has also given a clear direction for the policy agenda for the years ahead, so fulfilling the norm inscribed in the article 15 of the Treaty.
I believe the strategic priorities adopted are the right ones. They are important because it is critically important that the three institutions, the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission have a common understanding of the challenges ahead. We have discussed particularly today what is related to growth and jobs. We believe that is the best way to respond to the concerns express by our citizens, to have concrete results for growth and for jobs.
I'm therefore pleased that the European Council concluded successfully the so-called European semester. Our European economic governance, a partnership between European institutions and national governments, that precisely are a new expression of joint commitment to adopt together the economic issues. The European council has generally endorsed the country specific recommendations put forward by the European Commission. Now, full national ownership is essential if we want to be successful. I welcome the discussion and the confirmation of the commitment of all the leaders of the European Council to our fiscal rules, stability and growth pact. This is the cornerstone of economic governance in Europe. Those rules are precisely designed for boosting growth and jobs, both today and tomorrow, and where necessary they will have the flexibility to take into account the economic situation of the country concerned.
This morning we have also discussed energy security and the fight against climate change, having in mind that the critical decisions are going to take place at the European Council in October. One thing that is clear is that the recent events in Eastern Europe have shown yet again that we need to truly "Europeanize" energy policy, including notably its external dimension.
The Commission has tabled an European energy security strategy. I think we can say there is a broad agreement on it and now there will be the need to pursue some discussions with our Member States to have a formal agreement on energy security. I would say the energy union and also on our climate policy.
We confirmed our agreement to take a final decision on these matters in October, so that Europe can also keep the leadership in international climate talks.
We have discussed freedom, security and justice.
We have discussed also, and I very much welcome, the issue of cutting red tape, in Europe and not only in the European institutions but in Member States. The reality is that in some areas Europe needs to do more, but in others we have to recognise that it's probably better to do less. I've been saying it very clearly, Europe should be big on big things and small on small things. The Conclusions clearly recognise the progress achieved as detailed in the Commission's communication on REFIT, regulatory fitness and performance.
Finally, on external relations, this Summit will rightly be remembered for the historic association agreements we have signed with Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. I will not add to what myself and also President Van Rompuy have stated. Let me just add that I believe it was extremely important for President Poroshenko to come to the European Council. President Van Rompuy and myself have received him, and we had a very open conversation about the challenges, and I think it was good for all the European Union leaders to hear directly from him on how he sees developments in his country and region. There were also some decisions following that conversation that you will find in the conclusions.
On the matters of direct competence of the European Commission, I just want to highlight and confirm that we are going to have on 8 July a High Level international meeting to coordinate the international assistance to Ukraine. This meeting will take place here in Brussels. And, of course, regarding the concrete aspect of implementation of the agreement signed with Ukraine, namely the DCFTA part, there will be a meeting between the Commissioner for Trade and the Ministerial representatives from Russia and Ukraine. We are planning it for 11 July.
Finally, a very sincere word of thanks to my good friend Antonis Samaras and his team. The work done during the Greek Presidency is really impressive. It was more than normal, also because it was the end of the cycle of the institutions and the European Parliament, but it was really a demonstration of the great commitment of Greece for our common project. And the fact that at the same time there are so important challenges in Greece and that Samaras was able, not only to reinforce the stability of his country but also to make Europe move forward, together with the exceptional people that are working with him. I think it's something that we should remember as a very important contribution of the Hellenic Presidency to our common work and I want to thank you once again.