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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Press statement by President Juncker at the joint press conference with Donald Tusk, President of the European Council before the G20 summit

Hamburg, 7 July 2017

Dear Mr President Tusk, Dear Donald,

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are in Germany, so I will speak in German.

Donald and I are glad to be in Hamburg today. We are being given a warm reception. But we are also listening to what we hear on the streets. It is not as if we were blind and deaf as we passed through Hamburg and life. I listen very carefully when reasoned attempts are made to influence the outcome of the Summit. 

We stand before you this year with somewhat more wind in our sails than has been the case in previous years. The global economy has seen a return to growth. It is not growing enough but nevertheless shows a growth rate of 2% for 2017 and 2018. The 28 Member States of the European Union are all experiencing growth. That growth is still uneven, and unevenly distributed, but nevertheless the economies of all 28 Member States of the European Union are once again expanding.

Since 2013, ten million jobs have been created in the European Union. The downward trend of falling numbers of vacancies and fewer and fewer job opportunities has halted. We have the lowest unemployment rate for nine years although unemployment figures are, of course, still too high. 233 million Europeans are now in work - that is the highest employment rate that we have ever reported in the European Union. It is also partly explained by the fact that over the past 21 months, the European economy has grown significantly more than the American economy.

Now we must make the most of this momentum to carry forward our reforms, including structural reforms, so that we do not fall back into the old reflex reactions. Now is not the time to revert to the simple tool of protectionism. That would be absolutely the wrong thing to do.

Yesterday, we - President Tusk, Prime Minister Abe, and myself - pursued the right path. Not protectionist barriers between major players on the world economic stage, but determination to seek a consensus. This is the reason we were able to successfully conclude the Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan yesterday. Japan and the European Union - that amounts to a third of global added value. The agreement will enable us to increase our exports to Japan by one third. And yet all relevant areas of European interests will be safeguarded: employment, environment, data protection. It is all being dealt with through the agreement with Japan in what is, in our view, an exemplary manner that involves no compromises.

I referred earlier to protectionism. We are already hearing that some parties are considering introducing protective measures against steel imports in the near future. If this does happen, the European Union will know how to respond appropriately. It would be better if we discussed the subject of over-production of steel rather than protective measures against steel imports from other parts of the world.

The partnership with Africa is important for Mr Tusk and myself. Enough reams have already been written about Africa. Now it is time to act. And the European Union is doing so: we circulated a proposal, some time ago indeed, for an investment plan running to EUR 44 billion. We must play our part in enabling the issues to be solved on the ground.

And that is why it remains important for us that we do not fall behind what was agreed in Paris on matters of climate change. What we do to protect against climate change today will prevent the causes that lead to refugees fleeing tomorrow. What we fail to do today will accelerate the flight of refugees from areas affected by drought. This being so, the subject of climate change must be pushed forward with all due intensity and seriousness. It is the key topic for the future and on this Europe must do its utmost.

Thank you very much.


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