Barroso trekt lessen uit de crisis

Nieuws | de redactie
16 maart 2011 | Investeren in kennis en innovatie is van vitaal belang voor groei en banen van de toekomst. Ook nu alle landen in de EU zuinig aan moeten doen. José Manuel Barroso schetst de actuele aanpak van Europa om uit de crisis te komen “My priority is and always has been growth and jobs.”

“While budgetary consolidation and structural reforms areessential for competitiveness, investment in the industries of thefuture – notably through research and innovation – are also vital,”zei barroso in een vurige rede bij de Lisbon Council. Hijonderstreepte hoe met het nieuwe Euro reddingspact zijn’Europa 2020′ strategie een veel krachtiger opzet krijgt.

Anders dan bij de Lissabonstrategie zijn er scherpe targets enzijn de lidstaten ook nadrukkelijk gecommitteerd. “I realize thatmany people dismiss Europe 2020 as another Lisbon Strategy, whichfailed to deliver on its promise to make Europe the most dynamicand competitive region in the world. But believe me, Europe 2020 isdifferent. We have learned our lessons. We have clear targets. Wehave the seven flagship initiatives. We have a strengthenedgovernance structure.”

U leest zijn gehele betooghieronder.   

As you know, I have to attend lots of summits these days,including some that stretch through into the night. The last oneended only at 2.30 AM. The prospect of attending one – today -exclusively devoted to ‘Europe 2020’ constitutes a very goodopportunity for me to make a forceful case for it.

It’s a challenging time for Europe and also for the EuropeanCommission. We are still fighting the worst financial crisis sincethe start of the European integration and its consequences in theEuro-zone in particular. The Commission has been at the forefrontof developing a collective European response to the crisis, andthere is still much to do. As you know, we are in between twocrucial European Council meetings that aim to reach agreement amongEuropean Heads of State and Government on a comprehensive responseto the financial crisis as well as on strengthened economicgovernance.

We urgently need to draw a line under this crisis and build astrong and sustainable recovery in Europe. We need banks that areable to lend and governments that are able to borrow; companiesthat are willing to invest and consumers who are willing to spend;bold reforms at a national level and enhanced cooperation andgovernance at a European level. I am confident that we willsucceed.

The crisis has given added urgency to the need for Europe toreform. A year ago we set out our ambitious goals for the EuropeanUnion in the coming decade and laid them out in the “Europe 2020Strategy”. Since then, we have translated those objectives intomore focused initiatives and specific blueprints. Our aim issimple: good jobs, higher living standards, and a better quality oflife for all Europeans.

We need smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and to helpdeliver it we have presented seven flagship 2020 initiatives, mostrecently our plans for a “resourceefficient Europe” that welaunched in January. The stakes could not be higher. The worldaround us is changing fast and Europe needs to change too if itisn’t to be left behind.

China now exports more in six hours than it did in a whole yearin 1978. India has become the world’s biggest exporter of ITservices. For the first time since the Industrial Revolution, overhalf of global economic activity now takes places outside theso-called West. Europe cannot afford to be complacent. We need tofinally deliver on the reforms we have pledged to do. That is whatour citizens and businesses demand from Europe. And that is what Idemand from the EU institutions, including the Commission that Ihave the privilege to lead. That is also what I demand from MemberStates. And sometimes it takes a bit of time, but as we arewitnessing right now, in the end they agree on what needs to bedone.

I realize that many people dismiss Europe 2020 as another LisbonStrategy, which failed to deliver on its promise to make Europe themost dynamic and competitive region in the world. But believe me,Europe 2020 is different:

We have learned our lessons. We have clear targets. We have theseven flagship initiatives. We have a strengthened governancestructure, including the European Semester. And above all, we havea new awareness that we can no longer duck difficult decisions. Nowwe have the understanding from Member States.

 I just have received news that the Council has agreed onour proposals for strengthened economic governance, specifically inthe euro area, and I hope that the agreement of the EuropeanParliament will follow. The consensus will be better than we hadhoped for. Europe 2020 shies away from overambitious claims andunrealistic deadlines and puts forward demanding but achievablegoals.

This is a test of our credibility that is very important. Thisinvolves a new implementation mechanism embedded in a comprehensiveintegrated approach: Member States now commit to structural reformsin a concrete macro-economic and fiscal context and in theframework of strengthened economic governance for the euro area andfor all European Union Member States. Last but not least, theimportance and relevance of Europe 2020 are now acknowledged by allMember States. We definitely need their ownership, and that oftheir parliaments and other national stakeholders, to move forwardwith urgency.

Some analysts, you know, and some are probably here today, theyfear that Europe could suffer a “lost” or “grim” decade. It is ourcollective responsibility to make the next 9 years much brighter.The latest forecast for 2011 is better than expected – and it isevident that it is easier to adopt and implement structural reformswhen there is tangible growth. Healthy economic growth is also aprecondition for preserving and creating jobs across the Union -and this, in turn, helps launch and execute sustainablereforms.

For its part, the Annual Growth Survey that the Commissionadopted earlier this year clearly articulates 10 actions for urgentaction over the next 12 months, all anchored in ‘Europe 2020’. Theyare intended to promote fiscal consolidation, correctmacro-economic imbalances, and ensure financial stability – allprerequisites for sound growth. But they also aim to mobilizelabour markets, create job opportunities, tap the potential of theSingle Market, attract private capital and facilitatecost-effective access to energy.

Our overarching task is to prevent a vicious cycle ofunsustainable debt, financial market disruption, and low economicgrowth. In addition, we will soon put forward initiatives under theSingle Market Act and set out by 2012 a number of growth-enhancingmeasures. I expect the proposals for the Single Market Act to beadopted by the Commission next month.

And from June onwards, we will start a challenging debate on thenext Multi-annual Financial Perspectives – that is on the resourcesneeded to achieve our goals defined in the Europe 2020 Strategy andon the value-added of action at the EU level. What I can say now onthis is that there is consensus in the College of Commissionersthat the next EU budget should be devoted to support our Europe2020 goals.

Where does the new Pact for the Euro agreed by the Heads ofStates and Governments of the Euro Area last Friday fit into all ofthis? The Pact makes a clear reference to Europe 2020 and elevatesto the highest political level a set of concrete measures from ourstrategy in order to ensure their immediate implementation. And itreflects the priority actions that we identified in the AnnualGrowth Survey earlier in January.

Competitiveness is an essential element for our economies. Aneconomy must be competitive to grow. It must grow to create jobs.My priority is and always has been growth and jobs, which lie atthe heart of the ‘Europe 2020′ strategy. In line with Europe 2020,the Pact also acknowledges that while budgetary consolidation andstructural reforms are essential for competitiveness, investment inthe industries of the future – notably through research andinnovation – are also vital. And it also recognizes theCommission’s work on taxation and financial regulation. And indeedit puts the European Commission at the centre of these efforts.

I believe that the Pact will also constitute a significant pushtowards fair and sustainable growth in Europe. Next monthparticipating Member States are expected to translate the key areasof the Pact and the priorities put forward in the Annual GrowthSurvey into their national reform, stability and convergenceprogrammes.

This is a very important fact. Because, let me be frank, untillast Friday we had a perceived, no, in fact we had a real risk ofduplication of mechanisms. Now it is clear that Community andintergovernmental methods are coming together around Europe 2020,with a solid and central role for the European Commission.

My message is clear: we are on the right track. To paraphraseJacques Delors, the fire brigade of 2010 is being taken over by thearchitects – but apart from architects we also need le Genie civil,so to speak, engineers and craftsmen who make things happen on theground. “From firemen to foremen” – this could indeed be a way ofcharacterizing the change of phase, the change of gear we need atthis stage. There is no time to waste if we want to achieve what isnecessary for Europe by 2020.


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