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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Speaking with one voice: defining and
defending the European interest

EP Plenary: vote on new College

Strasbourg, 9 February 2010
Monsieur le Président,
Mesdames et Messieurs les députés,
"La Commission promeut l'intérêt général de l'Union et prend les initiatives
appropriées à cette fin. Elle veille à l'application des traités ainsi que des mesures
adoptées par les institutions en vertu de ceux-ci. Elle surveille l'application du droit
de l'Union sous le contrôle de la Cour de justice de l'Union européenne. Elle
exécute le budget et gère les programmes. Elle exerce des fonctions de
coordination, d'exécution et de gestion conformément aux conditions prévues par
les traités. À l'exception de la politique étrangère et de sécurité commune et des
autres cas prévus par les traités, elle assure la représentation extérieure de l'Union.
Elle prend les initiatives de la programmation annuelle et pluriannuelle de l'Union
pour parvenir à des accords interinstitutionnels."
Comme vous le savez bien, ceci est le texte de l'article 17(1) du Traité sur l'Union
Européenne. Je l'ai lu car il montre l'importance de la Commission pour la
réalisation du projet européen; une Commission qui, d'après le même article, est
responsable en tant que collège, devant votre Parlement.
Ainsi, aujourd'hui, nous voyons la démocratie européenne à l'œuvre!
Aujourd'hui, votre assemblée, composée de représentants directement élus par les
citoyens européens, est appelée à se prononcer sur le nouveau Collège des
S'ajoutant au vote sur le Président de la Commission du 16 septembre de l'année
dernière, ce scrutin tient une place essentielle dans la légitimité démocratique de la
Commission et donc du projet européen dans son ensemble.
L'équipe qui se présente devant vous aujourd'hui est prête à affronter les défis qui
Elle associe l'expérience et les idées neuves, elle reflète la large gamme
d'approches et de sensibilités qui fait de l'Europe cette formidable terre d'idées.
C’est une équipe pour laquelle vous pouvez voter en confiance, une équipe qui
mérite votre soutien. Et ensuite….
Ensuite quoi?
Les choses reprendraient leur cours habituel?
Non, je refuse de croire – et nos concitoyens ne comprendraient pas – qu’après ces
années de débat institutionnel, nous poursuivions, pour l’essentiel, comme
Nous vivons en effet des temps exceptionnels.
Les défis auxquels nous confrontent la crise économique et financière ainsi que le
changement climatique et la sécurité énergétique – pour n'en citer que quelques-
uns – sont tout simplement trop considérables pour que nous ne modifions pas
notre façon de faire.

Honourable Members,
This is a time for boldness. This is a time to show our citizens that we care, and that
the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty will make a real difference in our ability to
serve their interests.

I believe that our economic and social situation demands a radical shift from the
status quo. And the new Treaty allows this.
Our task is to use the new mechanics to bring on new dynamics!
So let's get away from the intellectual glamour of pessimism and constant
denigration of the European Union that is doing so much damage to Europe's
Let's move the discussion from institutional input to policy impact.
What Europe needs to succeed is policies focused on results, better governance
structures and confidence in our own ability to solve the problems we face. Our
common currency, the euro, will continue to constitute a major tool for our
development and those who think it can be put in question must realise we will stick
to our course. The European Union has the necessary framework to address any
challenge that appears in this respect.
We can start by asking ourselves: does the EU count in the world? And the answer
is yes. But does the EU count as much as it should in the world? The answer is…
not yet.
Europe counts when we speak with a strong and united voice. When the European
interest is clearly defined and vigorously defended. In trade for example, and
competition policy.
It is less successful when we act according to narrow national interests, in an un-
coordinated way. Or in areas where collectively the EU is not able to defend and
promote its collective interest.
So, in summary, we have to ask ourselves: are we doing everything we can to
define and defend the European interest – an interest that is more than the sum of
its parts?
Frankly, I believe we have to do more.
We need to set our work in an overall, longer-term vision of where we want the
European Union to be. This will ensure coherence, and offer a sense of direction
that actors across Europe can recognise and support.
The political guidelines I presented to this House are the starting point for this vision
of 'Europe 2020'. They are the fruit of our experience over the last five years. And
not least, they are the fruit of intensive discussions with this House.
Thanks to your strong support for these guidelines, I regard them as a useful point
of departure for us.
The broad priorities are clear: making a successful exit from the crisis; leading on
climate action and energy efficiency; boosting new sources of growth and social
cohesion to renew our social market economy; advancing a people's Europe with
freedom and security; and opening a new era for global Europe.
I believe in a Europe that is open and generous. A Europe that is particularly
dedicated to the Millennium Development Goals.
I believe in a Europe that shows solidarity to others, as we have shown recently in
Haiti, where we have contributed in an important way with emergency aid, and we
will also contribute with significant reconstruction aid.
But we can achieve more with better coordination at European level and I will make
proposals in this sense, exploring the new opportunities offered by the treaty.
The European External Action Service will also be a very important instrument to
make our foreign policy more coherent and effective.

I can promise you that if this College is granted your support, we will set to work
straightaway, turning the political guidelines into an ambitious work programme – a
work programme that I want to discuss with you.
Our Europe 2020 vision is both a structural and comprehensive reform strategy, and
an exit and recovery strategy. So we will make sure we embed short-term measures
to get Europe working again into our longer-term objectives, promoting jobs through
sustainable growth.
We will spend the next five years turning our vision into reality: making Europe a
resource efficient, inclusive, social market economy – reflecting what makes us
special, the European way of life.
This means growth based on knowledge and innovation: improving our productivity
by increasing our R&D and innovation performance, better exploiting the potential of
ICTs and creating a digital single market, raising education outcomes and
promoting skills.
This means an inclusive, high employment society: empowering people through
high levels of employment, using flexicurity, modernising labour markets and social
protection, fighting poverty, with a view to building a more inclusive society.
This means greener growth: building a competitive and sustainable economy,
tackling climate change, accelerating the roll-out of smart grids and genuine EU
scale networks, modernising the EU's industrial base, and turning the EU into a
resource efficient economy.
To achieve these goals we must recognise that the interdependence of our
economies requires better and more co-ordination.
Some national politicians, let's face it, are not in favour of a more co-ordinated
approach in economic policy. But if we want to overcome the crisis, reinforce the
social dimension and establish a good basis for a strong economic future for
Europe in the globalised world; if we want to reinforce our industrial base and
launch new common European projects (and not just bilateral ones): then stronger
economic co-ordination is the only way forward.
Other very important challenges need to be tackled during this mandate. We have
already mapped out a very ambitious and far-reaching programme in the field of
justice and home affairs. This not only includes the fight against terrorism and
crime, it also includes the very important priority of a common approach to
migration. In this area we show to our citizens our commitment to both freedom and
During this mandate we will also focus on the budget review and new financial
We believe that we should concentrate on the quality of the expenditure, on its
European added value and on its effectiveness, so that the financial perspectives
become an instrument to realise the ambitions of Europe: for our strategy for
sustainable growth and jobs, and also the goals of economic, social and territorial

Honourable Members,
This can only come from strong European institutions and a determination to raise
our level of ambition, to deliver change.
So it is most welcome that a key change in the Treaty is the strengthening of all the
European institutions.

I intend to use this to reinforce the contribution we can all make to the European
project, together. This is no time for our institutions to pull in different directions.
But of course the Commission will always have a special relationship with the
Parliament, as under the Community method, we are the two institutions with a
specific role to identify, articulate and give reality to the European interest.
That makes us the two Community institutions par excellence, with a particular
responsibility to ensure that the EU is more than the sum of its parts.
It was in this spirit that I offered, in the political guidelines I presented to you, a new
partnership with the European Parliament. It was in this spirit that we discussed a
new Framework Agreement, the principles of which are embodied in the resolution
before the House today.
This framework agreement should drive forward our common efforts to deliver
genuinely European responses to the issues faced by Europeans today.
So as well as updating the agreement to reflect the Lisbon Treaty, it must set out
new ways in which we will make co-operation a day-to-day reality.
It must help us to fashion a new culture of partnership and purpose, to use our
common leverage to offer a real advance for the European project.
Also several of these issues imply co-operation with the Council. So I would very
much welcome a broader agreement that unites the co-legislators, together with the
Commission, on a set of principles for inter-institutional co-operation.

Honourable Members,
I said we need to be bold. I said we cannot continue with business as usual. I have
outlined some innovations, and our priorities to tackle the social situation. I am
convinced they will strengthen our institutions and help us achieve our goals, in full
respect of our values.
Because let's never forget, our union is founded on values: respect for human
dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Today, a new chapter in our European adventure opens.
Let's work together to make it a real success – for all our citizens.
Thank you for your attention.


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