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EC President Barroso warns of dangers of fragmented Europe in State of the Union Address 2011

Commission President José Manuel Barroso sets out a EU strategy for sustainable growth and jobs in his annual State of the Union speech to the European Parliament.

"We are now facing the greatest challenge our Union has ever known throughout its history,” he said, referring to the continuing economic crisis.

The EU must renew itself by becoming more competitive, living within its means, taming “irresponsible” financial markets, addressing economic imbalances and addressing the pressures of globalisation.

Above all, more political will and leadership is needed to rebuild confidence and trust – among its citizens and in the financial markets.

The Commission’s full reform agenda needs to be implemented so Europe can create sustainable growth and jobs.

The agenda includes:

  • continuing support for Greece – eurozone countries have pledged to provide support, provided the country successfully implements its reform programme
  • a new system of financial regulation – some of the proposals have been adopted and others are awaiting approval, such as new rules on derivatives, short selling, credit default swaps and fair remuneration for bankers
  • a financial transaction tax – a contribution back to society from financial institutions. Some of the tax would help fund the EU’s proposed budget for 2014-2020, geared towards investment in growth and jobs
  • preventing tax evasion – through an EU savings tax and providing the Commission with the mandate to negotiate tax agreements on behalf of the EU with other countries
  • strengthening economic union – removing legal and administrative barriers to trade in services across the EU (the proposed Services Directive)
  • investing in research, innovation, resource efficiency and education – detailed proposals need to be adopted
  • connecting Europe’s energy, transport and digital networks
  • addressing youth unemployment – providing more support for internships and apprenticeships, and accelerating other EU programmes.

The Commission will also present proposals for EU project bonds, which would raise money for investment in infrastructure projects across Europe.

We can renew Europe, he said.

José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
European renewal – State of the Union Address 2011
European Parliament
Strasbourg, 28 September 2011

Honourable members,

Let me start with Greece. Greece is, and will remain, a member of the euro area. Greece must implement its commitments in full and on time. In turn, the other euro area members have pledged to support Greece and each other. As stated at the euro area Summit on 21 July: "We are determined to continue to provide support to countries under programmes until they have regained market access, provided they successfully implement those programmes."

That is why I created the Task Force for Greece.

We have just launched an action plan based on two major pillars:

Around 100 viable and high-quality projects, investing in all Greek regions, to make the best use of Greece's remaining allocation of the structural funds.

And a major drive to reduce bureaucratic procedures for European co-funded projects.

€ 15 billion remain to be spent in Greece from the structural funds. This will support the Greek economy with an urgent programme of technical assistance to the Greek administration.

A programme of € 500 million Euros to guarantee European Investment Bank loans to Greek SMEs is already under way.

The Commission is also considering a wider guarantee mechanism to help banks lend again to the real economy.

All of this represents a huge support to Greece's fight back and Greece will have to deliver concrete results. It must break with counter productive practices and resist vested interests.

But we have to be clear about this. This is not a sprint, but a marathon.

The task of building a Union of stability and responsibility is not only about Greece.

The economic outlook that we face is very difficult. We are confronted with the negative effects of an ongoing global re-assessment of risks. It is therefore our responsibility to rebuild confidence and trust in the euro and our Union as a whole.

And we can do this by showing that we are able to take all the decisions needed to run a common currency and an integrated economy in a competitive, inclusive and resource-efficient way. For this we need to act in the short, in the medium and the long term.

The first step is to quickly fix the way we respond to the sovereign debt crisis.

This will require stronger mechanisms for crisis resolution. We need credible firepower and effective firewalls for the euro.

We have to build on the EFSF and the upcoming European Stability Mechanism.

The EFSF must immediately be made both stronger and more flexible. This is what the Commission proposed already in January. This is what Heads of State and Government of the euro area agreed upon on 21 July. Only then, when you ratify this, will the EFSF be able to:

  • deploy precautionary intervention;
  • intervene to support the recapitalisation of banks,
  • intervene in the secondary markets to help avoid contagion

Once the EFSF is ratified, we should make the most efficient use of its financial envelope. The Commission is working on options to this end.

Moreover we should do everything possible to accelerate the entry into force of the ESM.

And naturally we trust that the European Central Bank – in full respect of the Treaty – will do whatever is necessary to ensure the integrity of the euro area and to ensure its financial stability.

But we cannot stop there. We must deepen economic coordination and integration, particularly in the euro area.

This is at least as big a political task as an economic one.

Today, you will vote on the so-called "six-pack" proposals that we put in front of you and the Council one year ago. This "six-pack" reforms the Stability and Growth Pact and widens surveillance to macro-economic imbalances. We are now back very close to what the Commission originally put on the table. You have played a decisive role in keeping the level of ambition of these proposals, and I really want to thank you and congratulate you for that.

This legislation will give us much stronger enforcement mechanisms. We can now discuss Member States' budgetary plans before national decisions are taken. This mix of discipline and integration holds the key to the future of the euro area. Only with more integration and discipline we can have a really credible euro area.

Honourable members,

These are indeed important steps forward, but we must go further. We need to complete our monetary union with an economic union. We need to achieve the tasks of Maastricht.

It was an illusion to think that we could have a common currency and a single market with national approaches to economic and budgetary policy. Let's avoid another illusion that we can have a common currency and a single market with an intergovernmental approach.

For the euro area to be credible – and this not only the message of the federalists, this is the message of the markets – we need a truly Community approach. We need to really integrate the euro area, we need to complete the monetary union with real economic union. And this truly Community approach can be built how? In the coming weeks, the Commission will build on the six-pack and present a proposal for a single, coherent framework to deepen economic coordination and integration, particularly in the euro area. This will be done in a way that ensures the compatibility between the euro area and the Union as a whole. We do not want the euro area to break of course the great acquis of the single market and all our four freedoms.

At the same time, we can pool decision making to enhance our competitiveness. This could be done by integrating the Euro Plus Pact into this framework, in full respect of the national implementation competences.

For all of this to work, we need more than ever the independent authority of the Commission, to propose and assess the actions that the Member States should take. Governments, let's be frank, cannot do this by themselves. Nor can this be done by negotiations between governments.

Indeed, within the Community competences, the Commission is the economic government of the Union, we certainly do not need more institutions for this.

For a reason the Treaties have created supra-national institutions. For a reason the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the European Court of Justice were created. The Commission is the guarantor of fairness. Moreover, the Commission, which naturally works in partnership with the Member States, is voted by and accountable to this House. The directly elected Parliament both of the euro area and of the European Union as a whole.

Honourable members,

It is also time to have unified external representation of the euro area. In accordance with the Treaty the Commission will make proposals for this purpose.

A Union of stability and responsibility built on this basis and with common approach will also allow the Member States to seize fully the advantages of a bigger market for the issuance of sovereign debt.

Once the euro area is fully equipped with the instruments necessary to ensure both integration and discipline, the issuance of joint debt will be seen as a natural and advantageous step for all. On condition that such Eurobonds will be "Stability Bonds": bonds that are designed in a way that rewards those who play by the rules, and deters those who don't. As I already announced to this house, the Commission will present options for such "Stability Bonds" in the coming weeks.

Some of these options can be implemented within the current Treaty, whereas fully fledged 'Eurobonds' would require Treaty change. And this is important because, Honourable Members, we can do a lot within the existing Treaty of Lisbon. And there is no excuse for not doing it, and for not doing it now.

But it may be necessary to consider further changes to the Treaty.

I am also thinking particularly of the constraint of unanimity. The pace of our joint endeavour cannot be dictated by the slowest. And today we have a Union where it is the slowest member that dictates the speed of all the other Member States. This is not credible also from the markets' point of view, this is why we need to solve this problem of decision making. A Member State has of course the right not to accept decisions. That is a question, as they say, of national sovereignty. But a Member State does not have the right to block the moves of others, the others also have their national sovereignty and if they want to go further, they should go further.

Our willingness to envisage Treaty change should not be a way or an excuse to delay the reforms that are necessary today but I believe that this longer term perspective will reinforce the credibility of our decisions now.

A Union of stability and responsibility means swiftly completing the work on a new system of regulation for the financial sector. We need well-capitalised, responsible banks lending to the real economy.

Much has been said about the alleged vulnerability of some of our banks. European banks have substantially strengthened their capital positions over the past year. They are now raising capital to fill the remaining gaps identified by the stress tests in summer. This is necessary to limit the damage to financial market turbulence on the real economy and on jobs.

Over the last three years, we have designed a new system of financial regulation.

Let's remember, we have already tabled 29 pieces of legislation. You have already adopted several of them, including the creation of independent supervising authorities, which are already working. Now it is important to approve our proposals for new rules on:

  • derivatives;
  • naked short selling and credit default swaps;
  • fair remuneration for bankers.

These propositions are there, they should be adopted by the Council and by the Parliament. The Commission will deliver the remaining proposals by the end of this year, namely rules on:

  • credit rating agencies;
  • bank resolution;
  • personal responsibility of financial operatives.

So we will be the first constituency in the G20 to have delivered on our commitment to global efforts for financial regulation.

Honourable members,

In the last three years, Member States - I should say taxpayers - have granted aid and provided guarantees of € 4.6 trillion to the financial sector. It is time for the financial sector to make a contribution back to society. That is why I am very proud to say that today, the Commission adopted a proposal for the Financial Transaction Tax. Today I am putting before you a very important text that if implemented may generate a revenue of above € 55 billion per year. Some people will ask "Why?". Why? It is a question of fairness. If our farmers, if our workers, if all the sectors of the economy from industry to agriculture to services, if they all pay a contribution to the society also the banking sector should make a contribution to the society.

And if we need – because we need – fiscal consolidation, if we need more revenues the question is where these revenues are coming from. Are we going to tax labour more? Are we going to tax consumption more? I think it is fair to tax financial activities that in some of our Member States do not pay the proportionate contribution to the society.

It is not only financial institutions who should pay a fair share. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to tax evasion. So it is time to adopt our proposals on savings tax within the European Union. And I call on the Member States to finally give the Commission the mandate we have asked for to negotiate tax agreements for the whole European Union with third countries.

Honourable members,

Stability and responsibility are not enough on their own. We need stability but we also need growth. We need responsibility but we also need solidarity.

The economy can only remain strong if it delivers growth and jobs. That's why we must unleash the energy of our economy, especially the real economy.

The forecasts today point to a strong slowdown.

But significant growth in Europe is not an impossible dream. It will not come magically tomorrow. But we can create the conditions for growth to resume. We have done it before. We must and we can do it again.

It is true that we do not have much room for a new fiscal stimulus.

But that does not mean that we cannot do more to promote growth.

First, those who have fiscal space available must explore it – but in a sustainable way.

Second, all member states need to promote structural reforms so that we can increase our competitiveness in the world and promote growth.

Together, we can and must tap the potential of the Single Market, exploit all the benefits of trade and mobilise investment at the Union level.

Let me start with the Single Market.

Full implementation of the Services Directive alone could, according to our estimates, deliver up to € 140 billion in economic gains.

But today, two years after the deadline for implementation, several Member States have still not adopted the necessary laws.

So we are not benefiting from all the possible gains from having a true services liberalisation in Europe.

But we can also do more.

We must adopt what is on the table. We have adopted the Single Market Act in the European Commission. A number of key initiatives are ready.

We are close to having a European patent which would cut the cost of protection to 20% of current costs. I expect this is to be concluded by the end of this year.

Moreover, for the Single Market Act, we should consider a fast track legislative procedure. By the way, in many areas we should take a fast track legislative procedure because we are living in real emergency times. This will allow us to respond to these extraordinary circumstances.

And growth in the future will depend more and more on harnessing information technology. We need a digital single market, which will benefit each and every European by around €1500 per year – by using the possibilities of e-commerce to ending, for instance, mobile roaming charges.

An extra 10 % in broadband penetration would bring us between 1 and 1.5 % of extra annual growth.

In a competitive world we must be also well-educated with skills to face these new challenges. We must innovate. And we must act in a sustainable way.

We have already presented detailed proposals on innovation, resource-efficiency and how we can strengthen our industrial base.

Modern industrial policy is about investing in research and innovation.

We need to accelerate the adoption of our efforts to boost the use of venture capital to fund young, innovative companies across Europe.

Sustainable jobs will come if we focus on innovation and new technologies, including green technologies. We must see that "green" and growth go together.

For example, the renewables sector has already created 300,000 jobs in past 5 years in the European Union. The global green technology market will triple over the next decade.

We must focus our action on where it makes a real impact. Growth of the future means we must actively pursue also our smart regulation agenda, which will give a saving of € 38 billion for European companies, particularly for SMEs. But Member States must also do their part in reducing the administrative burden.

But we also need investment. These reforms are important but we also need some kind of investment at European level.

A Union of growth and solidarity needs modern, interconnected infrastructures.

We have proposed for the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) to create a facility to connect Europe – in energy, in transport, in digital.

This innovative part of our MFF proposal has to be seen together with another very important innovative idea: the project bond.

In the coming weeks the Commission will publish its proposals for EU project bonds. We are also proposing pilot projects, so that we can fund that growth. We can do iteven before the MFF is adopted. In this way we can frontload some of the major infrastructure investments Europe needs.

The Union and its Member States should urgently consider how to allow our own policy-driven bank, the European Investment Bank to do more – and possibly much more – to finance long-term investment.

To do so, we need to explore ways to reinforce the EIB's resources and capital base so that it can lend to the real economy.

In the year 2000, there was € 22 billion of venture capital in Europe. In 2010 there was only € 3 billion. If we want to promote entrepreneurship we must reverse this decline and we need that support namely for SMEs.

We can also get more growth out of the Structural Funds, by increasing absorption capacity, using the Structural Funds to support macroeconomic performance. They are essential for innovation, for training and employment, and for SMEs.

I would also like to urge this House to adopt by the end of the year the proposals we made in August to increase cofinancing rates to those countries with assistance programmes. This will inject essential funding into these economies, while reducing pressure on national budgets.

Honourable members,

Reforms to our labour markets, public finances and pension systems require a major effort from all parts of society.

We all know these changes are necessary, so that we can reform our social market economy and keep our social model. But it is imperative that we hold on to our values – values of fairness, of inclusiveness and of solidarity.

Right now we need to give concrete hope to the 1 in 5 of our young people who cannot find work. In some countries, the situation of our young people is simply dramatic. I want to call on companies to make a special effort to provide internships and apprenticeships for young people. These can be supported by the European Social Fund.

By getting businesses, the social partners, national authorities and the Union level working in a "Young Opportunities Initiative", we can make a difference. This I believe is the most urgent social matter to respond to the anxiety of our young people that cannot find a job and it is much better to have an apprenticeship, a traineeship, than to be with that anxiety in the streets expressing that lack of confidence in the Union as a whole.

We must accelerate the most urgent parts of our Growth and Jobs Plan, Europe 2020. The Commission will focus on the situation of young people in each and every Member State in its Country-specific recommendations for next year.

I believe we must give our future a real chance.

Right now we also need to act to help the 80 million Europeans at risk of poverty. This means that the Council must finally approve our proposal to safeguard the programme for the supply of food for the most deprived persons. I would like to thank this Parliement for the political support it has given to our proposed solution.

Honourable Members,

Fifty years ago, 12 countries in Europe came together to sign the Social Charter. It was exactly in October 50 years ago. Today, that Charter has 47 signatories, including all our Member States.

To guarantee these fundamental values in Europe, I believe we need to boost the quality of social dialogue at European level. The renewal of Europe can only succeed with the input and the ownership of all the social partners – of trade unions, of workers, of businesses, civil society in general.

We should remember that our Europe is a Europe of citizens. As citizens, we all gain through Europe. We gain a European identity and citizenship apart from our national citizenship. European citizenship adds a set of rights and opportunities. The opportunity to freely cross borders, to study and work abroad. Here again, we must all stand up and preserve and develop these rights and opportunities. Just as the Commission is doing now with our proposals on Schengen. We will not tolerate a rolling back of our citizens' rights. We will defend the freedom of circulation and all the freedoms in our Union.

Letter by President Barroso to the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek

"Dear President Buzek,

As I will say in the State of the Union address I will make today to the European Parliament, the European Union is at a critical turning point. The economic crisis continues and the road to recovery is proving long and steep for our citizens. Job creation is still trailing as economic growth struggles to take hold across many regions. Public debt remains a heavy burden, with the potential to hold back both short and long term growth unless addressed firmly and with urgency. Many of our proudest achievements - such as the Euro and the Schengen area of free movement of people - are under pressure. Facing such a situation now is the time for all pro-European forces, such as the European Parliament and the European Commission, to rally support for our European project and to demonstrate that deeper European integration is the key to solving these challenges.

We all know that a sustainable economic recovery is the overriding challenge for this generation. By restoring growth and confidence we will have the means to sustain the EU's unique social model and to support the aspirations of our citizens. This is the background against which the Commission is preparing its Work Programme for 2012. It will be a programme of hard work and delivery to promote growth and reforms, driven by a shared sense of priority and urgency. It will use the foundations we have put in place in recent years as a springboard to drive forward growth and jobs. In addition to the proposals announced in my speech, it will be built around a number of main themes

  • Building a Union of stability and responsibility
  • Building a Union of Growth and solidarity
  • Giving the EU an effective voice in the wider world
  • The work we have undertaken together in the past few years represents an unprecedented renewal of the economic fabric of the EU. The European semester and the Annual Growth Survey have fundamentally improved our ability to deliver real coordination. We are putting in place a new generation of regulation and supervision for a strong and sound financial sector. We are maximising the leverage of the single market to put in place tomorrow's sources of growth and jobs. In all these areas, this year has already seen important new proposals from the Commission.
  • In the coming weeks, more will follow, on key financial services sectors like derivatives, hank crisis prevention and resolution, and credit rating agencies, on making life easier for SMEs, on energy and on responsible business. In addition, we will propose a major programme of sector-specific programmes and instruments to implement a modem budget for Europe. Each proposal will be shaped to deliver our goal of EU added value. Agreement on this package must be at the top of our agenda to achieve our objectives over the coming year.

The Commission Work Programme for 2012 is our first opportunity to implement our new Framework Agreement across the full cycle of preparation. Our structured dialogue is a very concrete expression of the special partnership between our two institutions.

I want to thank you for the comprehensive report of the Conference of Committee Chairs (CCC), which the Commission has been examining carefully as part of the preparatory process. Along with the 6 July EP resolution adopted by a very large majority of MEPs, this document confirms Parliament's ambition for the EU. Starting with the State of the Union debate delivered today, our structured dialogue will intensify over the coming weeks, leading to adoption of the Work Programme on 15 November. In line with the Framework Agreement, this letter sets out the main elements guiding the preparation of the Work Programme, to feed into our dialogue. Some of the key elements are highlighted in bullet points as illustrations of future proposals but these do not represent a definitive or exhaustive list. I particularly look forward to the meeting between the CCC and the College on 12 October. The meeting last year showed how this forum can provide a strong platform for building a sense of common purpose.

A Union of stability and responsibility: A macro-economic and governance framework conducive to growth
We must create a virtuous circle in European economic management by ensuring that national and EU economic policies work together. We must complete the job of putting in place strong structures for economic governance and financial supervision, so that the confidence of citizens and markets alike are restored. The EU's single market constitutes a huge potential for growth, and needs to be boosted.

We need to move ahead of the curve, to shift the focus from crisis management to the growth model of the future, in line with our Europe 2020 Strategy. We need to show that the steps we have already made are carried through into implementation and make a real difference for our citizens. With these aims in mind the 2012 Commission Work Programme will include proposals on:

The second Annual Growth Survey

European semester recommendations to each Member State, incorporating the new excessive imbalances procedure, and the further economic governance proposals announced in my speech
At a time where fiscal consolidation is crucial, the Commission will also pursue its efforts to tackle the challenge of tax evasion, including opening negotiations on savings tax havens with key third countries on the basis of the draft mandate currently awaiting Council approval.

One of the Union's most effective tools to boost growth is the EU budget. Following the overall proposal on the multiannual financial framework in June, this autumn the Commission will table the legal basis for the next financial framework, with a focus on where the EU can make a real difference and a strong emphasis on simplification.

  • A Union of Growth and Solidarity
  • A single market for growth
  • Keeping the Single Market fit for purpose is essential in securing lasting growth and employment in Europe. We should harness new ideas and new technology to ensure that we make the most of today's Single Market. Following extensive public consultation, the Single Market Act announced 12 concrete measures, which the Commission will table over the coming months. I encourage Parliament and Council to fast-track these initiatives in the legislative process, to ensure that tangible benefits are felt by businesses and citizens as quickly as possible.

But our efforts will not stop at this. As the economy develops, the framework that our enterprises operate in must evolve. In 2012, the Commission will propose further initiatives to strengthen the Single Market, reduce administrative burdens and allow economic operators to take full advantage from the opportunities offered by a 500 million-strong home market. Legislative follow-up to the forthcoming 'performance check' will aim to improve further the single market for services, tapping into new sources of jobs and growth. Modernising the VAT system will help business to focus on growth, not least SMEs.

Confident consumers create thriving markets. Building on this autumn's work, the next work programme will announce measures to strengthen consumer rights, including in electronic and cross border transactions and effectively address health and safety related matters, thus improving citizens' security, while underpinning demand in the Single Market.

A comprehensive package of proposals will provide for competitive and safe railway services, making an important contribution to the sustainability of the European transport system. Infrastructure is as central as ever to global competitiveness, with the 'Connecting Europe' programme the core of our strategy to build effective and sustainable infrastructure development across the EU.

Finally, whilst the key proposals to meet the EU's G20 commitments on financial services reform will already be on the table by the end of 2011, the Commission will continue to work for further responsibility, transparency and solidity in a sector indispensible to growth and investment. Additional measures in 2012 will include proposals targeting investment funds, the insurance sector and investor protection.

With these aims in mind the 2012 Commission Work Programme will include proposals on:

  • Investor protection for retail investment and for investment funds
  • Preparing the VAT system of the future
  • A European Consumer Agenda
  • Revised rules on general product safety
  • Railway liberalisation package
  • Electronic identification and authentification
  • Effective collective rights management
  • State aids framework for services of general economic interest
  • Jobs and skills
  • In Europe, economic success and social cohesion are two sides of the same coin. Today's high levels of unemployment are a source of considerable hardship and a major threat to our future social cohesion and economic development. Europe will only succeed when it empowers everyone to play her or his part in moving society forward.

This is a turning point for our societies. With the impact of ageing accelerating, we cannot afford to lose the potential, skills and talents of our workforce. We need to invest in our human and social capital. Several Member States and companies have already understood this: during the crisis, they kept their employees in work, sometimes with reduced working hours or new positions, and are now able to make full use of their talents and training.

And the social impact of the crisis goes far beyond the world of work: financially distressed families find it hard to make ends meet, increasing numbers of children are exposed to risks of poverty, stress-related diseases and other adverse health impacts hurt our society. That is why the Commission will continue to fight against poverty and will campaign to deliver on this key Europe 2020 target.

Securing our societies for the future also means taking timely action to address long term challenges, including the sustainability of pension systems. While most levers are national, the EU can make an important contribution, and several initiatives will follow up on our work on pensions. Financing welfare, while returning to healthy public finances, requires rethinking not only spending priorities, but also the sources of revenue.

To enhance Europe's social market economy, initiatives in next year's work programme will include:

  • An Employment package (covering a renewed flexicurity agenda, a green jobs initiative and a Young Opportunities Initiative )
  • Supporting Occupational Retirement Provision
  • Protecting the supplementary pension rights of people who change jobs
  • A sustainable path to the future
  • Establishing a coherent framework to guide the gradual transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient society has been a top priority for this Commission. 2012 will be the last year of preparation before the climate-energy package of 2009 comes fully into force, and it will also see new measures to help meet our agreed targets and help citizens, communities and businesses shape long-term plans to a low-carbon future. In the field of transport, we will build on the successful measures to cut vehicle emissions. We will help put in place the infrastructure needed to make alternative fuels and vehicles readily available. A new blueprint for water will be a major deliverable of the flagship on resource efficiency.

Such measures will work in parallel with the mainstreaming of climate objectives into all future expenditure from the EU budget, a major contribution to realising our climate objectives. The Commission will continue to factor climate goals into all relevant legislation, and factor developments in international negotiations into our work in Europe.

Energy use has in the course of history proven one of the fundamental determinants of a prosperous society. A secure, sustainable and competitive energy system is established as a common EU objective. A strategy for the deployment of renewable energy beyond 2020 will be developed to offer stability for the longer term. Furthermore, in the aftermath of the tragic Fukushima accident, and as a follow-up to the stress tests, a thorough revision of the existing nuclear safety framework will be undertaken.

With these aims in mind the 2012 Commission Work Programme will include proposals on:

  • Further steps on emissions from passenger cars and vans
  • Facilitating clean power for transport
  • Safeguarding Europe's water resources
  • Updating the EURA TOM nuclear safety legislative framework
  • An open Europe for citizens
  • The creation of an open and secure space, where EU citizens and third-country nationals with legal rights of entry and residence may enter, move around, live and work is one of the most powerful demonstrations of the EU in action.

Over the last year events inside and outside the Union have brought the issue of border controls to the top of our agenda. To safeguard our historic accomplishments in terms of liberty and mobility, we must continuously strengthen and develop our border system to respond to new challenges.

We must also continue to enforce a common migration policy to allow the responsible management of migration in the EU After in-depth consultation of stakeholders, the Commission will present a package on the next generation of border checks. We will also work to ensure practical application of free movement of workers inside the Union as one of the core rights of citizens in the Single Market.

The 2012 Commission Work Programme will take forward several core initiatives of the ambitious Stockholm Programme Action Plan. A legislative proposal on extending ?-Justice will use ICT to facilitate cooperation in the justice field. We will also target the need to ensure that documents in legal proceedings can be recognised across the Union.

With these aims in mind the 2012 Commission Work Programme will include proposals on:

  • The next generation of border checks
  • Strategy on prevention and fight against trafficking of human beings
  • Employment and migration
  • Giving the EU an effective voice in the wider world
  • To an ever growing extent, the prosperity and security of EU citizens are influenced directly by developments beyond our borders. It is in our interest to seek to shape these developments, and we do so best together.

The historic developments in our Southern Mediterranean neighbourhood provide an opportunity for the EU to act as a positive influence on the road to democracy and prosperity. We need to work with new governments to see what support and encouragement we can offer - in terms of political support, technical assistance, and concrete aid to reconstruction and economic development.

Solidarity is a fundamental European value - and it extends beyond our borders. As the world's largest donor of international development assistance, the EU will play a leading role in helping the world's poorest societies, with particular focus on achieving the MDGs. In 2012, a concrete expression of EU's global solidarity will come in the form of proposals to set up a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps.

The Commission will also continue to support the EU's growth objectives on the international scene. While the overall objective remains a successful conclusion of ongoing multilateral trade negotiations and a further strengthening of the WTO through Russian accession, we hope to have concluded FTAs with Ukraine, Canada, Singapore and India in the coming period, and to take a decisive step forward with Japan. We are also working towards the launch of negotiations for an EU investment agreement with China.

Assessments of potential future enlargements and ongoing talks will continue through 2012. We are looking forward to soon welcoming Croatia as the 2$ member of our family. Efforts in 2012 will be pursued to allow Croatia to benefit fully from and to keep up the pace of preparations for meeting the obligations of membership.

With these aims in mind the 2012 Commission Work Programme will include proposals on:

  • Setting up a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps
  • Enlargement package 2012
  • Smart regulation and effective implementation
  • In delivering its Work Programme, the Commission will maintain its strong commitment to producing proposals of the highest quality. Preparation is key to quality, and preparation means ensuring that initiatives are developed in full consultation with stakeholders. To ensure a strong stakeholders input, from 2012 onwards, the consultation period is extended from 8 to 12 weeks.

Moreover, even when proposals are well prepared, and successfully scrutinised and supported by Parliament and Council, their real impact relies on implementation. Today, too many political actions do not translate into tangible benefits for citizens, companies and public authorities. The Commission will continue to fully live up to its role as guardian of the Treaty. This also involves a proactive application and development of competition policy as a key instrument in ensuring a level playing field and well-functioning single market.

With these aims in mind the 2012 Commission Work Programme will include proposals on:

  • Protecting the financial interests of the European Union

The way forward

2020 is only eight years from now. With the pace of global developments, EU must seize the chance to consolidate its position in the world. Attaining our ambitious targets depends on both Member States and European institutions delivering on a mutual commitment to reform. To have real impact by 2020, the efforts at European level must be frontloaded. That means acting now to secure the progress we need. I look forward to working with the European Parliament in the coming weeks to develop a programme of initiatives that will help to restore growth and confidence to our Union."

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