Forlaget Columbus

Jose Manuel Barroso: State of the Union. 2012

Jose Manuel Barroso. Foto: EU-kommissionen

Jose Manuel Barroso var formand for EU-Kommissionen (2004-2014).

It is an honour to stand before you today to deliver this third State of the Union address. At a time when the European Union continues to be in crisis. Citizens are frustrated. They are anxious. They feel their way of life is at risk. Over the last four years, we have made many bold decisions to tackle this systemic crisis. But despite all these efforts, our responses have not yet convinced citizens, markets or our international partners. Why? Because time and again, we have allowed doubts to spread. Doubts over whether some countries are really ready to reform and regain competitiveness. Doubts over whether other countries are really willing to stand by each other so that the Euro and the European project are irreversible.

A decisive deal for Europe
What I demand and what I present to you today is a Decisive Deal for Europe.

In Europe, this means first and foremost accepting that we are all in the same boat. It means recognising the commonality of our European interests. It is the only way we will get the scale and efficiency we need to be a global player. It is the only way to safeguard our values, because it is also a matter of values, in a changing world. We must all leave no doubts that we are determined to reform. To reform together. This decisive deal requires the completion of a deep and genuine economic union, based on a political union.

Firstly, we need growth. At the national level it means undertaking structural reforms that have been postponed for decades. Modernising public administration. Reducing wasteful expenditure. Tackling vested interests and privileges. Reforming the labour market to balance security with flexibility. And ensuring the sustainability of social systems. At the European level, we need to be more decisive about breaking down barriers, whether physical, economic or digital. We need to complete the single market.

It will only work if it is fair and equitable. Because inequality is not sustainable. In some parts of Europe we are seeing a real social emergency. Rising poverty and massive levels of unemployment, especially among our young people. That is why we must strengthen social cohesion. It is a feature that distinguishes European society from alternative models. Some say that, because of the crisis, the European social model is dead. I do not agree. Yes, we need to reform our economies and modernise our social protection systems. But an effective social protection system that helps those in need is not an obstacle to prosperity.

Now is the chance

Across the European Union, reform and consolidation measures are being implemented. Joint financial backstops are being put in place, and the European institutions have consistently shown that they stands by the Euro. I truly believe that we have a chance this autumn to come to the turning point. If Greece banishes all doubts about its commitment to reform. But also if all other countries banish all doubts about their determination to keep Greece in the Euro area, we can do it. I believe that if Greece stands by its commitments it should stay in the Euro area, as a member of the European family.

We must complete the economic and monetary union. We must create a banking union and a fiscal union and the corresponding institutional and political mechanisms.

The crisis has shown that while banks became transnational, rules and oversight remained national. Today, the Commission is presenting legislative proposals for a single European supervisory mechanism. This is the stepping stone to a banking union.

But there is a second element of a deeper economic union: it is the move towards a fiscal union. The economic decisions of one Member State impact the others. So we need stronger economic policy co-ordination. We need a stronger and more binding framework for the national decision making for key economic policies, as the only way to prevent imbalances. The Commission will publish a blueprint for deepening the economic and monetary union still this autumn.

Political union
If we want economic and monetary union to succeed, we need to combine ambition and proper sequencing. We need to take concrete steps now, with a political union as a horizon. I would like to see the development of a European public space, where European issues are discussed and debated from a European standpoint. We cannot continue trying to solve European problems just with national solutions. We must strengthen the role of the European Parliament at the European level. This also cannot be done without strengthening European political parties.

A political union also means that we must strengthen the foundations on which our Union is built: the respect for our fundamental values, for the rule of law and democracy. A political union also means doing more to fulfil our global role. Sharing sovereignty in Europe means being more sovereign in a global world. More than ever our citizens and the new world order need an active and influential Europe. A Europe that stands by its values. And a Europe that stands up for its belief that human rights are not a luxury for the developed world, they should be seen as universal values. The appalling situation in Syria reminds us that we can not afford to be by-standers. A new and democratic Syria must emerge.

Let’s not be afraid of the words: we will need to move towards a federation of nation states. This is what we need. This is our political horizon. Today, I call for a federation of nation states. Not a superstate. A democratic federation of nation states that can tackle our common problems, through the sharing of sovereignty in a way that each country and each citizen are better equipped to control their own destiny.

New treaty
Creating this federation of nation states will ultimately require a new Treaty. There must be a broad debate all over Europe. Europe can not be technocratic, bureaucratic or even diplomatic. Europe has to be ever more democratic. The role of the European Parliament is essential. This is why the European elections of 2014 can be so decisive. Before the next European Parliament elections in 2014, the Commission will present its outline for the shape of the future European Union. And we will put forward explicit ideas for Treaty change in time for a debate.

While deeper integration is indispensable for the Euro area and its members, this project should remain open to all Member States.

This is, Honourable Members, the magnitude of the decisions that we will need to make over time. We must use the 2014 election to mobilise all pro-European forces. We must not allow the populists and the nationalists to set a negative agenda. I expect all those who call themselves Europeans to stand up and to take the initiative in the debate. Because even more dangerous than the scepticism of the anti-Europeans, is the indifference or the pessimism of the pro-Europeans.

Many will say that this is too ambitious, that it is not realistic. The realistic way forward is the way that makes us stronger and more united. Realism is to put our ambition at the level of our challenges. We can do it! We should be proud to be Europeans. Proud of our rich and diverse culture. In spite of our current problems, our societies are among the most human and free in the world. So previous generations have overcome bigger challenges. Now it is for this generation to show they are up to the task.

Thank you for your attention.


– retfærdigt
cohesion – samhørighed
fiscal union – finans- og skattepolitisk union
sequencing – sekventering / rækkefølge

  • Hvilke udfordringer for EU valgte Manuel Baroso (daværende formand for EU-kommissionen) i 2012 at omtale i sin tale?
  • Hvilke svar og løsninger anbefalede han?
  • Hvad var hans besked til de politiske grupperinger (nationalister / populister), som mente (og mener) at den europæiske integrationsproces burde stoppes?

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