PR PCE 74
Remarks by Herman Van Rompuy
President of the European Council
following the meeting with Prime Minister of Denmark,
When I was last in Copenhagen, at the beginning of this year on 9 January, Denmark had just started its Presidency of the Council. An ambitious agenda for Europe was lying in front of you. Today, after several meetings between Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and myself in Brussels, I am happy to see the first results of the Danish presidency and the skilled efforts your country puts into the European agenda.
Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt and myself had a very fruitful meeting today. We discussed two main topics: European action for growth and the preparations of the June European Council, where European leaders will discuss for the very first time the financial framework of the Union for the next years. Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt and myself share the view that combining fiscal consolidation, financial stability, structural reforms and an active growth agenda is a political priority for Europe today. Many steps to this end have been taken, many more are needed. The decisions on our priorities of the future budget of the EU will also help to shape sustainable growth.
In my letter to the 27 European leaders last month, I announced that we will hold an informal dinner on the 23 May to discuss growth, jobs and our overall strategy in Europe. The meeting builds further on the EU 2020 strategy on our previous summits such as the summit in January where we already took decisions on youth unemployment and ways to foster green growth and in March on the Single Market.
The first condition for sustainable growth in Europe is to keep up with structural reforms and smart fiscal consolidation. Reforms, such as the ones Denmark is currently undertaking. They are needed to safeguard the future of our economies and citizens.
The second condition for lasting growth is using more the full potential of our European policies in favour of growth. In this context I welcome the work of the Danish presidency on the single market, important files such as the Energy Efficiency Directive, and its efforts to bring the European patent to an end.
Thirdly, the question of financing of our economy and investments is crucial. The European tool exists already: The European Investment Bank. We need to make sure that our European bank can continue to finance as many good investments over the next few years as it has done in the recent past. A 10bn euro increase in its capital, for instance, would allow the Bank to increase lending by 60bn euro over the next three years, and to leverage investments up to 180bn euro
Last but not least, another key tool to revive growth in Europe by helping it be more competitive will be the future modernised EU budget. As compared to Member States' wealth, it is relatively small, but nonetheless it can stimulate thousands of investments be it in research, in industry, infrastructure or people. We will start discussing in detail the budgetary framework 2014-2020 at the June European Council with the aim to have it agreed before the end of the year.
These are the avenues we discussed today in view of the meeting of the European leaders in May and which should lead to a comprehensive European growth and investment pact in this year.
We also discussed the latest financial and political developments in the eurozone, and particularly Greece. I am very concerned about the situation in Greece. This is a defining moment for the country. I appeal to the sense of national responsibility of all political leaders to reach an agreement respecting the country's engagement and ensuring its European future.
Before I conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the decisions taken today by the Spanish government regarding the banking sector. They represent an important step in the effort to reinforce the banking sector and to raise confidence.