President Barroso on Thursday became a staple of most front pages in the Spanish newspapers after he met with the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in Brussels. The anticipated headline of their conversation was the challenges the euro is facing and how Spain and the Commission can work together for Europe to overcome the economic crisis, but Barroso took advantage of the Spanish president’s presence to push for an agenda Berlin still feels reticent about.
In the upcoming European Council, Barroso said in a speech delivered in Spanish language, “we must make important decisions on the future of the economic and monetary union, particularly about the Banking Union. In this matter, I am certain that Spain and this Commission share the same view.”
“We need a European consensus … this is vital for growth and employment. This is the message I will take to the next European Council, and I know I can also count on the support of Spain in this”, he added.
President Barroso acknowledged the “remarkable steps” taken by Madrid to achieve a sustainable economic recovery and reduce the “unacceptable” level of unemployment. He then linked their success again to the progress in a banking integration in the union: “Our common goal is stability, growth and jobs. I would like to recall that many of the measures that need to be taken are already on the table. They must now be adopted as soon as possible and implemented without delay. The Commission is working with determination, in advance of the next European Council, to help make this happen.”
To tackle big challenges like unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, Barroso stressed that short-term actions are also needed apart from structural reforms. “The Commission has led the way to have a Youth Guarantee adopted at European level, to ensure that all young people under 25 receive an offer of employment, further education or training within four months of finishing formal education or becoming unemployed – a system that has worked well in some European countries”, the European Commission president said.
He called for an urgent conclusion of the negotiations of the future EU budget so that initiatives like the Youth Employment Initiative can be implemented.
Mariano Rajoy explained that he has been implementing reforms since he came to power “out of conviction” to achieve growth, create jobs and improve the well-being of the people, and “supports the continued implementation of reforms at the fastest possible pace.”
The Spanish president agreed with Barroso that “Europe must maintain what have always been its hallmarks: greater integration and more reforms.”
Rajoy said that the meeting of the European Council at the end of the month must convey a message that progress is being made in the reform process and that there is no let up in the steps toward banking union.