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  • ACEP Ghana Holds Stakeholder Forum On Millennium Challenge Compact ll

    03

    Nov 2014

    The extensive consultations leading to the selection of power as the binding constraint and focus for the 2nd Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC II) will have to continue into the implementation phase of the Compact.

    According to Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, Executive Director of the Ghana Chapter of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP Ghana), public consensus was required on certain conditionalities in the Compact Agreement.

     

    Dr Adam said the conditions precedent to the disbursement of Program Funding and Compact Implementation Funding— collectively referred to in the Compact as “MCC Funding”—required important policy reforms, the initiation of which, in turn, required public debate to arrive at a common decision in the interest of all Ghanaians.

    Some of the policy reforms, he said, would involve Management Reform in the Electricity Company of Ghana, Franchising or Concessions or Private Sector (PS) Asset Ownership as well as in Procurement as prescribed by the programme conditions.
    He was speaking at a multi-stakeholder forum on MCC ll in Accra, last week.

    In a presentation, Mr Ishmael Edjekumhene, Executive Director, Kumasi Institute of Technology, Energy & Environment (KITE-Ghana), criticized some of the six projects that are to be implemented under MCC ll and offered some recommendations.

    The six projects are ECG Financial and Operational Turnaround Project; Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo) Financial and Operational Turnaround Project; Regulatory Strengthening and Capacity Building Project; Access Project; Power Generation Sector Improvement Project (PIP); and the Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Management (EE/DSM) Project—all of which respond to constraints to economic growth by aiming to improve the reliability and quality of power in Ghana.

    The Access Project, for example, aims at improving access to reliable electricity among Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in selected markets and economic enclaves in urban and peri-urban areas in the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and NEDCo target regions. 

    However, according to Mr Edjekumhene, the provision of access in and of itself would not ensure that the MSMEs would be able to continue to use the electricity provided to them unless other key conditions were simultaneously provided.

    He said the major challenge faced by MSMEs, as far as electricity was concerned, was unreliability of supply and unaffordability of the tariff charged, and not access.

    He, therefore, recommended that a more conclusive analysis should be conducted, once the selected markets and targeted enclaves have been selected, and that some percentage of the earmarked funds (about 10%) could be set aside to provide holistic support to selected MSMEs with huge potential, adding that the GIZ’s Energising Development (Endev) programme could offer some useful lessons to be drawn upon in the final design of the project.

    Under the PIP, Mr Adjekumhene said activities under the project were expected to address issues related to inadequate and unreliable gas supply, lack of a gas sector master plan and credible off- taker, unco-ordinated capital expansion, as well as an unclear framework for Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

    He said while such support would be useful, they might not be sufficient to catalyse and attract the much-needed investment in the establishment of the   Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Regasification Infrastructure, which, he said, was, arguably, one of the most important infrastructure required to help secure additional natural gas supplies.

    He expressed doubts about justification for or relevance of the 3rd component of the project, considering the nature of the proposed interventions.

    Mr Adjekumhene said the proposed Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) framework to be developed and implemented was not new in Ghana, having been in use since 2004 when the Strategic National Energy Plan (SNEP) was launched.

    Furthermore, he said, the issue was not that of capacity to plan but the capacity to implement the plans, once prepared, because the Core staff at the Energy Commission (EC) who were trained in the use of the IRP were still available and that EC had already prepared model Power Purchase Agreement for conventional IPPs as for RE-based systems while a proposed IPP Solicitation Plan had been in place since 2011.

    Touching on the EE/DSM Project, he said the EE/DSM project aimed to reduce energy wastage by consumers, and was, therefore, one of the most important aspects of MCC ll, given that an estimated 30% of electricity produced in Ghana was wasted.

    However, he said, it was important to stress that the proposed interventions were not new to Ghana and that the project did not appear to give much credit to the previous achievements and progress already made in Ghana as far as energy efficiency and conservation was concerned.

    For example, he said, Ghana already had minimum efficiency standards and labels for three appliances – lighting, room air-conditioners and refrigerators.

    Mr Adjekumhene, therefore, recommended that the budgeted amount of $6.6 million should rather be channelled into implementation and enforcement of the standards.

    He said the amount could be used to support the Refrigerator Rebate Project currently being implemented by the EC with the support of the UNDP and some financial institutions.

    He also recommended that the capacity of the Energy Foundation (EF) to provide the intended services should first be assessed before any parallel capacity enhancing/training programme would be introduced, adding that It might be cost-effective to strengthen the EF to provide the services rather than creating new establishments.

    Mr Adjekumhene noted that the proposal to pilot test and demonstrate distributed applications focused on government electricity customers would not be necessary since such embedded applications had already been well-tested and demonstrated in government institutions, and, therefore, all monies earmarked for this project could be channelled into other areas.

    On the M&E Framework for EE&DSM, he said the M&E plan for this project appeared to be incomplete since it sought to track the outcome of only one of the four project activities.

    Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)

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  • In Kenya, UN chief kicks off global media campaign to end female genital mutilation

    30 October 2014 – The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) must come to a quick end and the global media can play a critical role in making that happen, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon affirmed today during his visit to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

    Speaking at the launch of the Global Media Campaign against female genital mutilation organized by the Guardian Media Group, the Secretary-General underscored the importance of placing a greater media focus on the issue, which condemns millions of girls and women to the brutal practice each year.

    “Change can happen through sustained media attention on the damaging public health consequences of FGM, as well as on the abuse of the rights of hundreds of thousands of women and girls around the world,” Mr. Ban confirmed.

    New data recently released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) shows the need for urgent action to end FGM. According to UNICEF, more than 130 million girls and women have experienced some form of female genital mutilation in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the harmful practice is most common.

    In his remarks, Mr. Ban highlighted the courage of individual activists in promoting greater awareness among at-risk girls and women, noting that sustained public pressure along with media awareness could help generate “concrete results.”

    In the United Kingdom, where over 20,000 girls are currently at risk of FGM, Mr. Ban praised the efforts of Fahma Mohamed who had secured a commitment from the Government to write to all schools warning about the dangers of the practice. Meanwhile, in the United States, where risks are similarly high among certain diaspora communities, he cited the Guardian campaign led by FGM survivor Jaha Dukereh which led the Government to promise to carry out the first national survey on FGM prevalence.

    “The mutilation of girls and women must stop in this generation – our generation,” the Secretary-General said, adding that the fight to end FGM was not solely limited to female campaigners.

    “Men and boys must also be encouraged to support the fight against FGM – and they should be praised when they do.”

    As part of its wider Organizational push to end FGM, Mr. Ban announced a new, joint UN Population Fund (UNFPA) – Guardian International FGM Reporting Award to be granted annually to an African reporter who has demonstrated “innovation and commitment” in covering FGM. The competition winner, he said, would spend two months training and working at The Guardian’s offices in London while, in Kenya, another five joint UNFPA-Guardian FGM Reporting Grants would also be awarded to the country’s leading media houses to help support their reporting on FGM.

    “Ending FGM is part of the UN’s unwavering campaign for the health, human rights and empowerment of women and girls,” said Mr. Ban. “We salute the girls and women who have fought against FGM and reclaimed their bodies. We now need them to be the norm rather than the exception.”

    The Secretary-General’s visit to Kenya is the fourth stop in a visit to the Horn of Africa aimed at promoting development and consolidating peace and security across the wider region. The trip unites the capacities of the UN, World Bank, European Union, Islamic Development Bank, and African Development Bank and targets a swathe of countries in the Horn of Africa, spanning Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, with an $8 billion development initiative.

    During his visit to Nairobi, Mr. Ban and other senior UN officials also met with the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, as over 42 African countries adopted a new “historic” framework aimed at setting in motion the continent’s sustainable transport transition, a press release from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced.

    The framework, formulated at the Africa Sustainable Transport Forum (ASTF), organized by UNEP, the World Bank, and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport in Africa by encouraging governments to adopt a comprehensive approach that aims to promote the use of low-emission non-motorized transport, the development of quality public transport and increase investment in clean technologies.

    Pollution from transport is an increasingly insidious problem, particularly as data indicates that global air population kills an estimated 7 million people annually.

    The World Bank warns that the transport sector produces roughly 23 per cent of the global CO2 emissions from fuel combustion. More “alarmingly,” notes the World Bank, transportation is the fastest growing consumer of fossil fuels and the fastest growing source of CO2 emissions.

    Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, welcomed the adopted framework, stating that it provided “a window of opportunity to mitigate climate change threats and ensure the health and well-being of millions of Africans by introducing clean and efficient transportation.”

    “The ASTF Framework will provide the platform for Africa’s decision-makers to share best practices, coordinate sustainable transport efforts and provide focus to development planning to transition its transport sector into one that is more resource-efficient, environmentally sound and cost-effective for its ambitious and increasingly mobile population,” he stated.

    Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, agreed. “The ASTF Framework, and the bi-annual ASTF meetings, will allow leaders to share knowledge and best practices, while acting as a mechanism for funding and investment for sustainable transport infrastructure across the region.”

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  • Leaders Commit Billions in Major New Development Initiative for the Horn of Africa

    UN Secretary-General, WBG and IsDBG Presidents, and other Agency Heads Visit Region to Link Peace Efforts with Economic Progress

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, October 27, 2014—Leaders of global and regional institutions today begin an historic trip to the Horn of Africa to pledge political support and major new financial assistance for countries in the region, totaling more than $8 billion over the coming years. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the World Bank Group (WBG) President, Jim Yong Kim, as well as the President of the Islamic Development Bank Group and high level representatives of the African Union Commission, the European Union, the African Development Bank, and Intergovernmental Agency for Development (IGAD) are combining forces to promote stability and development in the Horn of Africa.

    On the first day of the joint trip, the World Bank Group announced a major new financial pledge of $1.8 billion for cross-border activities in a Horn of Africa Initiative that will boost economic growth and opportunity, reduce poverty, and spur business activity.

    The initiative covers the eight countries in the Horn of Africa — Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda.

    “This new financing represents a major new opportunity for the people of the Horn of Africa to make sure they get access to clean water, nutritious food, health care, education, and jobs,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “There is greater opportunity now for the Horn of Africa to break free from its cycles of drought, food insecurity, water insecurity, and conflict by building up regional security, generating a peace dividend, especially among young women and men, and spurring more cross-border cooperation.”

    Leading the trip to the Horn of Africa, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said “The countries of the Horn of Africa are making important yet unheralded progress in economic growth and political stability. Now is a crucial moment to support those efforts, end the cycles of conflict and poverty, and move from fragility to sustainability. The United Nations is joining with other global and regional leaders to ensure a coherent and coordinated approach towards peace, security and development in the Horn of Africa.”

    The European Union also announced that it would support the countries in the region with a total of around $3.7 billion until 2020, of which about 10 percent would be for cross-border activities; the African Development Bank announced a pledge of $1.8 billion over the next three years for countries of the Horn of Africa region; while the Islamic Development Bank committed to deploy up to $1 billion in new financing in its four member countries in the Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda).

    The Horn is diverse, with some of the fastest growing economies and huge untapped natural resources. However, it also has many extraordinarily poor people and populations that are now doubling every 23 years. Unemployment is widespread among growing numbers of young people. Women, in particular, face huge obstacles because of their gender, including limited land rights, limited education, and social customs that often thwart their ability to pursue economic opportunity, and improve living conditions for their families and communities.

    Countries in the region are also vulnerable to corruption, piracy, arms and drug trafficking. Terrorism, and related money flows are significant and interconnected threats in the Horn of Africa. People-trafficking is also a growing problem in the region. However, there are commendable efforts being made through regional cooperation in parts of the Horn to tackle the root causes of these problems.

    The new financing announcement will support those efforts and comes on the first day of the trip led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to discuss peace, security, and resilience. In addition to the UN Secretary-General, other leaders making the trip are World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim; Islamic Development Bank Group President Ahmad Mohamed Ali; African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha; Intergovernmental Agency for Development (IGAD) Executive Secretary, Ambassador Mahboub Maalim; African Development Bank Group Special Advisor to the President, Youssouf Ouedraogo; Deputy Director General for Development and Cooperation, European Commission, Marcus Cornaro and European Union Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, Alexander Rondos.

    The World Bank Group said its new $1.8 billion packaging, which is in addition to its existing development programs for the eight countries, would create more economic opportunity throughout the region for some of the most vulnerable peoples, including refugees and internally displaced populations and their host communities. Wars and instability have generated more than 2.7 million refugees along with over 6 million internally displaced people. The Bank Group will also help the region build up its communicable disease surveillance, diagnosis, and treatment capacity.

    Many of these diseases are associated with or exacerbated by poverty, displacement, malnutrition, illiteracy, and poor sanitation and housing. Increased cross-border trade and economic activity in the Horn of Africa will necessitate simultaneous investments in strengthening disease control efforts and outbreak preparedness.

    The Bank Group will also support greater regional links between countries with regional transport routes, stronger ICT and broadband connectivity, more competitive private sector markets, increased cross-border trade, regional development of oil and gas through pipeline development, and the expansion of university and other tertiary education.

    The Bank Group’s pledge includes $600 million from the IFC, its private sector arm, which will support economic development in the countries of the Horn. IFC investments under the new Horn Initiative will include a regional pipeline linking Uganda and Kenya; greater investment in agribusiness expansion in storage, processing, and seeds; possible public-private partnerships in pharmaceuticals, renewable energy and transport; and financial advice and support to government and companies to improve business confidence and investment, access to markets, and access to private finance. Another $200 million is for guarantees against political risks from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.

    A new World Bank Group paper forecasts that the Horn will undergo dramatic and lasting change when oil production starts in Kenya, Uganda, and possibly Somalia and Ethiopia.

    For its part, the European Union’s Horn of Africa approach is based on a strategic framework adopted in 2011. Support programs for 2014-2020 will be guided by the same analysis that underpins the World Bank’s Horn of Africa Initiative and will focus on the development challenges that must be tackled to unlock the region’s considerable potential. EU support will mostly target the three pillars of the Horn of Africa Initiative: boosting growth, reducing poverty by promoting resilience, and creating economic opportunities.

    “The EU stands ready to further deepen its long-standing partnership with the Horn of Africa – helping to build robust and accountable political structures, enhancing trade and economic cooperation, financing peace keeping activities and providing humanitarian assistance and development cooperation,” said European Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs prior to the trip.

    Other leaders on the trip said that the Horn of Africa region needs new development assistance in order to secure peace and opportunity to thrive and prevent future conflicts.

    The Islamic Development Bank Group said its new financing for Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda over 2015-2017 would focus on critical infrastructure development, food security, human development, and trade. A further $2 billion could be provided by the Arab Coordination Group over the same period.

    Commenting on this announcement, Islamic Development Bank Group President Ahmad Mohamed Ali said “The Horn of Africa is an important gateway to Africa and a bridge to Western Asia. Bringing stability and sustainable development to the Horn of Africa will undoubtedly significantly contribute to stability across the entire African continent. The Islamic Development Bank Group salutes this renewed focus on the Horn of Africa and stands ready to work with all partners, including the Arab Coordination Group, to support regional cooperation and the economic revival of the Horn of Africa, especially in its four member countries.”

    “Given the complexity of the environment prevailing in the region, we must convince ourselves that it is not the financial means that will win in the Horn of Africa region, but our commitment and determination to act under the leadership of the countries in a united and coordinated manner,” said African Development Bank Group Representative, Youssouf Ouedraogo, Special Advisor to the President.

    African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson, Erastus Mwencha, added, “Our efforts to create peace and stability must be reinforced by investments in the peoples and countries of the Horn.”

    A new WBG regional study on the Horn of Africa released today at the start of the trip found reasons for hope for the region: “Despite the challenges the Horn of Africa faces, there are encouraging signs of political momentum for enhanced regional economic interdependence. Increasingly, Horn of Africa countries are members of the East African Community, IGAD in Eastern Africa, and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa. Some countries are showing strong political will to solve both security and development issues through increased cooperation—for example, many have sent troops to participate in peace-keeping efforts and have participated in diplomatic initiatives.”

    “This mission is the apex of an ambitious partnership approach that will provide the necessary instruments to strengthen the resilience agenda in the IGAD region,” said IGAD Executive Secretary, Ambassador Mahboub Maalim.

    For the UN’s Ban and World Bank’s Kim, this is their third trip in 18 months together to Africa. In 2013, the two travelled to the Great Lakes and Sahel regions, drawing attention to the need to promote both peace and development. During the two previous trips, Kim pledged $2.7 billion for regional projects for programs to improve health, education, nutrition, access to energy, and job training. To see the results of these previous peace and development regional initiatives, visit: http://www.worldbank.org/en/region/afr/brief/world-bank-group-sahel-and-great-lakes-initiatives

    To see the new WBG regional paper on the Horn of Africa, please visit: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2014/10/20316926/

    World Bank Contacts:   Phil Hay mobile: +1 (202) 492-7238, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    In Addis Ababa:               Gelila Woodeneh, work: +223 20 22 2283/22 3201, mobile: +223-76 04 7373, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    UN Contacts:                 Vannina Maestracci, phone: 1-917-367-0293, mobile: 1-917-855-3143, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    EU Contacts:                  Sven Ruesch, phone: +32 2 295 87 59, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Islamic Dev Bank:          Muhammad Jameel Yusha’u, phone: +966-12-646 6492; mobile: +966-59-11 88 844, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    AUC Contacts:               Habiba Mejri-Cheikh, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    AfDB Contacts:              Joel Serunkuma Kibazo, work: +225-20262024, mobile: +225-01229898, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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  • شركة سولار ريزيرف تتقدم في قيادة قطاع الطاقة الشمسية الحرارية باستحواذها على التكنولوجيا

    الشركة تعلن استحواذها على شركة إيروجيت روكيتداينالمكثفة للطاقة الشمسية، بما في ذلك حقوق الملكية الفكرية والبراءات المتعلقة بالملح المنصهر للطاقة الشمسية الحرارية سانتا مونيكا، كاليفورنيا، 27 تشرين الأول/أكتوبر، 2014 / بي آر نيوزواير/ ایشیانیٹ باکستان — أعلنت شركة “سولار ريزيرف” SolarReserve، وهي شركة عالمية رائدة في تطوير مشاريع الطاقة الشمسية الكهربائية الواسعة النطاق وتقنيات الطاقة […]

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  • SolarReserve Advances Leadership In Solar Thermal Energy With Technology Acquisition

    – Company announces acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) business, including the intellectual property (IP) rights and patents related to molten salt technology for solar thermal power SANTA MONICA, California, Oct. 27, 2014 / PRNewswire / Asianet-Pakistan — SolarReserve, a leading global developer of large-scale solar power projects and advanced solar thermal technology, […]

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  • Two Europes or One Europe?

    European Commission

    [Check Against Delivery]

    José Manuel Durão Barroso

    President of the European Commission

    Valedictory speech by President Barroso

    European Parliament plenary session

    Strasbourg, 21 October 2014

    Mr President, Honourable Members,

    First of all, I would like to thank you for the invitation to address this Parliament in what would be the last time I have this opportunity. In fact, we are coming to the end of my second mandate as the President of the European Commission and I am very happy to be here with you and my colleagues to present to you our bilan, since this is my second Commission, I think I can also refer to the last ten years.

    I want to share with you my feelings, my emotions, what I think about the way the European Union has responded to these very challenging times and what I think are the most important challenges for the future.

    I think you can agree with me that these have been exceptional and challenging times. Ten years of crisis, and response of the European Union to this crisis. Not only the financial and sovereignty debt crisis – let’s not forget at the beginning of my first mandate we had a constitutional crisis, when two founding members of the European Union rejected, in referenda, the Constitutional Treaty. So we had a constitutional crisis, we had a sovereign debt and financial crisis, and in the most acute terms we now have a geopolitical crisis, as a result of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

    The constitutional crisis that we had was in fact solved through the Lisbon Constitutional Treaty. The reality is that at that time, many people were saying that it would be impossible for the European Union to find a new institutional setting. And in fact there were moments of ambiguity and doubt. But basically, we could keep most of the acquis of the European Union, including most of the new elements of the Lisbon Constitutional Treaty, which was ratified by all Member States including those that today seem to have forgotten that they have ratified the Lisbon Treaty.

    More recently – because I learned to leave to the end the economic issues because they are still with us – we had this very serious challenge and threat to our stability, in Europe, coming from the unacceptable behaviour of Russia regarding Ukraine. And we took a principled position. We offered Ukraine an association agreement and a free trade agreement and I am happy that, in spite of all the difficulties, Ukraine was there, signing and ratifying the association agreement, and I want to congratulate this Parliament, because the same day at the same hour the Parliament in Ukraine was ratifying this agreement, you were also ratifying the agreement showing you can offer hope to Ukraine as part of the European family of nations.

    At the moment I am speaking to you, this crisis is not yet solved – we know that. But I think we can be proud that we have kept a position of principle, that we have condemned in the most unequivocal terms the actions of Russia and that in fact an association agreement was ratified, not only with Ukraine, but also with Georgia and Moldova because I believe we have a duty to those countries that are looking to Europe with their spirit and their hope to share with us the same future and because they want to share with us the same values.

    At this moment we are still mediating and, today, there is a meeting mediated by the Commission on energy with the Russian government and the Ukrainian government, so a political negotiated solution is possible, we are working for that. It is in the interest of all the parties to have a political agreement, but a political agreement that respects the principles of international law, a political agreement that respects the right of country that is our neighbour to decide its own future and a political agreement that respects the sovereignty, the independence of that country. So, we should be proud of what we have been doing in this very challenging geopolitical crisis.

    And we also had the financial and sovereign debt crisis. The reality is that the crisis was not born in Europe, but the fact is that because we were not prepared, because the Euro-area had not yet the instruments, we were very much affected by it – not only in financial terms, in economic terms, in social terms and in political terms. I think this crisis was probably the biggest since the beginning of the European integration process in the 50s of the last century. Let’s now put things into perspective.

    Dear Members of Parliament,

    Let’s remind ourselves what was the main opinion of most analysts in the economic and financial media, or even many of our countries or outside of Europe, about what could happen: everybody was predicting Greek exit, Greece exiting the Euro, and, of course, Greece exiting Euro would certainly, immediately have had a cascading effect in other countries, a domino effect that was indeed already felt in countries such as Ireland or Portugal. But let’s not forget, Spain was also under very heavy pressure, and Italy. We were staring into the abyss. I remember well what happened in discussions in the margins of G20 in Cannes in 2011, I remember well when analysts were predicting with almost unanimity a Greek exit and at least 50% of them were predicting the implosion of the Euro. And what happened? Not only was there no exit of the Euro, now we are to welcome the 19th member of the Euro, Lithuania will join us in the 1st of January 2015. And not only did Greece not leave the Euro area, it has enlarged and the European Union has been enlarging as well. This is a point that has been very much underestimated in our analysis.

    2004, the year I had the pleasure and the honour to assume the leadership of the European Commission, do you remember that we were 15? Today, we have 28 countries. So we have almost doubled the membership of the European Union during this crisis. Is there a better proof of the resilience and the capacity of adaptation of our Union? The fact that we were able to remain united and open during the crisis I think confirms the extraordinary resilience and the strength of the European Union and this should not be underestimated.

    I know that, for some, these things do not count for much. They are in a way making an idealisation of the past; they dream probably of a closed Europe; they think Europe was better when half of Europe was under totalitarian communism. I don’t think that. I think Europe today is better than when half of Europe was under communism. The fact that the European Union was able, during all this crisis, to open, to consolidate and to unite on a continental scale almost all of Europe around the values of peace, of freedom and of justice, I think it is a great thing we should commemorate and not to be ashamed of, as some seem to be.

    So, this is I think also a reason to commemorate. Many people were predicting, as you probably remember, those of you following these issues at that time, that the European Commission would not be able to function with 25 or 27 or 28 Members, that the European Union would be blocked. The reality is that the European Union was not blocked by the enlargement; the reality that I can share with you now is that sometimes it was more difficult to put together some of the founding Members of the Union than all the 28 countries of Europe.

    So I think we should be proud of that as well, collectively, because the European Union was able to remain united and open during the crisis. And when I say open, I mean it in all senses of the word, including with an open attitude towards the world. For instance, when we have promoted a proactive climate agenda after the failure of the Doha Development Round and the Doha trade talks. And we are now leading in that sense, because I believe that trade can be one of the best ways to support growth globally and in the European Union. Or when we, because it was an initiative of the European Union, went to the former President of the United States of America, inviting him and convincing him to organise the first G20 meeting at Heads of State or Government level, because that was a way of having a global cooperative approach and to avoid the return to ugly, nasty protectionism. That could be a temptation in times of crisis. So we were able to keep Europe not only united and, in fact, enlarging its membership, but also open to the rest of the world.

    But now, are we stronger or are we weaker? I know that the most critical people today will say that we are weaker. But are we really?

    In fact, when the crisis erupted, we had almost no instruments to respond to it. We were facing, as it was said at that time, an unprecedented crisis. Yet we had no mechanisms, for instance to support the countries that were facing the immediate threat of default. A lot has been done. We have collectively, the Commission and the Member States and always with the strong support of the Parliament, we have created a new system of governance. We have today a much more reinforced governance system than before, including with unprecedented powers for the community institutions, and we have done everything to keep the community method at the centre of our integration. For instance, the Commission today has more powers in terms of governance of the Eurozone than before the crisis. The European Central Bank has today the possibility to make direct supervision of the banks in Europe, something that would have been considered impossible earlier; it would have been almost unimaginable before the crisis. And I remember when we spoke about the banking union, when I gave an interview saying that we need a banking union, I received some phone calls from capitals saying ‘Why are you speaking about the banking union? This is not in the Treaties’. And I responded, ‘Yes it is not in the Treaties, but we need it if we want to fulfil the objective of the Treaties, namely the objective of stability and growth’. And today we have a banking union.

    Honourable members,

    If we look at things in perspective and we think where we were ten years ago and where we are now, we can say with full rigour and in complete observance of the truth that today the European Union, at least in the euro area, is more integrated and with reinforced competences, and we have now, through the community method, more ways to tackle crisis, namely in the euro zone. Not only in the system of governance in the banking union, but also in the legislation of financial stability, financial regulation, financial supervision.

    We have presented around 40 new pieces of legislation that were all of them approved by the European Parliament. And once again I want to thank you, because in almost all those debates the European Parliament and the European Commission were on the same side of the debate and were for more ambition, not less ambition for Europe. And so today, I can say that we are stronger, because we have a more integrated system of governance, because we have legislation to tackle abuses in the financial markets, because we have much clearer system of supervision and regulation. So, I think we are now better prepared than we were before to face a crisis, if a crisis like the ones we have seen before should come in the future.

    Of course, you can say that there are many difficulties still. Yes, and I am going to say a word about this in a moment regarding the prospects for growth, but please do not forget where we were. We were very close to default, or, to use a less polite word, to a bankruptcy of some of our Member States. And look at where we are now. From the countries that had to ask for adjustment programmes, Portugal and Ireland exited the programme successfully. Ireland is now one of the fastest growing countries in Europe. And in fact all the others that were under the imminent threat of collapsing, are now in a much more stable mood. Spain, that asked for a programme for the banks, also has improved successfully. So in fact only two countries of all those, because we should not also forget the Central and Eastern European countries that also had adjustment programmes, even if they were not yet in the euro area, only two countries are still completing their adjustment programmes.

    The deficits now on average in the Eurozone are 2.5%. This is much less than in the United States or in Japan. So, in terms of stability, we are much better now than before. By the way, the Eurozone has a trade surplus. The European Union in general now will have a surplus in goods, in services and, for the first time in many years, in agriculture.

    I am saying that because very often the opinion in some of the political sectors is that we are losing with globalisation. This is not the case. Some countries of our Union in fact are not winning that battle, but on average we can say that Europe is gaining the global battle in terms of competition, namely in terms of trade and investment.

    But of course, growth is still timid. I think that basically we cannot say that the crisis is completely over, because threats remain, but we have won the battle of stability. Today nobody in the world will honestly bet on the end of the euro. The euro has shown that it is a very strong, credible and indeed stable currency. The reality is that our growth is still timid and clearly below expectations.

    So what can we do for growth? This is the important question. And for that I need to make a reminder once again. I know very well that very often the European Union policy and namely the European Commission policy has been presented as completely focused on austerity. I think this is a caricature.

    We have constantly asked at least for three important lines – fiscal consolidation certainly, for the countries that are feeling the pressure of the markets. It would be completely irresponsible if they could not frontload a programme of rigour to correct their public finances, but we have always said with equal vigour, probably some would not like to listen, the need for structural reforms, for competitiveness, because the reality is that even before the crisis we were growing under our potential, that is the reality, and with serious problem of lack of competitiveness in some of our countries and so that is why we needed more ambitious structural reforms.

    But we have also argued in favour of investment. I have always said that we need more investment, public and private investment. Private investment will come the more we show that we have competitive economies that we can attract private investment. Indeed I am now happy to see that most of our countries, certainly at a different pace, but they are pursuing ambitious structural reforms that would have been considered completely impossible before the crisis.

    And the reality is, if we want to be honest in terms of the analysis that the countries that have suffered the most during the financial crisis were precisely those that have lost in terms of cost competitiveness before the crisis. And now, for instance the reforms that have been made by Spain, by Ireland, by Portugal, by Greece, are impressive.

    Now, apart from the political consolidation and the structural reforms, we have always seen the need for more investment. Private investment, but public investment as well. You will remember the debate about the MFF. President Schultz remembers certainly. We were together in many meetings asking the Member States to do more in terms of investment and the most important instrument we have at European level for investment is the Multiannual Financial Framework, that is around one trillion euros.

    So if there is not more ambitious investment it was not because of a lack of ambition of this Commission, or a lack of ambition of this Parliament. It was because of the opposition of some capitals. This is the reality. We are for solid investment, targeted investment for growth. Not only with the MFF. Remember the proposals that for instance here in the State of the Union speeches with you I have put forward. The increase of the capital for the EIB that finally was agreed. The project bonds that the Member States have accepted, but only as pilot project bonds. The facility that we have created for SMEs with loans from the EIB and funds from the structural funds, from our budget. Unfortunately only two countries wanted to pursue that line.

    Or, for instance, the programme for youth, the Youth Guarantee that we have proposed and that the Member States have agreed. But now with the Youth Employment Initiative, only two countries have accepted to have a dedicated programme for youth employment.

    So, my dear colleagues, let’s be clear: we are for investment. I wish all the best to the new Commission and to my friend and colleague Jean-Claude Juncker, to have the support of the Member States for a more ambitious investment programme for the next years. I believe this is possible now, I believe the awareness is much bigger on this matter. But once again this is part of a comprehensive strategy that combines fiscal consolidation with structural reforms and investment, and, of course, all the measures taken by us in terms of the banking union and in terms of financial regulation for stability.

    And I’m saying this with this vigour because I think it would be now a mistake, after everything we have done, to give up, to show less determination, to abandon the road of structural reform. I think we have done a part of the job, stability is broadly there, growth, even if it is slower than what we would like to have, but now we need determination to complete the reforms so that sustainable growth, not growth fuelled by debt, excessive public or private debt – because such growth is artificial, it’s a fictional growth, and afterwards, sooner or later, we would pay the price – but sustainable growth – that I believe it is possible if we continue the courageous path of reforms and a stronger governance for the European Union.

    I don’t have the time now to go over all the other policies we have been developing over the years. But let me just highlight one or two, because I think they are very much at the moment of decision, and I think they are important.

    I’m extremely proud that is was my Commission in my first mandate, in 2007, that put forward the most ambitious programme for climate protection in the world. And we are still leading in the world in terms of the climate agenda.

    In fact, we were able to join the climate agenda with the energy security agenda, and I’m saying that because this week we are going to have an important discussion in Brussels at Heads of State and Government level, and I hope that the European Union will keep its leadership role – of course not to be isolated but to have others, because we have a responsibility towards our planet. And this is was certainly one of the great advances of these years, that the European Union was able to make the most important and bold steps in terms of fighting climate change.

    Another area where I think we could very proud is – in spite of all the restrictions because of our financial situation – that it was possible in the MFF to get 30% more for Horizon 2020, for research and technology. I think there is a great opportunity now for us to do more in that area, as also in the culture side, with our Creative Europe programme.

    The reality is that in some areas it was possible, in spite of the economic and financial crisis, to increase investment at European level.

    But I’m also very proud that in spite of the pressures of our budgets, we could always be there in terms of development aid and neighbourhood policy.

    Whenever there was a big tragedy in the world, from the tsunami in Indonesia to the recent Ebola crisis, from the Syrian refugee crisis to Darfur, we were there, we were among the first. And I think we, Europeans, should also be proud of that, because we are still, together with our Member States, the most important donor for development aid in the world. That is something that corresponds very much to our values and I’m happy that in spite of all the crises we did not abandon our obligations in terms of development cooperation.

    I have already said a word about trade. I think it is very important to keep an ambitious trade agenda, an open Europe but for free and fair trade. And the Commission has concluded a record number of agreements, not only with South Korea, Singapore, Central America – the first region to reach an agreement -, Peru, Ecuador, recently with Canada, with Western Africa, Eastern Africa and Southern Africa. And I could also mention some others that are now progressing, like Japan, the United States and also an investment agreement with China.

    So we are the most important trade bloc in the world. We are the biggest economy in the world.

    And I’m saying that because today I know it’s very fashionable the pessimism, the defeatism about Europe, what I call the intellectual glamour of pessimism. But I believe that we have a good record to show and I believe that together, collectively, we are much stronger and we can better defend our interests and protect our values.

    Dear colleagues – I call you colleagues because I believe we have been sometimes in discussions but we have been colleagues in this great enterprise that is the European project -, I think politically we have some lessons to draw.

    One is that we have shown great resilience. I think we can say that the forces of integration are stronger than the forces of disintegration. And I believed that day and night, sometimes in very dramatic moments, sometimes when I had to make dramatic appeals to some capitals: to the richer countries, asking them to show more solidarity; and to the poorer countries asking them to show more responsibility.

    Sometimes we have done it very discretely, it’s true. The European Commission is probably more discreet than others. I did not want the Commission to be part of the cacophony of different voices during the most acute moments of the crisis. It was extremely market sensitive that situation. But I can tell you, in my full conscience, that we have done everything we could with existing instruments to avoid the fragmentation of the euro or to avoid a division in the European Union. And I very often had to call on my colleagues in the European Council, Heads of State and Government, to show the ethics of European responsibility.

    But one of the lessons I draw from this is that if eventually it was possible to come to decisions, it is true that it was sometimes extremely painful and difficult. And took time. We have said also, and I think it is something that we can all agree: democracy is slower than the markets are.

    The Commission would have preferred, and I’m sure this Parliament as well, decisions to be bolder, more comprehensive, faster. But we are a Union of democratic states, we are not a super state. And we have to respect different sensitivities.

    One of the conclusions I draw from these ten years of experiences is the need to cooperate between institutions. I know sometimes it is more popular to put forward impossible ideas and to criticise others. But I firmly believe that we need to engage with different institutions, that it is not a solution to oppose the countries to the European Union. On the contrary, we have to show to our countries that they are stronger if they are part of the European Union. That we are not diluting their national identity but, on the contrary, we are asking them to share their sovereignty so they can project better their interests globally. I’m firmly convinced of this.

    And I’m saying this to you now, as I am leaving in a few days: my only interest is that these lessons are learned so that we do not repeat some mistakes in the future. At the same time, I think we can say that it is not through confrontation but through cooperation that we can attain our objectives.

    At the moment I prepare to hand over this very challenging and interesting job to my good friend Jean-Claude Juncker, I want to say here, on my behalf and on behalf of all my colleagues of the Commission, that we wish the new Commission all the best, that they have a great challenge ahead of them but that they could count also on our support. And I’m sure of the support that this Parliament is going to give to them.

    Because, Mr President, the relations were not always perfect. But I think you can agree that we were able to establish a fruitful relationship between the Parliament and the Commission.

    I’ve been in this Parliament more than 100 times. There was never a Commission that was so often represented in the Parliament as my two Commissions. We have established this cooperation and I’m so grateful because this Parliament, sometimes with very strong demands, was always supportive of the community method, was always supporting the community institutions. And I believe this is very important for the future of Europe.

    My dear colleagues of the European project,

    The way to solve the problems we have in Europe is not through revolution and even less through counter-revolution. It’s by compromise, it’s by reform. Evolution and reform. We have to reform to adapt to the new challenges but not with new clashes between the institutions, not with clashes against our countries. And I believe that if this idea of strong cooperation putting the European common good above all else, I think my colleague and friend Jean-Claude Juncker and his new Commission will have success, of course based on the support I’m sure you are going to give them.

    Because the European Union is a union of values. In these last days I had to face many journalists and they asked me ‘what was your most emotional moment? Which moment did you prefer?’ And I have many, and I also had very difficult ones, to be honest. But one of my most emotional moment was when, on behalf of the European Union, together with Martin Schulz and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, we received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the European Union.

    I think this was a powerful reminder sent to us from the global community that we count in this world and that what we do is very important. That the values that were at the origin of the creation of our Union, namely the value of peace, are still at our essence today. And that we have to fight for them.

    And I think is the moment I really said I want to share with all those in the different institutions, including this Parliament, that have been working for a united, open and stronger Europe. And when I leave this office, with all my colleagues at the Commission, I can tell you that we have not achieved everything we could, or everything we would have liked to have achieved, but I think we have worked with the right conscience, putting the global interest of the European Union above specific interests. And I believe that now there are conditions to continue to do work for a united, open and stronger Europe.

    I thank you for your attention.

    Auf wiedersehen, goodbye, au revoir, adeus.

    Muito obrigado, thank you very much.

    Following the statements of the Members of the Parliament, President Barroso made the following closing remarks:

    Mr President,

    I should like to take up a number of the points raised by the previous speakers. Firstly, I believe that proof that we – and by “we” I mean the Commission of which I have had the honour of being Presidentare on the right track lies in the fact that the criticisms have come from the opposite ends of the spectrum, though often couched in the same terms, resolutely ignoring the difficulties and extraordinary challenges that we have had to face and failing to put forward any coherent response.

    The truth is that we have been through possibly the worst economic and financial crisis we have seen since the countries of Europe began to come together and that it was not the European Union or Europe that spawned the crisis. This is what some defenders of national sovereignty, as they like to call themselves, do not or will not understand. It was not Europe that created excessive private debt or caused the financial sector to behave irresponsibly. Quite the opposite – this all took place under national scrutiny, or rather lack thereof. Europe is the answer. We now have one of the most ambitious regulatory and supervisory systems in the world, if not the most ambitious. In other words, saying that Europe is worse off because of the European Union is simply not true. It shows a complete lack of respect and a lack of intellectual rigour. Europe is not responsible for the financial crisis, which had its roots in the United States. Europe had its weaknesses, but what the European Union did was to respond. The blame for this does not lie with the European Union, and I believe this is something that all those who share the European ideal – be they at the left, right or centre of the political spectrum – should have the courage to state, because by remaining silent we will be reinforcing the populist rhetoric of the extreme right and extreme left.

    I listened carefully to those of you who said that populism was on the rise and who laid the blame for this at the door of the European Union. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not true. It is abundantly clear that populism and xenophobia exist outside the European Union. Look at the anti-immigrant incidents that have taken place in Switzerland. Look at what happened in Norway when that terrorist killed all those young people because he was opposed to a multicultural Europe. Look at the Tea Party movement in the United States. Is Europe to blame for America’s Tea Party movement?

    We are currently seeing an aggressive form of populism around the world, which espouses arguments from both the left and the right. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference. So to say the European Union is responsible for this shows a lack of intellectual rigour and a lack of political integrity. What we have to do, as Europeans, is to demonstrate that it was not Europe that caused the crisis or the public debt in the Member States. There was little that Europe could do when, for example, one Member State falsified its accounts. This is something Europe had to face. The first initiative of my second Commission was to ask the Member States to give us more powers to supervise national statistics, because in my first Commission this was rejected. And not by Greece. It was rejected by the big Member States, which were reluctant to hand more powers over to the European Union. So if we really want to have a debate, let us be quite clear and strict in terms of intellectual integrity and political candour.

    Ladies and gentlemen, there is one thing that I would like to say to you with the greatest of conviction. The team that I have had the honour of heading has worked with enormous commitment and diligence, whilst always putting Europe’s interests first. There is something that I want to say to you, since this is a political assembly with a wealth of political dynamics, but where the emphasis is always on the common European good. My Commission was not made up of colleagues from the EPP, socialists or liberals. It was made up of people who worked for Europe. My party is the EPP and I am proud of that, but, as President of the Commission, my party is Europe and that is the message I wish to convey, in particular to the major forces of the pro-European centre-left and centre-right.  Differences must, of course, be aired, but they must not be allowed to weaken the pro-European camps. We cannot hand the extreme right or extreme left anything else on a plate. Pro-European forces must come together. They must have the courage to defend Europe. They must do so at national level, and not just here in Strasbourg. We need a major coalition of this nature for Europe because I believe that we have the strength to win the battles of the present and those of the future.

    Thank you very much for your attention.

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  • Setting Europe in Motion: President-elect Juncker’s Main Messages from his speech before the European Parliament

    European Commission

    [Check Against Delivery]

    Jean-Claude Juncker

    President-elect of the European Commission

    Setting Europe in Motion: President-elect Juncker’s Main Messages from his speech before the European Parliament

    Statement in the European Parliament plenary session ahead of the vote on the College

    Strasbourg, 22 October 2014

    Time for Action

    “From Ukraine to Syria, to the Middle East and North Africa, our neighbourhood remains shaky and unstable. Scores of immigrants arriving at Europe’s external frontiers in search of a better future remind us of the need to reconcile the quest of solidarity with the demand for safe borders. And cross-border health threats like the Ebola epidemic have seized citizens with an understandable degree of fear.

    We cannot and will not sweep these mounting problems under the carpet. We cannot and will not turn a blind eye. That is why I insist that the time for European action is now. That is why I state loud and clear in front of this House that Europe’s problems cannot be put on the back burner.”

    Breaking out of Silo Mentalities

    When I presented my new team on 10 September, I wanted to show that I wish to deliver quickly and effectively. That is why my Commission will not only look different but will also work differently. Not as the sum of its parts, but as a team. Not through silo mentalities, clusters and portfolio frontiers, but as a collegiate, political body. I want a political, executive Commission at the service of the common good and of Europe’s citizens.”

    Addressing Concerns

    “The hearings have revealed a broad consensus around the team that I have proposed. You have, however, also expressed some concerns – during the hearings and in your contacts with me. I am ready to swiftly address the issues that you identified as relevant to the functioning of the new Commission.

    I listened to you carefully and will briefly explain how I want to address your concerns on a number of issues:

    • A new Slovenian Commissioner, Violeta Bulc, passed her hearing in record time. This was possible thanks to the portfolio changes completed without any delay. Violeta will be responsible for the Transport portfolio, while Maroš Šefčovič, an experienced member of the outgoing Commission, will be Vice-President in charge of Energy Union.

    • I have decided to enlarge Frans Timmermans’ remit to include the horizontal responsibility for sustainable development. As you know, sustainable development is a principle enshrined in the EU Treaties (Article 3 TEU) and should thus be taken into account by all institutions in all their actions and policies. It is also part of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights for which Frans is horizontally in charge. Sustainability and environmental concerns are important to our citizens. We have the tools to address them in the new Commission: with powerful green portfolios that have big budgets and regulatory teeth.

    • Responsibility for medicines and pharmaceutical products will stay with the Directorate-General for Health because I agree with you that medicines are not goods like any other. The relevant policy will be developed jointly by Vytenis Andriukaitis and by Elżbieta Bieńkowska, who showed her incredible talents in her hearing.

    • Space policy can make an important contribution to the further development of a strong industrial basis in Europe – one of the priorities of my Commission. It is for this reason that I have decided it will remain in the remit of the Directorate-General for the Internal Market and Industry, in the safe hands of Elżbieta Bieńkowska.

    • Last but not least, I have decided to place Citizenship under the responsibility of Dimitris Avramopoulos Commissioner in charge of Migration and Home Affairs – issues, very close to the heart of Europe’s citizens – who will work in close cooperation on this matter with Justice and Consumers Commissioner Vera Jourova. I wish at the same time to reiterate my confidence and trust in Tibor Navracsics who performed excellently in his hearing and demonstrated a strong European commitment – which is why you considered him qualified as Commissioner.”

    Investor-to-state disputes

    I took note of the intense debates around investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. Let me once again state my position clearly, that I had set out on 15 July in front of this House and that you will find in my Political Guidelines: My Commission will not accept that the jurisdiction of courts in the EU Member States be limited by special regimes for investor-to-state disputes. The rule of law and the principle of equality before the law must also apply in this context.

    The negotiating mandate foresees a number of conditions that have to be respected by such a regime as well as an assessment of its relationship with domestic courts. There is thus no obligation in this regard: the mandate leaves it open and serves as a guide.

    I had thought my commitment on this point was very clear but I am happy to clarify and reiterate it here today as a number of you have asked me do so: In the agreement that my Commission will eventually submit to this House for approval there will be nothing that limits for the parties the access to national courts or that will allow secret courts to have the final say in disputes between investors and States.

    I have asked Frans Timmermans, in his role as First Vice-President in charge of the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, to advise me on the matter. There will be no investor-to-state dispute clause in TTIP if Frans does not agree with it too.

    I am confident that – with your support – we can negotiate an ambitious trade agreement with the U.S. along these lines, with full respect of European interests and the rule of law.

    Bridging the Investment Gap

    “Let me be clear when I say that my Commission, like every Commission before it, will treat Member States equally. And we will be tough when we need to be tough. It is time we had a real ‘grand bargain’, a broad coalition of countries and the main political parties who will work together on a three pillar structure: structural reforms, fiscal credibility and investment.

    The response to the current economic challenges cannot be top-down. I do not believe in miracles – there is no magic bullet or growth button to push in Brussels. Structural reforms, fiscal credibility and investment at national and EU level have to go hand in hand.”

    “The level of investment in the EU dropped by just under €500 billion, or 20%, after its latest peak in 2007. We are facing an investment gap. We have to work to bridge that gap.

    Europe can help make this happen. As you know, I intend to present an ambitious €300 billion Investment package for Jobs, Growth and Competitiveness.

    I will not now tell you all the details of what this package will contain. How can I when my new Team has yet to even meet to discuss it?

    You will just have to have a little faith. You have my word that my College will start working on this day and night from the moment we take office.

    If you give us your support today, we will present the Package before Christmas. This is not a promise, it is an affirmation.”

    The First legislative initiatives of the Juncker Commission

    “Every day, Europe is losing out by not unlocking the great potential of our huge digital single market. Jobs that should be there are not being created. Ideas – the DNA of Europe’s economy! – do not materialise to the extent they should. Let us change this for the better.”

    “In tomorrow’s increasingly competitive world, Europe will only be able to thrive if we get it right on Energy Union.

    In view of the discussions that will take place in the coming days on this, I would plead with Member States to find an agreement in the European Council so that we can go to Paris with a clear mandate. We all have to be pulling in the same direction if progress is to be made.”

    Conclusion

    “Citizens are losing faith, extremists on the left and right are nipping at our heels, our competitors are taking liberties. It is time we breathed a new lease of life into the European project.

    Huge challenges await us. It is up to us to shape these challenges. If we want a role to play in the future we have to play it now. It is up to us to ensure that the handwriting of the European Social Model is clearly visible in everything we do. Because Europe is the protective shield for all of us who can call this magnificent continent their home.

    I stand here in front of you, in this House that is the beacon of European democracy, and call upon you to set Europe in motion again.”

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