Press Advisories

23. 2. 2009 16:26

Commissioner Verheugen about the Czech Presidency

Günter Verheugen: With less than two months of the Czech EU – Presidency completed it is already crystal clear, that this presidency is one of the most challenging since decades.

It is everything but a technical exercise. It requires strong leadership and a firm commitment to the core values of the European integration process:

true partnership and strong solidarity.

Europe is going through an economic crisis of unparalleled scope . What started in the financial sector is now affecting the real economy in a speed, that nobody dared to predict. The social consequences of the rapid downturn in manufacturing ,construction and trade are not yet fully visible. But soon they will, and we will not only be hit by falling growth-rates but also rising unemployment figures.

And all this happens in a period when European institutions are in transition and decision making will be increasingly more difficult.

The European responds to this crisis must be twofold:

Firstly we must not allow that the lessons we have learnt are now forgotten.

Protectionism, interventionism and any kind of economic nationalism would make things only worse.

We must defend the integrity of the most important asset we have, the functioning internal market. And we must maintain the spirit of partnership and cooperation.

Either we succeed together and yes, we can – or we fall apart and loose one by one.

Secondly we need to speak with one voice at the international front and must put all our weight on efforts a shape an new global economic governance and to make sure, that the principles of open markets, free trade and fair competition are further deepened.

For the European Commission it is of the utmost importance that it can rely during these challenging times on a presidency that is constructive and cooperative and concentrates fully on the job.

I see it as an advantage rather than as a problem that one of our new member states is in charge. The Czech presidency will guarantee that populists in old member states cannot make the enlargement a scapegoat. The accession of 12 new member states has created new economic opportunities and has made Europe politically stronger.

Günter Verheugen

Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry

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