In his State of the Union address, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso took some pains to avoid the same sort of criticism he heard after the speech he made last year: that he approached problems with not enough vigour.
One year on, the EU’s problems are even more grave. Barroso faced the members of the European Parliament looking ahead to a lot of work, the state of the union in some ways precarious without precedent.
The EU today is seen as the centre world’s financial eathquake zone, what with Greece in the spotlight and increasing doubts about the euro. Calls continue for better coordination and more European Union action.
Barroso said the EU faces its biggest test ever.
Euronews asked him about various proposed solutions, such as the controversial eurobonds, which would enable the 17 nations sharing the euro to share each other’s debt burden.
Barroso said: “Eurobonds are not a magic solution. I think they can only be put into practice when there is a degree of confidence, integration and sufficient discipline, because now the countries with smaller debts will not accept the risk of these bonds alongside countries with lax public accounts.”
Just as ordinary Europeans are having to tighten their belts, so then should governments. The implication is budgetary rigour.
“Just today we approved very important legislation that we presented a year ago. It was very hard but we approved reinforcing the Stability and Growth Pact, which gives the Commission more authority to impose rules and common discipline in the euro zone and EU in general.”
Barroso also warned that more economic and political integration are needed to cure what ails the continent. And he called for the bloc’s 27 national leaders to work together.
“The Commission alone cannot solve the problem. We need a common leadership, and we need European governments to defend Europe, to explain to European citizens what we have to lose if we were to have a deeper crisis in Europe.”