The European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has been defending his calls for deeper economic and political union. He told euronews that talk of Europe’s “fragile recovery” is not too optimistic.
Jose Manuel Barroso: “I prefer to concentrate on what’s positive because I think it’s important to boost people’s confidence. The European Union is doing all it can for Europe with all the means at its disposal. But what we can’t do is respond with means we don’t have. That’s why I strongly defended Europe because I believe it’s important that people know what we’re trying to do collectively within the European institutions.”
Audrey Tilve, euronews: “Eurosceptic parties and extreme groups are gaining ground across Europe, and polls suggest they could make a breakthrough at the European elections. What would happen in such a scenario?”
Barroso: “It’s true in difficult economic times, especially when unemployment is high, certain parties become more popular. From the extreme right to the extreme left, people are manipulated, and some groups offer simplistic solutions to complex problems to ease people’s fears and anxieties. So I’m counting on the pro-European forces to lead this battle.”
euronews: “How do you feel about Britain and even Germany talking about “repatriating” some national powers from Europe? Chancellor Merkel isn’t a leader noted for her euroscepticism..”
Barroso: “The idea of “renationalising” certain powers is a dangerous idea and could lead to clashes between governments. Some don’t like certain social measures so they want to break ties with Europe over that and that can’t happen. Others don’t like Europe’s environmental policies so they want to pull out of bloc-wide agreements. Others have different complaints. It’s not right! What we have to do, in all sectors where we have responsibilities is reduce administrative costs, but avoid sparking an ideological debate which will only cause further splits within Europe, because right now Europeans need to gather together and focus on what’s essential.”
And Jose Manuel Barroso will be answering more questions, and some from you, in our Global Conversation from 2030 CET tonight.