Outgoing European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has been on a last official visit to Washington.
He has stressed the strategic dimensions in negotiating between Europe and the United States, and discussed the Ukrainian crisis.
After talks with members of Congress and the Supreme Court Barroso received the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished Leadership Award. He spoke with our correspondent Stefan Grobe.
Stefan Grobe, euronews: “Mr. President, let’s talk about EU-US relations. We’ve had the NSA scandal that created a lot of repercussions in Europe, we have the TTIP trade talks that are very complicated and there is a lot of resistance in Europe and the United States, so where are we right now? Your thoughts.”
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso: “It’s important to understand that this Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership can be a real transformation in the global economic scenario, because our relationship is the biggest by far in terms of trade and investment. There were and there are some concerns, the issue of surveillance by American agencies, of course, is a very serious issue and we have expressed to our American partners our concerns in a very firm and convincing way. But we are also addressing this through dialogue.”
euronews: “On Ukraine: President Putin in Russia is riding on a wave of popularity and the sanctions — the several rounds of sanctions — haven’t changed anything so far. When are we going to see that the sanctions make a difference and that the Russians are feeling the heat?”
Barroso: “Our goal is to show Moscow it is important that they de-escalate the situation, which they have not done so far. They could at least take two measures. One, to make a public and unequivocal appeal to the separatists who are making trouble in the eastern part of Ukraine to cease those actions and to lay down their weapons. And another thing they could do, of course, is to repeal that decision taken by the Duma to authorise the use of force in Ukraine.”
euronews: “In a few months, you are going to leave the presidency of the European Commission. What are your feelings right now? What are your biggest achievements, disappointments or mistakes?”
Barroso: “The fact that we were able during these very challenging times to keep Europe united, open and now even stronger, I think, is a great, let’s say, has great meaning, and shows that the European is strong, and that the forces of integration are stronger than the forces of disintegration. And I’m proud of the contribution the Commission has given for that purpose.”
euronews: “Chances are that you know your successor personally. Do you have any advice for him or her?”
Barroso: “Usually, the successors don’t like listening very much to the advice of the predecessors. But, if I may, I would advise the person who succeeds me as Commission President to be patient. It’s not easy to preside over a European Commission of 28 members, a very important administration, working together with member states, the Council and the European Parliament. So, you have to have a lot of patience and determination, hopefully be in good physical shape, but overall you have to have this passion for Europe. And if you have this passion for Europe and some good deal of patience, you can do it.”