Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2011-02-02-Speech-3-088-000"

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"Mr President, this debate clearly confirms that both energy and innovation are absolutely crucial for the future of Europe and the future of the European economy. Clearly we would all agree that, if we take the right steps now, not only can we make an important contribution to economic recovery in the short term, but we can also make our European economy much more competitive in the long term. Regarding comments on Treaty change and on the setting-up of the permanent European Stability Mechanism, the Commission is convinced that the Treaty provides the right framework for further reinforcement of economic governance. It is quite clear that to do this outside the Union framework raises political and institutional issues which will have to be very carefully examined by the Commission. I am sure that the leaders will discuss this issue too in Friday’s European Council meeting. The situation in Egypt and Tunisia was discussed this morning in the College of Commissioners. There was clear support for the legitimate aspirations of the people of Egypt and clear confirmation that the Commission stands ready to step up its assistance to Egypt and its people in this transition. The discussion on the situation in Tunisia and Egypt will follow and I am sure that my colleague Cathy Ashton will be able to address it in more precise terms. I also agree with all of you who called for concrete deliverables and for concrete actions to be taken. The Commission is therefore pushing very hard to have very clear targets. We would like to have a real internal market in the field of energy by 2014. We must finally unlock the potential of the internal market in this very important field of the economy. To give just one figure: if we do this right, consumers can save EUR 13 billion by having the possibility of getting electricity from a cheaper provider. This is more than EUR 100 per year per consumer, and this is just the beginning. Therefore we need to push the European Council to take real ownership of the internal market in the field of energy and to exercise ownership in relation to the very important transposition of the legislation, not only at European level but also at national level in each and every Member State. I listened very carefully to our MEPs from the Baltic countries. I think it is high time to overcome the situation whereby we have isolated energy islands. Therefore 2015 is the right time for finalising the work on this very important project and getting our Baltic Member States connected to the real European grid. If there was something with which I did not completely agree, it was the statement on Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. I listened to this and I must say I felt that it was very much inspired by what we do here in Europe – what we suggested in the EU 2020 strategy. He spoke about energy efficiency, the importance of education, the new impetus on protection of the environment, and the reduction of poverty. These are precisely the goals we have set for ourselves for the next 10 years. I really believe that we are leaders where environmental policies are concerned. You can check the position of the European Union in all environmental summits, and see the energy invested in bringing the whole world onto the right course in this particular field. Concerning our goals – our famous 2020 goals – we are doing quite well regarding the reduction of emissions. We are also doing quite well in increasing the share of renewable resources in all our energy production. But it is true – and I have to admit this here – that we are lagging behind in meeting the targets for energy efficiency. Therefore we, as a Commission, will monitor development in this field very closely and we will have a review of the targets in 2013. I can promise you that, if the results are not ambitious enough, we will seriously consider imposing legally binding targets for this field as well. We all know that the cleanest energy is safe energy. Concerning the comments on the innovation economy, here I think it is very clear that we have to raise the level of innovation priorities and innovation policies. We have to unlock the potential that has existed in Europe in this field for many years. We can see that, as regards closing our innovation gap with the USA and Japan, we are not doing as well as we would have expected to. We can see how emerging economies are closing on us, so we have to focus on this area as much as possible. We have to analyse the real causes of our lack of ambitious progress. One of them has been mentioned, namely the problem of red tape, bureaucracy and over-complicated rules. Therefore the Commission has already suggested – and this was adopted last week – a simplification of the rules for the Seventh Framework Programme for all innovation policies. I think we will all have a good opportunity in the context of the next multiannual financial framework discussion to improve the way in which we execute and implement European programmes, because we will also be discussing financial regulations. We have to look very carefully for a balance between appropriate control and the necessary flexibility in programme execution, so that we do not create additional red tape in relation to programmes which are especially important for the promotion of innovation policies in Europe. The economy will, of course, be discussed as well. The February European Council meeting will be a meeting of transition and a search for a comprehensive approach to the current economic challenges in Europe, whether in relation to the eurozone or in the field of improved economic governance for the whole European Union. I can assure you that the Commission is relentless in proposing measures to stabilise the situation in the financial market and in seeking long-term solutions. We believe that all this must constitute a comprehensive response which will allow us, finally, to move out of reactive mode and to plan for long-term measures and a long-term strengthening of the European economy."@en1

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