EU must speak with one voice: Barroso

08:48, March 05, 2010      

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European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso shows a document detailing the EU's Europe 2020 strategy during a speech to members of the European People's Party in Budapest on March 4, 2010. Barroso outlined on Thursday the Europe 2020 strategy involving a 10-year plan for jobs and growth, and spoke on the need for stronger economic governance and respecting the independence of the European Central Bank as it is key for a credible euro. (Xinhua/Reuters)

The European Commission's chief on Thursday repeated his call for EU member states to speak with one voice through tighter political coordination.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso made the call while addressing the European People's Party congress here.

The chief also called for protection of the EU's social welfare achievements while maintaining a market economy and keeping national budgets on target.

Barroso said the new Europe 2020 strategy had been designed to restore growth and to boost economic, social and regional cohesion in a bid to increase the competitiveness of the EU as a whole.

But he warned that social benefits had to be retained and that growth had to be "wise" and sustainable.

The global economic downturn proved the interdependence of national economies, Barroso said, underlining that market economies with strong social welfare components represented the true value of the EU, though its members were undergoing very hard times.

The European Union's gross domestic product (GDP) was down by 4 percent and there were 22 million jobless people while populations were ageing; resources were limited and competition was tough, Barroso said.

The new development strategy calls for a workforce encompassing 75 percent of all those aged between 20 and 64 years old by 2020 and for poverty reduction for 20 million people.

The strategy also requires spending 3 percent of EU GDP on research and development, on implementing environmental goals and on raising the proportion of young people attending college and university, he said.

Barroso reiterated the importance of expenditures in keeping with national budgets. He cited Greece as an example of what has happened when a country has to spend disproportionately on paying off its debts as opposed to improving education, health care and other public services.

The European People's Party meeting continues on Friday.

Source: Xinhua
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