This morning the Committee played host to the European Commission’s President, José Manuel Barroso, who had come to debate the Commission’s 26 November European Economic Recovery Plan and also the Lisbon Strategy and the link between the two. The EESC’s President, Mario Sepi, wrote to Barroso on 14 November to express the Committee’s concerns with regard to the more vulnerable in our societies, the need for continued articulation with the overall Lisbon Strategy for an intelligent and green economy, and the need for Europe to take a central and guiding role as the crisis unfolds. Barroso, who spoke with passion and conviction, was happy to concur. This was, he pointed out, the first crisis for the ‘globalised’ world and he was proud of the central role Europe had been playing. It was a rich speech and, in a strange way, both a reassuring and a depressing one. Depressing, because there are increasing signs that we are entering a prolonged difficult period in which jobs will be lost, homes repossessed and people suffer. Reassuring, because there is a plan – a good one – and, at least as far as the Commission is concerned, the resolve and determination to make it work. Reassuring also because the crisis has provided proof positive of the advantages of the euro and the euro zone.
As Barroso put it, just imagine if European economies had started a round of competitive devaluations. We are all in this together and the general hope expressed by speakers in the debate is that member states will not forget this.