Brussels, 26 May 2016
Ladies and Gentlemen, I can be very brief because Donald was covering the whole landscape in Europe and in the rest of the world.
I would like to comment briefly on the general economic situation. The EU’s recovery continues despite a more difficult global environment. In 2015, the European growth reached 2%, in the euro area 1.7%. These figures are confirming that the recovery is on solid ground and well on track. The GDP level of the euro area has now surpassed the pre-crisis high records in 2008. Unemployment continues to fall. There are 5 million more jobs in 2016 by comparison to 2013, even if the weight of unemployment is still too high. Investment is picking up in the euro area and in the European Union as a whole.
We are sticking to the strategy we developed in the recent year. That means that we are building a virtuous triangle of investment, structural reforms and fiscal responsibilities. And we are deepening our greatest asset – that is the Single Market – by launching new initiatives in the field of energy, digital services and capital markets.
The European Investment Plan is on track: in less than one year, the European Fund for Strategic Investments has triggered more than EUR 100 billion in new investments. That means we have reached a third of our target of EUR 315 billion. The Plan is producing effects in terms of employment, in terms of added elements to growth-sustaining measures; and we have the intention, as the Commission, to propose the extension of the strategic Investment Plan beyond 2018.
On Greece, we are happy that the Eurogroup was able to find an agreement both amongst the 19 and with the IMF. You can remember that last year, when we were meeting in Elmau, this was the most dramatic issue on the agenda. It has been solved because even the debt-related measures have started to be taken seriously under meditation.
On trade, which will be one of the main issues of today’s agenda: we will repeat to our colleagues at the G7 that we believe that solutions should be found at a multilateral level. So we will continue to push for trade agreements which will help boost growth and jobs. We want to shape global trade, through plurilateral, regional and bilateral deals.
Our negotiations with Canada have been completed and we do hope that we will be able to sign the agreement with Prime Minister Trudeau at our bilateral summit in October later this year.
On TTIP – we are currently negotiating with the US. The EU is ready, willing and able to conclude an ambitious, balanced and high-standard TTIP agreement with President Obama’s administration. But for all these negotiations, substance is by far more important than deadlines and the European Union will not lower the standards we are used to.
The EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement is on a good track, but now we have to finish the job. And we will meet with the Japanese Prime Minister here in Japan in order to speed up the negotiations, which are under way.
Our economic ties with China will play a major role during these two days in Japan. The EU is China’s largest trading partner and we have a strong interest in further developing our relationship. In order to be mutually beneficial, this relationship must be based on open competitive markets and the principle of non-discrimination and fair competition.
The global overcapacity in the steel sector is of great concern to Europeans. It has cost Europe thousands of jobs since 2008; and the overcapacity in China alone has been estimated at almost the double of the European annual production. So we will make it clear that we will step up our trade defence measures. This effort has started – and as far as the market economy status for China is concerned, we will discuss this in detail. The European Union has launched an in-depth impact assessment, and when this impact assessment will be finished, we can deliver in the best way possible. But everyone has to know that if somebody distorts the market, Europe cannot be defenceless.
And as Donald said, Britain will remain as a member of the European Union.
Compliments of the European Commission