As Commission President, I will set myself five priorities.
My first priority will be to put policies that create growth and jobs at the centre of the policy agenda of the next Commission. As a key ingredient for this, we must create a digital single market for consumers and businesses – making use of the great opportunities of digital technologies which know no borders. To do so, we will need to have the courage to break down national silos in telecoms regulation, in copyright and data protection legislation, in the management of radio waves and in competition law.
If we do this, we can ensure that European citizens will soon be able to use their mobile phones across Europe without having to pay roaming charges. We can ensure that consumers can access music, movies and sports events on their electronic devices wherever they are in Europe and regardless of borders. And we can generate 500 billion Euro of additional growth in Europe in the course of the mandate of the next Commission, thereby creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs and a vibrant knowledge-based society. I will work on this from day one of being Commission President.
As a second priority, I want to reform and reorganise Europe’s energy policy in a new European Energy Union. We need to pool our resources, combine our infrastructures and unite our negotiating power vis-à-vis third countries. We need to diversify our energy sources, and reduce the energy dependency of several of our Member States.
I want to keep our European energy market open to our neighbours. However, if the price for energy from the East becomes too expensive, either in commercial or in political terms, Europe should be able to switch very swiftly to other supply channels. We need to be able to reverse energy flows when necessary. And we need to strengthen the share of renewable energies on our continent. This is not only a matter of a responsible climate change policy. It is, at the same time, an industrial policy imperative if we still want to have affordable energy at our disposal in the medium term. I therefore want Europe’s Energy Union to become the world number one in renewable energies.
Third, under my presidency, the Commission will negotiate a reasonable and balanced trade agreement with the United States of America. It is anachronistic that, in the 21st century, Europeans and Americans still impose customs duties on each other’s products. These should be swiftly and fully abolished. I also believe that we can go a significant step further in recognising each other’s product standards or working towards transatlantic standards. However, as Commission President, I will also be very clear that I will not sacrifice Europe’s safety, health, social and data protection standards on the altar of free trade. Notably, the safety of the food we eat and the protection of Europeans' personal data will be non-negotiable for me as Commission President.
A fourth priority for me will be to continue with the reform of our monetary union, and to do so with Europe’s social dimension in mind. I believe that, in the next five years, we will have to consolidate and complement the unprecedented measures we have taken during the crisis, to simplify them and to make them more legitimate socially. I see three main areas of change:
a. We have to re-balance the relationship between elected politicians and the European Central Bank in the daily management of the Eurozone. I admire what Mario Draghi has done to save the euro. However, he had to do so in a clearly exceptional situation. The ECB neither wants nor can govern the Eurozone. The Eurozone should instead be managed by the Commission and by the Euro Group, which in my view should be chaired by a full-time President. The responsibility of the Euro Group includes issues related to the exchange rate. We should not forget this should the euro exchange rate increase further and become a problem for growth.
b. We should also re-balance the way in which we grant conditional stability support to Eurozone countries in financial difficulties. I propose that in the future, any support and reform programme goes not only through a fiscal sustainability assessment; but at the same time through a social impact assessment. The social effects of structural reforms need to be discussed in public. My party, the European People's Party, believes in the social market economy. It is not compatible with the social market economy that during a crisis, ship-owners and speculators become even richer, while pensioners can no longer support themselves. In this context, a targeted fiscal capacity at Eurozone level could be developed to work as a shock-absorber, if needed.
c. Thirdly, I am convinced that we have to strengthen the external projection of our monetary union. A proposal for a joint representation of the Eurozone in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was already made by the Commission in 1998 – but was never followed up. Today, the Treaty allows for the adoption of such a proposal by a qualified majority of Eurozone countries, and no longer by unanimity. I believe it is high time that we move ahead with this proposal and strengthen the Eurozone’s voice in the IMF and, as Commission President, I will take care of this. The euro must not only be stable on the inside, but must also have a strong common voice on the global stage.
A fifth and last priority for me as Commission President will be to give an answer to the British question. No reasonable politician can ignore the fact that, during the next five years, we will have to find solutions for the political concerns of the United Kingdom. We have to do this if we want to keep the UK within the European Union – which I would like to do as Commission President. As Commission President, I will work for a fair deal with Britain. A deal that accepts the specificities of the UK in the EU, while allowing the Eurozone to integrate further. The UK will need to understand that in the Eurozone, we need more Europe, not less. On the other hand, the other EU countries will have to accept that the UK will never participate in the euro, even if we may regret this. We have to accept that the UK will not become a member of the Schengen area. And I am also ready to accept that the UK will stay outside new EU institutions such as the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, meant to improve the fight against fraud in the EU, but clearly rejected by the House of Commons and the House of Lords. We have to respect such clear positions of the British Parliament, based on the British “opt out” Protocol. David Cameron has recently written down a number of further key demands in an article published in the Daily Telegraph. As Commission President, I will be ready to talk to him about these demands in a fair and reasonable manner. My red line in such talks would be the integrity of the single market and its four freedoms; and the possibility to have more Europe within the Eurozone to strengthen the single currency shared so far by 18 and soon by 19 Member States. But I have the impression that this is as important for Britain as it will be for the next President of the Commission.