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  • ECThe European Council (EC)

Prime Minister Samaras’ remarks at the European Council

  • Photo: European Council Family Photo.

    European Council Family Photo.

Allow me to thank Dalia and the Lithuanian Presidency for the excellent work demonstrated and concrete results produced. I want to assure everybody that we will maintain momentum on the progress the Lithuanian Presidency has achieved. As a matter of fact, we had already a meeting with Dalia last week in Athens, to coordinate a smooth transition. 
The Greek Presidency will firstly aim to achieve tangible results on pending issues. We are called to tackle the economic and financial crisis, by safeguarding our common currency through the deepening of the EMU and by dealing with recession and unemployment through boosting growth. At the same time, security challenges in our external borders are forcing us to deal comprehensively with immigration issues; both for legitimate asylum seekers and for illegal immigrants.  
In a nutshell, our efforts during the Presidency will focus on the following:
(A) Promoting growth, employment and cohesion. Specifically:
  • Completing pending legislation for boosting the growth oriented sector of the Multiannual Financial Framework.
  • Promoting the completion of Single Market Act I and II with emphasis on the deployment of high-speed broadband, on e-invoicing for public procurement and on all other elements which bring us closer to a true digital single market by 2015, as Herman so rightly pointed out in his letter.  
  • Implementing decisions to increase the lending capacity of SMEs - the key providers of jobs in the European economy.
  • Implementing the Youth Initiative, to stimulate jobs for the most vulnerable part of our population.
  • Taking action on external trade to accelerate ongoing talks on Trade Agreements with the US and other strategic partners.

(B) Deepening the Union, especially the EMU, by introducing policies and actions to improve deficiencies in the Euro area architecture, which surfaced during the current crisis.

On the Banking Union, the Greek Presidency will build upon the political agreement on the Single Resolution Mechanism regulation reached within the Council yesterday. Finalizing the trilogues on the SRM framework with the European Parliament on schedule, is a top priority of our Presidency. We congratulate the Lithuanian Presidency for the excellent results they achieved in finalizing both directives on bank recovery and deposit guarantee. At the same time, we will promote, as a matter of urgency, issues concerning tax fraud and tax evasion, as well as the Financial Transactions Tax. 
On Deepening the EMU, our aim is to lay the foundations of well coordinated EMU, with the right balance between solidity and solidarity and the institutional autonomy of its members. Our work will be guided by today’s Conclusions on the Partnerships for Growth, Jobs, Competitiveness which built upon Herman’s Roadmap and the Commission's Blueprint.
(C) Migration, border management and mobility of Union citizens, in the context of enhancing European security, both internally and externally.
Developing an area of Freedom, Justice and Security will be a major objective for the Greek presidency. Our approach has 3 targets: (a) stopping/reducing illegal migration in an efficient way, while safeguarding respect for human rights and combating the criminal networks of smuggling and trafficking (b) improving and better organizing legal migration and facilitated mobility. (c) coordinating effective repatriation policies for the illegal immigrants. d) enhancing synergies between immigration and growth by attracting educated and talented human resources.
(D) EU Sea Policies-Horizontal Thematic.
Our presidency will introduce a horizontal initiative encompassing all issues relevant for EU Sea policies. The main idea of this thematic is to redefine and relaunch the EU Maritime Policy in all its aspects, not being confined to issues of growth and development The objective will be the adoption of a text on Maritime Strategy at the June 2014 European Council, highlighting Security, Growth including Energy. 
On all the above issues and especially on Immigration flows and Maritime policies, we have agreed with Enrico Letta to closely work together, so that our two successive presidencies will become mostly effective and create the best one year  synergy as possible!