Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Crisis brings us closer, says EU president

Those who think that the Euro will disintegrate are not fully aware of the dynamics of the European Union, the EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in Auckland today.

"Every time Europe has faced a crisis, we have moved towards deeper integration," he said in a lecture at Auckland University after having an honorary doctorate of law conferred on him.

"The debate in Europe is a strong one, but it is a debate about how far to integrate, rather than whether to undo integration.

"So it must be remembered that the Euro is not only a monetary construction; it is also a political project which embodies the will of Europeans to share their future. This oath is not in question; we will come out stronger from this crisis, I can promise you that."

The financial and economic crisis that had shaken the world since 2008 had had a major impact on Europe.

It had put into question many economic and fiscal policies and forced a rethink of past choices.

"But this does not mean Europe is in decline.

"Seen in its full context, our situation is quite strong."

He said the transformation of Europe compared to 60 or even 20 years ago was extraordinary.

"We have not only built the world's largest single market and trading bloc, and created the world's second-leading currency; we have united a continent and stayed true to the values of our social market model."

"Four of our Member States belong to the G8, and we are key players in other international for a such as the G20 and UN. For these reasons we will remain a key global partner for a long time to come."

The very fact that the European Union was a grouping or 27 Member States was a signal it was open to others, flexible and ready to adapt to the times.

Mr Barroso said the European Union and Member States were putting all efforts into solutions.

"We are committed to improving not only the headline figures - we are also addressing the structural issues that have led some of our Member States into difficulty.

"We have agreed assistance packages to the countries facing sovereign debt problems, we have set up a permanent crisis mechanism whose reserves will be larger than the IMF.

"We will adopt proposals to reinforce economic surveillance in the European Union, with a stronger focus on debt sustainability and more effective enforcement measures, we are strengthening our banking system, we are deepening our Single Market and we are exploring our growth-boosting potential. "

- NZ Herald

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