José Manuel Durão Barroso attributes the success of his presidency of the European Commission to the vote of 27 member countries under the Treaty signed at the Lisbon Summit. For him, the adoption of this document means that EU citizens, including Portugal, are supporters of a united Europe. Another central theme of his chairmanship was the development of relations with Africa. On the eve of the European-African Summit, he emphasizes that these relations should become an integral part of Boyssel’s policy. We bring to your attention an interview with Barroso our channel:
EuroNews: Mr. Chairman, welcome to EuroNews. What can EU citizens expect from a new treaty? How will he change the constitution of the community?
Durran Barroso: He surpasses all previous treaties and makes the functioning of the EU more effective, democratic and effective, especially in the field of foreign policy. The contract refines all previous agreements. It makes no sense to compare this reform document with the constitution, because it does not replace it. It is much more important for Europe that the Lisbon Treaty demonstrates the existence of political will, confirms a common understanding that we can achieve our goal and achieve the desired results only if we make our union workable.
EuroNews: Why should the European who said no to the constitution have to believe in a new treaty?
Durran Barroso: If people rejected the constitution because they considered it a mechanism of a single state, then they can breathe a sigh of relief. Others will be pleased that we are now introducing the protection of the interests of public servants. The Lisbon Treaty is not at all a revolutionary document, but it undoubtedly represents significant progress.
EuroNews: Is this a mini-contract?
Durran Barroso: No, I am against such a label. I already said before, when this was discussed, I told President Sarkozy that it’s better not to talk about the mini-contract at all, and he agreed not to use this expression. Perhaps in the beginning the most ardent supporters of the united Europe did not use all the arguments in defense of their position, perhaps some leaders were not convincing, this must be recognized.
EuroNews: And which leaders?
Durran Barroso: I would not like to criticize them, but the truth is … I have already said that European issues must be approached with the same political responsibility as national issues.
EuroNews: In your opinion, is it possible to say that people believe more in the European idea now, after a series of difficult years?
Durran Barroso: Now the situation is better than for all the previous 8 years, and on a number of issues even 15 years, if we take Denmark. But not only Denmark can be mentioned. Poland shows an incredible result. In France, the European idea is supported more than 3 years ago. This is partly because at the beginning of this presidency it was said: “We will not be able to agree on everything, but we are all for a united Europe!” Recall that on July 14, President Sarkozy proposed making European Day a national holiday. This has not happened before. This is what I expect from European leaders, a commitment to the European idea.
EuroNews: Do you expect bumps in the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty?
Durran Barroso: Anyone who wants to demonstrate his disagreement is always free to do so in parliament or in a referendum, as in an approaching plebiscite in Ireland. However, I believe that the likelihood of successful ratification is very high, and I am extremely pleased about that. “
EuroNews: If the President of Sudan does not help end the crisis in Darfur, should the West and the international community intervene, as in Kosovo in 1999?
Durran Barroso: Well … I do not think this is the right answer. The situation in Darfur is very difficult, it is not as simple as … Well, even at the level of the situation … what was in Kosovo is the aggression of Serbian nationalists against the people of Kosovo. In Sudan, everyone fights against the rest. Several rebel groups are fighting among themselves. The situation is so complicated that I do not think that the intervention, which looks like a simple task, will actually turn out to be like that. That is why we prefer a serious and responsible approach, that is why the European Union is coordinating its diplomatic steps with the UN to work out a single line. Our representatives work together with African partners; the forces of the African Union are stationed there, in this sense, the President of the Sudan keeps promises.
EuroNews: Europe announces a new course towards Africa with regard to development assistance. Do African countries themselves agree with this course?
Durran Barroso: Relations between Europe and Africa are different from relations between Europe and China. Relations with China are weaker, fewer contacts on a human level, at least there are fewer contacts in Europe, if we talk about real contacts on a human level. Africa is a different matter in terms of trade. Africa is widely represented in all areas of European trade. And Europe is the main donor to Africa. It is true that the negotiation process is not always easy. Each side wants more. This is normal. But we import more from Africa than the rest of the world combined. And in return we provide long-term assistance, and not just short-term loans.