President Jean-Claude Juncker at the Brussels Economic Forum

This morning, President Juncker delivered the 7th annual Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa Lecture at the Brussels Economic Forum, entitled: “Protection, prosperity, progress: A stronger euro for a stronger Europe”.

Following the 20th anniversary of the European Central Bank, President Juncker referred to the 340 million Europeans who use the euro every day, the fact that the euro area will soon represent 85% of the overall gross domestic product of the entire European Union, and that across the world, the euro is now the second most used reserve currency, with 60 countries now linking their currencies to the euro in one way or another. “We should never underestimate how far the euro has come” President Juncker said. With reference to the global financial and economic crisis, President Juncker emphasised the priority the Commission has placed on jobs and growth, launching the Investment Plan for Europe, making full use of the flexibility within the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact, supporting young people to get into work via the Youth Guarantee, and strengthening the Single Market and the digital economy. Looking ahead, President Juncker underlined that we need to make sure that our recovery benefits everyone: “Some say this is a matter for national governments or for social partners alone. I say this is a matter for everyone in Europe” he said, “this is why we made it a priority to strengthen Europe’s social dimension as much as its economic dimension”. In this regard, President Juncker welcomed the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights by all leaders and institutions last November in Gothenburg, as well as the agreement on Posted Workers. He called for further progress in the months to come on the Commission’s proposals on fair and transparent working conditions and on work-life balance, as well as on the proposal for a new European Labour Authority. Looking to the Economic and Monetary Union, the architecture of which is much more robust than ever before, he said, adding that “the job is not complete. We cannot be complacent about what remains to be done”. This includes completing the EMU, the Banking Union, ensuring that the European Stability Mechanism plays the role of a common backstop, and reaching an agreement on the next long-term EU budget. “We must never lose sight of what it is the Economic and Monetary Union stands for, and how it must continue to offer protection, prosperity and progress to all Europeans.” President Juncker concluded. The full speech is available here.