Tagged: InstitutionalAffairs

Washington Ideas Forum

MODERATOR: But now let me now introduce Secretary John Kerry. There’s a spot on the State Department’s website that shows a running log of everywhere Secretary John Kerry has traveled. He’s logged well over 300 miles – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Afghanistan, Lebanon – a testament to the complexity and challenge of his charge.

There is another side to Secretary Kerry not widely known. It’s said of Washington politicians that they are there for you when they need you – not so Kerry. Despite his schedule, he’s the first to call a bereaved family, as he did the Bradlees last week. He’s the first to go to a friend or staffer’s bedside at the hospital. He’s the first with small kindnesses. At age 70, when many of us will be resting on whatever laurels we’ve accumulated, dandling our grandchildren, Secretary Kerry is still spending most of his waking hours serving his country.

Let us now cover some of those 300 miles with the – 300,000 miles – (laughter) – with The Atlantic’s Steve Clemons.

QUESTION: Thank you so much, Margaret. (Applause.) Secretary Kerry, we have a lot of ground to cover in 20 minutes, and I thought I would start with —

SECRETARY KERRY: We do, on one of the most uncomfortable sofas I’ve ever sat on too.

QUESTION: Yeah. (Laughter.) That is duly noted.

SECRETARY KERRY: Truly.

QUESTION: Duly noted. I don’t know how you could talk about that from the Senate chairs you had, but I understand.

SECRETARY KERRY: Okay.

QUESTION: Let’s start with – I feel like we need to start with page A1 of The New York Times today, where Mark Landler went through – and to put Mark Landler’s article in context, it’s a very interesting profile of the national security decision-making process and the players in it. And if you contrast it with just a few years ago when you had Hillary Clinton, you had Jim Jones and Tom Donilon, you had various other players in the Department of Defense, that there seemed to be – they were all on the same page. You never saw people speaking off-script.

And I’m really interested to – you were described in there as someone that wasn’t as tightly tethered to the White House, and I’m interested in what your comments on the national security decision-making process are right now.

SECRETARY KERRY: I think it’s extremely effective, and this is a Chatty Cathy town, where – (laughter) —

QUESTION: But it seems to have become more Chatty Cathy than it was a few years ago.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I’m not going to – I mean, I don’t want to get – look, we have much more important things to talk about than that. This is – there’s always people who make a business out of really trying to, I think, gossip and tear things down who may be on the outside who don’t have an ability to necessarily be in the loop of what’s happening.

But I will tell you that the coordination and relationship between Susan and me and Dennis and the team is as tight as I’ve ever experienced. Susan was over at my house the other night. We spent three and a half hours at dinner going over the world, working on things. I have not – I don’t think I’ve missed a national security meeting or a principals meeting, as we call them, even when I’m on the road. If it’s midnight or 1 o’clock in the morning, I’m on the VTC dialing in to Washington.

So I don’t think it’s a very accurate portrayal, and I don’t think it’s particularly important to spend a lot of time on it. I think we are more engaged in the world than we have ever been. We are more strategic.

QUESTION: It’s a more confusing world, a more —

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it’s a much more complicated world. It’s —

QUESTION: What does your dashboard look like? What does the dashboard of the Secretary of State look like when you see, from Asia to Africa —

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it looks more like an airplane panel. It’s sort of – (laughter) —

QUESTION: Yeah.

SECRETARY KERRY: — both sides. Look, I’m not complaining about it. It’s – I think what is happening is, frankly, the result of years of things we’ve advocated and worked towards. And yes, it’s a confusing and difficult moment. But I don’t think we should be intimidated by it. I think we need to embrace it and envelope it and capture it to the best of our ability, and we’re working to do that.

I mean, there’s an enormous amount of – the workings of the State Department – and I saw a couple folks here who have been there – it’s like an iceberg. You see the top whatever percentage, 20 percent or something like that. There’s a huge amount of daily enterprise and monthly, yearly strategic engagement that you don’t see, and that, frankly, doesn’t get written about.

An example of that – I mean, Afghanistan is not on the front pages, but I will tell you that our efforts to work the election, to know that the election was the critical transition moment, began the day I came in and even before when I was a senator. And as I came in, we worked the relationship so that, as things got difficult, I was able to go over and work with Dr. Abdullah and work with Dr. Ghani and pull the thing together. And so we have a sustainable policy in Afghanistan, where there’s now a unity government and something that nobody thought was possible. That was a strategic outcome.

Iraq similarly – it’s not an accident we have a new government in Iraq. And the President was absolutely correct to hold off getting immediately committed to the ISIL effort until we knew we had a government in Iraq that we could work with. And we knew that wasn’t Maliki, but the United States couldn’t just crash in and say, “Hey, you’re out. Here are the guys that are in.” That’s not our – it would be playing into all of the worst stereotypes that have brought us to the difficulties we’re living with today.

So we put in place a clear strategy, working with all of our friends in the region, particularly the Sunni because the Sunni countries have been so angry about the way Maliki was building a Shia army and linking to Iran and creating a sectarian divide. And that’s why it was dysfunctional. So we worked first to get the Sunni speaker to decide not to run again, to get another person who could run quietly behind the scenes.

QUESTION: Sounds like a lot of micro work.

SECRETARY KERRY: It’s a lot of micro work. And our Ambassador Steve Beecroft and our Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk, who practically lived over there during this period, did an extraordinary job of diplomacy. And we worked it. I went over. We worked with Barzani in Erbil to get him to commit, because the Kurds were angling towards independence, to stay with it. We got a Kurd president of the country. Once you had a Sunni speaker and a Kurd president, it was possible to get a new prime minister. And even Sistani – Ayatollah Sistani’s comments that were very much critical to moving Maliki were —

QUESTION: So let me —

SECRETARY KERRY: — came out of a coordinated effort.

QUESTION: Yeah.

SECRETARY KERRY: The bottom line is the Iraqis made the final choice. We couldn’t. So —

QUESTION: And we can check that off as perhaps a success at the moment. I remember some years ago I was in your committee room when you were chair of the Foreign Relations Committee or – with Richard Lugar. I don’t remember who was ranking and who was chair, but you were both cool on either sides. And David Petraeus was testifying —

SECRETARY KERRY: You mean —

QUESTION: — on Afghanistan.

SECRETARY KERRY: — compared to today’s Senate, we actually talked to each other.

QUESTION: Yeah. Yeah. You talked to each other. You seemed to get along. And on this day, David Petraeus was testifying in his ISAF role as head of Afghanistan, and you and Richard Lugar quizzed him about whether what we were doing in Afghanistan fit within a strategic framework for the United States, where our strategic interests were furthered. And both you and Senator Lugar made the point that there was a big difference between being in the silo of Afghanistan and what the other broader strategic issues are.

And I’m interested in whether we’re running the risk, when we think about national security today, of chasing rabbits and forgetting what the – how does Iraq and Iraq solvency fit a strategic plan? How does Afghanistan fit the strategic plan, ISIS – where does it fit within the kind of broad strategic —

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it’s very straightforward.

QUESTION: Yeah.

SECRETARY KERRY: And let me say to everybody that we’re living – the Cold War was easy compared to where we are today. And the immediate post-war period —

QUESTION: Is Putin trying to make it easy for you again, bring it back?

SECRETARY KERRY: I hope not. (Laughter.) That’s a different – no, because he’s doing it very differently and in a way that’s very challenging to the ability to be able to avoid conflicts and begin to harness the energy of the world and move in a similar direction.

The world we’re living in today is much more – look, a lot of countries have economic power today that they didn’t have in the last century. We wanted that. We have about 15 nations today that 10 years ago were aid recipients from the United States. South Korea is an example. Today, South Korea is a donor country, doing what we’ve urged countries to do, which is accept global responsibility.

So now you have more countries with more economic power in a globalized world, and they’re feeling their oats. They’re going to automatically react and say, well, wait a minute now, do we really want the behemoth United States, superpower of the world, telling us all the time what we have to do? And so you have to approach these things a little bit differently. It requires more diplomacy. It requires more dialogue. It requires more respect for people, more mutual interest finding. It’s much more of the world that Henry Kissinger describes in his wonderful book, Diplomacy, where he talks about state interests and the balance of power.

And we’re much more, in many ways, back towards the latter part of the 19th century or even 18th century in dealing with countries. Countries are flexing their muscles and standing up for their own interests and they have some greater economic independence and ability to do it. And then you see the BRICS – Brazil, China, India – standing up and saying – Russia – we want something – a different access, in a sense.

So we have to work harder at it. And my warning to the Congress and to the country is, really, this doesn’t come for free.

QUESTION: Are we getting —

SECRETARY KERRY: American power needs to be projected thoughtfully and appropriately, but if we’re not – I’ll give you an example. Prime Minister Modi from India came here the other day. He came after going to China and going to India – going to Japan, both of whom gave him double-digit numbers of billions of dollars for infrastructure development. China, I think, did 30 billion; Japan did somewhere similar —

QUESTION: How did we do?

SECRETARY KERRY: — but more. We couldn’t even do a $1 billion loan guarantee, the United States of America.

Now everybody here ought to be shocked by that. We are behaving like we’re the richest country on the face of the planet. We’re still critical to everything that happens in the world. And we are not sufficiently committing the resources necessary to do what we need to do in this world.

QUESTION: So you’re saying American power in the world is living on fumes from the —

SECRETARY KERRY: No, it’s not. We’re doing better than that. And if you look at what we’ve done, look at – we are leading in everything we’re doing in the world. This narrative about the United States disengaging and the President not being committed is just – it’s one of the reasons why I’m here today, because —

QUESTION: But there’s a difference between the argument about disengagement and then going to Brazil, Russia, India and talking to leaders and sensing their doubt in America; that’s a different thing. There’s a doubt out there. It’s palpable.

SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah, but —

QUESTION: How do you fix that?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it all came out of one thing, which is somewhat confounding, which was sort of the Syria issue and challenge at that moment. But people seem to be thinking that it’s wiser to bomb for a day and a half and do some damage than it is to get all of the chemical weapons out of a country. We did the unprecedented. We got 100 percent of the declared chemical weapons out of the country and destroyed.

QUESTION: I seem to recall —

SECRETARY KERRY: So that Israel is, in fact, safer today.

QUESTION: I seem to recall that was your idea. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it was shared with a number of people, but let me just make – I want to make a point that I think is key to all of this. You have a world in which masses of numbers of young people – 65 percent of countries throughout Africa, through the Middle East, South Central Asia, et cetera – have populations under the age of 30, 35; fifty percent under the age of 21; and down you go. If these kids are left to no devices or their own, which is what’s happening, madrasas will fill their world, radical wahabi/salafi extremism of one kind or another, something is going to come along and say the world is disappointing you and we’re a better alternative. How else do you get young kids to strap themselves in a suicide vest and think things are better on the other side? But that’s happening.

And the fear I hear from my counterpart foreign ministers in many parts of the world is that that void is not being filled by the West or others. We talk about democracy, we go out and we extol the virtues of our way of life, et cetera, but are we backing it up?

QUESTION: There’s an absence.

SECRETARY KERRY: Are we doing what’s necessary to bring power and electricity so they can share the wealth? And the other thing is, all of these people have mobile devices. They’re all in touch with everybody in the world, all the time, 24/7. They know what’s going on in the world. But they don’t see themselves being able to reach it or reaching it.

And I thought always the dream that America touched people with the most was their ability to be able to reach the brass ring. We have to help them do that more, and that’s a long-term strategy. Other people – I’ll tell you, I’ll share a conversation. The foreign minister of a country in Africa – big country, has a 30 percent Muslim population – and when we went out to dinner, he let his hair down with me and he said, “We’re frightened.” I asked him, “How are you dealing with this Muslim population?” He said the extremists have a strategy. They come in and pay money in poor areas of town, get the young kids, take them out, indoctrinate them, then they don’t have to pay the money anymore. Those young kids become the recruiters or the emissaries or the, unfortunately, the implementers of some policy.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY KERRY: And – but what he said to me that was most important is he said they’re disciplined and they don’t have a five-year plan, they have a 30-year plan. Now, we don’t even have a five-year plan. So we’ve got to get our act together, and that’s what the President is trying to say. That’s what he said at West Point when he talked about the focus on terrorism —

QUESTION: Right.

SECRETARY KERRY: — that’s what the President is saying in our TPP, our engagement with Asia – the rebalance with Asia, the TTIP – 40 percent of the global economy in Asia, 40 percent of the global economy in Europe and the United States – we’re focused strategically on how do you play the long game here?

QUESTION: Right.

SECRETARY KERRY: And the long game is raising the standards of trade, opening up more trade —

QUESTION: So do you think we’re playing the long game in Asia and the short game in the Middle East?

SECRETARY KERRY: No, I think we’re playing a long game in the Middle East. I mean, if you – if you – if we – you asked earlier what’s the importance of Iraq —

QUESTION: Josh Earnest came out and made an interesting comment about the U.S.-Israel relationship where he said that relationship transcends individual leaders. It was a very interesting comment.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, but —

QUESTION: So what’s the long game? In a case like Israel, there’s been a lot of talk. Jeffrey Goldberg, my colleague, had a —

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I read the article.

QUESTION: — a spicy word, “chickenshit” thrown out there. But I think the broader question is: What is the American long game in an arena that keeps ripping itself apart.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the long game, as everybody knows from the investment I made much of last year, is to find a way to bring the parties to make peace in the Middle East. We still believe it is doable, but it takes courage. It takes strength. You have to be prepared – both sides have to be prepared to compromise in order to do it.

Here’s what I know, and I think all of you know this viscerally and intellectually. And I’ve asked this question of people in the Middle East. One of the great challenges for Israel is, obviously, not to be a binational state. It wants to be a Jewish state. To be a Jewish state, you clearly have to resolve the issue of two states. If you don’t, and you were a unitary state and people have equal rights to vote and participate as citizens, is Israel going to have a Palestinian prime minister? I don’t think so. I don’t think so. Not going to happen.

So therefore, what is the solution here? How do you move forward? And what we’re trying to do is evenhandedly and hopefully thoughtfully strengthen Israel’s ability to be free of rockets – not strengthen; to make it free of rockets, to end this perpetual conflict in a way that provides for the complete security of Israel, which has a right, totally, to be free of tunnels coming into its country, terrorists jumping out of a tunnel with handcuffs, with tranquilizer drugs, guns next to a kibbutz – that’s – no country would tolerate that.

QUESTION: Do you think it’s time for you or the President or someone to be a little bit more evocative in terms of defining what you think a deal would like (inaudible)?

SECRETARY KERRY: No, I think we need to work quietly and effectively, and we condemn anybody who uses language such as was used in this article. That does not reflect the President, it does not reflect me. It is disgraceful, unacceptable, damaging, and I think neither President Obama nor I – I’ve never heard that word around me in the White House or anywhere – I don’t know who these anonymous people are who keep getting quoted in things. But they make life much more difficult, and we are proud of what we have done to help Israel through a very difficult time.

President Obama is the person who committed to Iron Dome. He made it happen. President Obama has consistently been – he was supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself in the recent – obviously, in this recent war. But at the same time, the President wants to try to nurse the parties together to resolve these differences.

Now, in Iraq, if we didn’t get engaged, I don’t know where ISIL would be today. Maybe in Baghdad; there’d be a hell of a war going on there for sure. Iran may move in even more so to protect the Shia interests in an 80 percent Shia country. What would happen then with Assad and deterioration if ISIL commanded even more territory, it would be a – it already is unprecedented as a terror group in the amount of land, money, and assets that it controls. And it has already threatened Europe, the West, others directly.

So you have no choice here. You have to engage in a way – now, I think we’ve engaged thoughtfully. We built a coalition that for the first time ever has brought together five Arab countries that have actually dropped bombs in Syria against Sunni extremists – unprecedented.

QUESTION: I didn’t think it was possible, actually.

SECRETARY KERRY: Unprecedented. And we are carefully trying to nurse this forward so the Iraqi army does the fighting. The Iraqi army comes back, but not an army that represents one person or one sect; that has a national identity and can bring the Shia – the Sunni tribes in Anbar to the table to reclaim the country. Yesterday in Amiriyah we made some gains – in Zumar, a city south of Mosul, they took it back. This will be slow, it will take time. We’ve been honest with the American people and the world. It’s not going to happen overnight. But it is the best way to push back against religious extremism, and we have united all of the countries in the region in that endeavor. We are flying airplanes into Syria, and Syria’s not trying to shoot them down. We are targeting ISIL; we are trying to build a force that can have an impact on Assad’s decision making so we can get back to a table where we could negotiate a political outcome, because we all know there is no military resolution of Syria.

So that’s where we’re trying to get back to, and we reached out to the Russians. There have been conversations with Iranians, conversations with the Saudis. We’re trying to pull people together.

QUESTION: We’re at the end of our time. There’s so many topics – your views on Assad and his survivability, and others. But I just want to finish – and we really are out of time – but on Iran. If I was thinking about Walter Isaacson’s book on you, which he no doubt will write. He wrote “Kissinger” – we’ve seen Walter up here. He wrote the book, “Kissinger.” If he was writing the book “Kerry” and the opening chapter – I’m interested in whether that entails a deal you helped put together on Iran or not. Yesterday Susan Rice gave a deal a 50/50 chance, which was somewhat higher than I thought it might have. But I’m interested in what happens if a deal with Iran is not achieved. What does the world look like in your world if we don’t go that way? Because it seems then there isn’t a Nixon-goes-to-China moment out there to sort of recreate the sense that America can re-sculpt the global international system.

SECRETARY KERRY: No, we’re living in a very different time. As I said, nations are more developed, they’re more assertive, and it’s not a moment like that. But that doesn’t make diplomacy any less important. It’s in fact more important in many ways, because we don’t have the bipolarity that existed for those 70 years or so. We are working in a very different format. I think the first I’d urge Walter Isaacson if he actually wanted to do that is don’t write the first chapter right now. (Laughter.)

But my – look, I – I’m directly involved, obviously. I’m negotiating face to face with Minister Zarif.

QUESTION: But what odds do you give it?

SECRETARY KERRY: I don’t. I’m not going to give it odds. As I said to the President recently, I’m not going to express optimism; I’m going to express hope —

QUESTION: Okay.

SECRETARY KERRY: — and I think achieving it is critical. But I will say this to everybody: We’ve set a very clear standard. There are four present pathways to a bomb for Iran – the hidden so-called secret facility in a mountain called Fordow, the open Natanz enrichment facility, the plutonium heavy-water reactor called Arak, and then, of course, covert activities. We’ve pledged that our goal is to shut off each pathway sufficient that we know we have a breakout time of a minimum of a year that gives us the opportunity to respond if they were to try to do that.

We’re – we believe there are ways to achieve that. Whether Iran can make the tough decisions that it needs to make will be determined in the next weeks, but I have said consistently that no deal is better than a bad deal. And we’re going to be very careful, very much based on expert advice, fact, science as to the choices we make. This must not be a common ideological or a political decision. And if we can do what we’ve said, what the President set out in his policy – the President said they will not get a bomb. If we could take this moment of history and change this dynamic, the world would be a lot safer and we’d avoid a huge arms race in the region where Saudis, Emiratis, Egyptians, others may decide that if they’re moving towards a bomb, they got to move there too, and obviously it’s a much more dangerous world. And that is not a part of the world where you want massive uninspected, unverified, nontransparent nuclear activities. So that’s what we’re trying to do.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you.

QUESTION: Ladies and gentlemen, Secretary of State John Kerry. (Applause.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all. Thanks very much.

Two Europes or One Europe?

European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Valedictory speech by President Barroso

European Parliament plenary session

Strasbourg, 21 October 2014

Mr President, Honourable Members,

First of all, I would like to thank you for the invitation to address this Parliament in what would be the last time I have this opportunity. In fact, we are coming to the end of my second mandate as the President of the European Commission and I am very happy to be here with you and my colleagues to present to you our bilan, since this is my second Commission, I think I can also refer to the last ten years.

I want to share with you my feelings, my emotions, what I think about the way the European Union has responded to these very challenging times and what I think are the most important challenges for the future.

I think you can agree with me that these have been exceptional and challenging times. Ten years of crisis, and response of the European Union to this crisis. Not only the financial and sovereignty debt crisis – let’s not forget at the beginning of my first mandate we had a constitutional crisis, when two founding members of the European Union rejected, in referenda, the Constitutional Treaty. So we had a constitutional crisis, we had a sovereign debt and financial crisis, and in the most acute terms we now have a geopolitical crisis, as a result of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The constitutional crisis that we had was in fact solved through the Lisbon Constitutional Treaty. The reality is that at that time, many people were saying that it would be impossible for the European Union to find a new institutional setting. And in fact there were moments of ambiguity and doubt. But basically, we could keep most of the acquis of the European Union, including most of the new elements of the Lisbon Constitutional Treaty, which was ratified by all Member States including those that today seem to have forgotten that they have ratified the Lisbon Treaty.

More recently – because I learned to leave to the end the economic issues because they are still with us – we had this very serious challenge and threat to our stability, in Europe, coming from the unacceptable behaviour of Russia regarding Ukraine. And we took a principled position. We offered Ukraine an association agreement and a free trade agreement and I am happy that, in spite of all the difficulties, Ukraine was there, signing and ratifying the association agreement, and I want to congratulate this Parliament, because the same day at the same hour the Parliament in Ukraine was ratifying this agreement, you were also ratifying the agreement showing you can offer hope to Ukraine as part of the European family of nations.

At the moment I am speaking to you, this crisis is not yet solved – we know that. But I think we can be proud that we have kept a position of principle, that we have condemned in the most unequivocal terms the actions of Russia and that in fact an association agreement was ratified, not only with Ukraine, but also with Georgia and Moldova because I believe we have a duty to those countries that are looking to Europe with their spirit and their hope to share with us the same future and because they want to share with us the same values.

At this moment we are still mediating and, today, there is a meeting mediated by the Commission on energy with the Russian government and the Ukrainian government, so a political negotiated solution is possible, we are working for that. It is in the interest of all the parties to have a political agreement, but a political agreement that respects the principles of international law, a political agreement that respects the right of country that is our neighbour to decide its own future and a political agreement that respects the sovereignty, the independence of that country. So, we should be proud of what we have been doing in this very challenging geopolitical crisis.

And we also had the financial and sovereign debt crisis. The reality is that the crisis was not born in Europe, but the fact is that because we were not prepared, because the Euro-area had not yet the instruments, we were very much affected by it – not only in financial terms, in economic terms, in social terms and in political terms. I think this crisis was probably the biggest since the beginning of the European integration process in the 50s of the last century. Let’s now put things into perspective.

Dear Members of Parliament,

Let’s remind ourselves what was the main opinion of most analysts in the economic and financial media, or even many of our countries or outside of Europe, about what could happen: everybody was predicting Greek exit, Greece exiting the Euro, and, of course, Greece exiting Euro would certainly, immediately have had a cascading effect in other countries, a domino effect that was indeed already felt in countries such as Ireland or Portugal. But let’s not forget, Spain was also under very heavy pressure, and Italy. We were staring into the abyss. I remember well what happened in discussions in the margins of G20 in Cannes in 2011, I remember well when analysts were predicting with almost unanimity a Greek exit and at least 50% of them were predicting the implosion of the Euro. And what happened? Not only was there no exit of the Euro, now we are to welcome the 19th member of the Euro, Lithuania will join us in the 1st of January 2015. And not only did Greece not leave the Euro area, it has enlarged and the European Union has been enlarging as well. This is a point that has been very much underestimated in our analysis.

2004, the year I had the pleasure and the honour to assume the leadership of the European Commission, do you remember that we were 15? Today, we have 28 countries. So we have almost doubled the membership of the European Union during this crisis. Is there a better proof of the resilience and the capacity of adaptation of our Union? The fact that we were able to remain united and open during the crisis I think confirms the extraordinary resilience and the strength of the European Union and this should not be underestimated.

I know that, for some, these things do not count for much. They are in a way making an idealisation of the past; they dream probably of a closed Europe; they think Europe was better when half of Europe was under totalitarian communism. I don’t think that. I think Europe today is better than when half of Europe was under communism. The fact that the European Union was able, during all this crisis, to open, to consolidate and to unite on a continental scale almost all of Europe around the values of peace, of freedom and of justice, I think it is a great thing we should commemorate and not to be ashamed of, as some seem to be.

So, this is I think also a reason to commemorate. Many people were predicting, as you probably remember, those of you following these issues at that time, that the European Commission would not be able to function with 25 or 27 or 28 Members, that the European Union would be blocked. The reality is that the European Union was not blocked by the enlargement; the reality that I can share with you now is that sometimes it was more difficult to put together some of the founding Members of the Union than all the 28 countries of Europe.

So I think we should be proud of that as well, collectively, because the European Union was able to remain united and open during the crisis. And when I say open, I mean it in all senses of the word, including with an open attitude towards the world. For instance, when we have promoted a proactive climate agenda after the failure of the Doha Development Round and the Doha trade talks. And we are now leading in that sense, because I believe that trade can be one of the best ways to support growth globally and in the European Union. Or when we, because it was an initiative of the European Union, went to the former President of the United States of America, inviting him and convincing him to organise the first G20 meeting at Heads of State or Government level, because that was a way of having a global cooperative approach and to avoid the return to ugly, nasty protectionism. That could be a temptation in times of crisis. So we were able to keep Europe not only united and, in fact, enlarging its membership, but also open to the rest of the world.

But now, are we stronger or are we weaker? I know that the most critical people today will say that we are weaker. But are we really?

In fact, when the crisis erupted, we had almost no instruments to respond to it. We were facing, as it was said at that time, an unprecedented crisis. Yet we had no mechanisms, for instance to support the countries that were facing the immediate threat of default. A lot has been done. We have collectively, the Commission and the Member States and always with the strong support of the Parliament, we have created a new system of governance. We have today a much more reinforced governance system than before, including with unprecedented powers for the community institutions, and we have done everything to keep the community method at the centre of our integration. For instance, the Commission today has more powers in terms of governance of the Eurozone than before the crisis. The European Central Bank has today the possibility to make direct supervision of the banks in Europe, something that would have been considered impossible earlier; it would have been almost unimaginable before the crisis. And I remember when we spoke about the banking union, when I gave an interview saying that we need a banking union, I received some phone calls from capitals saying ‘Why are you speaking about the banking union? This is not in the Treaties’. And I responded, ‘Yes it is not in the Treaties, but we need it if we want to fulfil the objective of the Treaties, namely the objective of stability and growth’. And today we have a banking union.

Honourable members,

If we look at things in perspective and we think where we were ten years ago and where we are now, we can say with full rigour and in complete observance of the truth that today the European Union, at least in the euro area, is more integrated and with reinforced competences, and we have now, through the community method, more ways to tackle crisis, namely in the euro zone. Not only in the system of governance in the banking union, but also in the legislation of financial stability, financial regulation, financial supervision.

We have presented around 40 new pieces of legislation that were all of them approved by the European Parliament. And once again I want to thank you, because in almost all those debates the European Parliament and the European Commission were on the same side of the debate and were for more ambition, not less ambition for Europe. And so today, I can say that we are stronger, because we have a more integrated system of governance, because we have legislation to tackle abuses in the financial markets, because we have much clearer system of supervision and regulation. So, I think we are now better prepared than we were before to face a crisis, if a crisis like the ones we have seen before should come in the future.

Of course, you can say that there are many difficulties still. Yes, and I am going to say a word about this in a moment regarding the prospects for growth, but please do not forget where we were. We were very close to default, or, to use a less polite word, to a bankruptcy of some of our Member States. And look at where we are now. From the countries that had to ask for adjustment programmes, Portugal and Ireland exited the programme successfully. Ireland is now one of the fastest growing countries in Europe. And in fact all the others that were under the imminent threat of collapsing, are now in a much more stable mood. Spain, that asked for a programme for the banks, also has improved successfully. So in fact only two countries of all those, because we should not also forget the Central and Eastern European countries that also had adjustment programmes, even if they were not yet in the euro area, only two countries are still completing their adjustment programmes.

The deficits now on average in the Eurozone are 2.5%. This is much less than in the United States or in Japan. So, in terms of stability, we are much better now than before. By the way, the Eurozone has a trade surplus. The European Union in general now will have a surplus in goods, in services and, for the first time in many years, in agriculture.

I am saying that because very often the opinion in some of the political sectors is that we are losing with globalisation. This is not the case. Some countries of our Union in fact are not winning that battle, but on average we can say that Europe is gaining the global battle in terms of competition, namely in terms of trade and investment.

But of course, growth is still timid. I think that basically we cannot say that the crisis is completely over, because threats remain, but we have won the battle of stability. Today nobody in the world will honestly bet on the end of the euro. The euro has shown that it is a very strong, credible and indeed stable currency. The reality is that our growth is still timid and clearly below expectations.

So what can we do for growth? This is the important question. And for that I need to make a reminder once again. I know very well that very often the European Union policy and namely the European Commission policy has been presented as completely focused on austerity. I think this is a caricature.

We have constantly asked at least for three important lines – fiscal consolidation certainly, for the countries that are feeling the pressure of the markets. It would be completely irresponsible if they could not frontload a programme of rigour to correct their public finances, but we have always said with equal vigour, probably some would not like to listen, the need for structural reforms, for competitiveness, because the reality is that even before the crisis we were growing under our potential, that is the reality, and with serious problem of lack of competitiveness in some of our countries and so that is why we needed more ambitious structural reforms.

But we have also argued in favour of investment. I have always said that we need more investment, public and private investment. Private investment will come the more we show that we have competitive economies that we can attract private investment. Indeed I am now happy to see that most of our countries, certainly at a different pace, but they are pursuing ambitious structural reforms that would have been considered completely impossible before the crisis.

And the reality is, if we want to be honest in terms of the analysis that the countries that have suffered the most during the financial crisis were precisely those that have lost in terms of cost competitiveness before the crisis. And now, for instance the reforms that have been made by Spain, by Ireland, by Portugal, by Greece, are impressive.

Now, apart from the political consolidation and the structural reforms, we have always seen the need for more investment. Private investment, but public investment as well. You will remember the debate about the MFF. President Schultz remembers certainly. We were together in many meetings asking the Member States to do more in terms of investment and the most important instrument we have at European level for investment is the Multiannual Financial Framework, that is around one trillion euros.

So if there is not more ambitious investment it was not because of a lack of ambition of this Commission, or a lack of ambition of this Parliament. It was because of the opposition of some capitals. This is the reality. We are for solid investment, targeted investment for growth. Not only with the MFF. Remember the proposals that for instance here in the State of the Union speeches with you I have put forward. The increase of the capital for the EIB that finally was agreed. The project bonds that the Member States have accepted, but only as pilot project bonds. The facility that we have created for SMEs with loans from the EIB and funds from the structural funds, from our budget. Unfortunately only two countries wanted to pursue that line.

Or, for instance, the programme for youth, the Youth Guarantee that we have proposed and that the Member States have agreed. But now with the Youth Employment Initiative, only two countries have accepted to have a dedicated programme for youth employment.

So, my dear colleagues, let’s be clear: we are for investment. I wish all the best to the new Commission and to my friend and colleague Jean-Claude Juncker, to have the support of the Member States for a more ambitious investment programme for the next years. I believe this is possible now, I believe the awareness is much bigger on this matter. But once again this is part of a comprehensive strategy that combines fiscal consolidation with structural reforms and investment, and, of course, all the measures taken by us in terms of the banking union and in terms of financial regulation for stability.

And I’m saying this with this vigour because I think it would be now a mistake, after everything we have done, to give up, to show less determination, to abandon the road of structural reform. I think we have done a part of the job, stability is broadly there, growth, even if it is slower than what we would like to have, but now we need determination to complete the reforms so that sustainable growth, not growth fuelled by debt, excessive public or private debt – because such growth is artificial, it’s a fictional growth, and afterwards, sooner or later, we would pay the price – but sustainable growth – that I believe it is possible if we continue the courageous path of reforms and a stronger governance for the European Union.

I don’t have the time now to go over all the other policies we have been developing over the years. But let me just highlight one or two, because I think they are very much at the moment of decision, and I think they are important.

I’m extremely proud that is was my Commission in my first mandate, in 2007, that put forward the most ambitious programme for climate protection in the world. And we are still leading in the world in terms of the climate agenda.

In fact, we were able to join the climate agenda with the energy security agenda, and I’m saying that because this week we are going to have an important discussion in Brussels at Heads of State and Government level, and I hope that the European Union will keep its leadership role – of course not to be isolated but to have others, because we have a responsibility towards our planet. And this is was certainly one of the great advances of these years, that the European Union was able to make the most important and bold steps in terms of fighting climate change.

Another area where I think we could very proud is – in spite of all the restrictions because of our financial situation – that it was possible in the MFF to get 30% more for Horizon 2020, for research and technology. I think there is a great opportunity now for us to do more in that area, as also in the culture side, with our Creative Europe programme.

The reality is that in some areas it was possible, in spite of the economic and financial crisis, to increase investment at European level.

But I’m also very proud that in spite of the pressures of our budgets, we could always be there in terms of development aid and neighbourhood policy.

Whenever there was a big tragedy in the world, from the tsunami in Indonesia to the recent Ebola crisis, from the Syrian refugee crisis to Darfur, we were there, we were among the first. And I think we, Europeans, should also be proud of that, because we are still, together with our Member States, the most important donor for development aid in the world. That is something that corresponds very much to our values and I’m happy that in spite of all the crises we did not abandon our obligations in terms of development cooperation.

I have already said a word about trade. I think it is very important to keep an ambitious trade agenda, an open Europe but for free and fair trade. And the Commission has concluded a record number of agreements, not only with South Korea, Singapore, Central America – the first region to reach an agreement -, Peru, Ecuador, recently with Canada, with Western Africa, Eastern Africa and Southern Africa. And I could also mention some others that are now progressing, like Japan, the United States and also an investment agreement with China.

So we are the most important trade bloc in the world. We are the biggest economy in the world.

And I’m saying that because today I know it’s very fashionable the pessimism, the defeatism about Europe, what I call the intellectual glamour of pessimism. But I believe that we have a good record to show and I believe that together, collectively, we are much stronger and we can better defend our interests and protect our values.

Dear colleagues – I call you colleagues because I believe we have been sometimes in discussions but we have been colleagues in this great enterprise that is the European project -, I think politically we have some lessons to draw.

One is that we have shown great resilience. I think we can say that the forces of integration are stronger than the forces of disintegration. And I believed that day and night, sometimes in very dramatic moments, sometimes when I had to make dramatic appeals to some capitals: to the richer countries, asking them to show more solidarity; and to the poorer countries asking them to show more responsibility.

Sometimes we have done it very discretely, it’s true. The European Commission is probably more discreet than others. I did not want the Commission to be part of the cacophony of different voices during the most acute moments of the crisis. It was extremely market sensitive that situation. But I can tell you, in my full conscience, that we have done everything we could with existing instruments to avoid the fragmentation of the euro or to avoid a division in the European Union. And I very often had to call on my colleagues in the European Council, Heads of State and Government, to show the ethics of European responsibility.

But one of the lessons I draw from this is that if eventually it was possible to come to decisions, it is true that it was sometimes extremely painful and difficult. And took time. We have said also, and I think it is something that we can all agree: democracy is slower than the markets are.

The Commission would have preferred, and I’m sure this Parliament as well, decisions to be bolder, more comprehensive, faster. But we are a Union of democratic states, we are not a super state. And we have to respect different sensitivities.

One of the conclusions I draw from these ten years of experiences is the need to cooperate between institutions. I know sometimes it is more popular to put forward impossible ideas and to criticise others. But I firmly believe that we need to engage with different institutions, that it is not a solution to oppose the countries to the European Union. On the contrary, we have to show to our countries that they are stronger if they are part of the European Union. That we are not diluting their national identity but, on the contrary, we are asking them to share their sovereignty so they can project better their interests globally. I’m firmly convinced of this.

And I’m saying this to you now, as I am leaving in a few days: my only interest is that these lessons are learned so that we do not repeat some mistakes in the future. At the same time, I think we can say that it is not through confrontation but through cooperation that we can attain our objectives.

At the moment I prepare to hand over this very challenging and interesting job to my good friend Jean-Claude Juncker, I want to say here, on my behalf and on behalf of all my colleagues of the Commission, that we wish the new Commission all the best, that they have a great challenge ahead of them but that they could count also on our support. And I’m sure of the support that this Parliament is going to give to them.

Because, Mr President, the relations were not always perfect. But I think you can agree that we were able to establish a fruitful relationship between the Parliament and the Commission.

I’ve been in this Parliament more than 100 times. There was never a Commission that was so often represented in the Parliament as my two Commissions. We have established this cooperation and I’m so grateful because this Parliament, sometimes with very strong demands, was always supportive of the community method, was always supporting the community institutions. And I believe this is very important for the future of Europe.

My dear colleagues of the European project,

The way to solve the problems we have in Europe is not through revolution and even less through counter-revolution. It’s by compromise, it’s by reform. Evolution and reform. We have to reform to adapt to the new challenges but not with new clashes between the institutions, not with clashes against our countries. And I believe that if this idea of strong cooperation putting the European common good above all else, I think my colleague and friend Jean-Claude Juncker and his new Commission will have success, of course based on the support I’m sure you are going to give them.

Because the European Union is a union of values. In these last days I had to face many journalists and they asked me ‘what was your most emotional moment? Which moment did you prefer?’ And I have many, and I also had very difficult ones, to be honest. But one of my most emotional moment was when, on behalf of the European Union, together with Martin Schulz and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, we received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the European Union.

I think this was a powerful reminder sent to us from the global community that we count in this world and that what we do is very important. That the values that were at the origin of the creation of our Union, namely the value of peace, are still at our essence today. And that we have to fight for them.

And I think is the moment I really said I want to share with all those in the different institutions, including this Parliament, that have been working for a united, open and stronger Europe. And when I leave this office, with all my colleagues at the Commission, I can tell you that we have not achieved everything we could, or everything we would have liked to have achieved, but I think we have worked with the right conscience, putting the global interest of the European Union above specific interests. And I believe that now there are conditions to continue to do work for a united, open and stronger Europe.

I thank you for your attention.

Auf wiedersehen, goodbye, au revoir, adeus.

Muito obrigado, thank you very much.

Following the statements of the Members of the Parliament, President Barroso made the following closing remarks:

Mr President,

I should like to take up a number of the points raised by the previous speakers. Firstly, I believe that proof that we – and by “we” I mean the Commission of which I have had the honour of being Presidentare on the right track lies in the fact that the criticisms have come from the opposite ends of the spectrum, though often couched in the same terms, resolutely ignoring the difficulties and extraordinary challenges that we have had to face and failing to put forward any coherent response.

The truth is that we have been through possibly the worst economic and financial crisis we have seen since the countries of Europe began to come together and that it was not the European Union or Europe that spawned the crisis. This is what some defenders of national sovereignty, as they like to call themselves, do not or will not understand. It was not Europe that created excessive private debt or caused the financial sector to behave irresponsibly. Quite the opposite – this all took place under national scrutiny, or rather lack thereof. Europe is the answer. We now have one of the most ambitious regulatory and supervisory systems in the world, if not the most ambitious. In other words, saying that Europe is worse off because of the European Union is simply not true. It shows a complete lack of respect and a lack of intellectual rigour. Europe is not responsible for the financial crisis, which had its roots in the United States. Europe had its weaknesses, but what the European Union did was to respond. The blame for this does not lie with the European Union, and I believe this is something that all those who share the European ideal – be they at the left, right or centre of the political spectrum – should have the courage to state, because by remaining silent we will be reinforcing the populist rhetoric of the extreme right and extreme left.

I listened carefully to those of you who said that populism was on the rise and who laid the blame for this at the door of the European Union. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not true. It is abundantly clear that populism and xenophobia exist outside the European Union. Look at the anti-immigrant incidents that have taken place in Switzerland. Look at what happened in Norway when that terrorist killed all those young people because he was opposed to a multicultural Europe. Look at the Tea Party movement in the United States. Is Europe to blame for America’s Tea Party movement?

We are currently seeing an aggressive form of populism around the world, which espouses arguments from both the left and the right. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference. So to say the European Union is responsible for this shows a lack of intellectual rigour and a lack of political integrity. What we have to do, as Europeans, is to demonstrate that it was not Europe that caused the crisis or the public debt in the Member States. There was little that Europe could do when, for example, one Member State falsified its accounts. This is something Europe had to face. The first initiative of my second Commission was to ask the Member States to give us more powers to supervise national statistics, because in my first Commission this was rejected. And not by Greece. It was rejected by the big Member States, which were reluctant to hand more powers over to the European Union. So if we really want to have a debate, let us be quite clear and strict in terms of intellectual integrity and political candour.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is one thing that I would like to say to you with the greatest of conviction. The team that I have had the honour of heading has worked with enormous commitment and diligence, whilst always putting Europe’s interests first. There is something that I want to say to you, since this is a political assembly with a wealth of political dynamics, but where the emphasis is always on the common European good. My Commission was not made up of colleagues from the EPP, socialists or liberals. It was made up of people who worked for Europe. My party is the EPP and I am proud of that, but, as President of the Commission, my party is Europe and that is the message I wish to convey, in particular to the major forces of the pro-European centre-left and centre-right.  Differences must, of course, be aired, but they must not be allowed to weaken the pro-European camps. We cannot hand the extreme right or extreme left anything else on a plate. Pro-European forces must come together. They must have the courage to defend Europe. They must do so at national level, and not just here in Strasbourg. We need a major coalition of this nature for Europe because I believe that we have the strength to win the battles of the present and those of the future.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Para uma União da Inovação mais forte, coesa e aberta – Working for a Strong, Cohesive and Open Innovation Union

Comissão europeia

[Só faz fé o texto proferido]

José Manuel Durão Barroso

Presidente da Comissão Europeia

Para uma União da Inovação mais forte, coesa e aberta – Working for a Strong, Cohesive and Open Innovation Union

O futuro da Europa é a ciência

Lisboa, 6 outubro 2014

Sua Excelência o Senhor Presidente da República,

Senhora Secretária de Estado,

Senhora Presidente do Conselho de Administração da Fundação Champalimaud, cara Dra. Leonor Beleza,

Senhora Comissária, Dear Máire Geoghegan-Quinn,

Senhor Comissário indigitado, meu caro Eng. Carlos Moedas,

Minhas Senhoras e meus Senhores,

Ilustres convidados,

Caros amigos,

Tenho muito prazer em estar aqui hoje convosco para vos falar do papel da ciência no futuro da Europa. Gostaria de começar por agradecer à Senhora Presidente da Fundação Champalimaud, Dra. Leonor Beleza, por nos acolher nesta impressionante sede de uma instituição que em relativamente pouco tempo já ganhou reconhecimento nacional e internacional pelo seu trabalho ao serviço da ciência. Quero de modo muito especial agradecer ao Senhor Presidente da República pela honra que nos dá ao ter dito sim quando o convidei para presidir à abertura desta conferência.

De fato, não poderíamos ter escolhido um sítio melhor do que Lisboa para realizar a conferência. A sensibilidade para a descoberta e para a abertura a novos horizontes faz parte do ADN de Portugal!

E as novas gerações têm honrado esse legado, como foi brilhantemente demonstrado pelos jovens João Pedro Estácio Gaspar Gonçalves de Araújo, Mariana de Pinho Garcia e Matilde Gonçalves Moreira da Silva, que há menos de duas semanas foram reconhecidos entre os melhores jovens cientistas da Europa por ocasião do 26.º Concurso da União Europeia para Jovens Cientistas realizado em Varsóvia.

E também não teria sido possível escolher melhor sítio que a Fundação Champalimaud, que não só é um centro de excelência em investigação sobre a saúde, como também uma instituição muito empenhada em divulgar a educação científica junto do público em Portugal. A atitude dos cidadãos em relação à ciência é, sem dúvida, um aspeto crucial que importa ter em consideração. O progresso científico deve ser devidamente explicado para poder ser bem recebido, em vez de ser encarado, com muitas vezes acontece, com injustiçadas dúvidas ou até perniciosas resistências.

Esta conferência não poderia ocorrer em melhor altura, pois é precisamente nesta semana que se procede a entrega dos Prémios Nobel, que se iniciou esta manhã com o Prémio Nobel da Medicina de 2014 – cujos vencedores, como já foi dito, foram John O’Keefe, May-Britt Moser e Edvard Moser, que felicito muito sinceramente. E é com grande orgulho que o faço, pois estes últimos dois neurocientistas, apesar de trabalharem na Noruega, foram ambos bolseiros do Conselho Europeu de Investigação (ERC).

Quero também agradecer muito a presença entre nós do Prémio Nobel da Física, Serge Haroche, que participará logo a seguir numa das mesas redondas, e a todos os outros eminentes cientistas, empresários e membros da sociedade civil que quiseram juntar-se a nós nestes dois dias de importantes reflexões.

A Comissão Europeia tem vindo a colocar a ciência, a investigação e a inovação no centro da agenda europeia. Para construir uma Europa forte, unida e aberta neste domínio, a Comissão tem desempenhado um importante papel procurando soluções para os problemas, estabelecendo pontes e promovendo os nossos princípios fundamentais.

A ciência, a investigação e a inovação são áreas a que tenho dedicado especial atenção desde o início do meu mandato de dez anos como Presidente da Comissão Europeia. Os alicerces foram criados ao longo dos anos: desde a criação do Instituto Europeu de Inovação e Tecnologia (EIT) e do altamente reputado Conselho Europeu de Investigação – European Research Council -, à participação da Europa em grandes projetos científicos como por exemplo – um dos maiores em curso no mundo – o Reator Termonuclear Experimental Internacional (ITER), cujos progressos constatei pessoalmente durante a visita que efetuei em julho a Cadarache, em França, na sede do projeto.

A razão pela qual dedico uma atenção especial a este setor está relacionada com a grande esperança na ciência, na grande confiança que tenho nas capacidades da mente humana e numa sociedade criativa para solucionar os seus problemas. O mundo está a mudar drasticamente, a uma velocidade nunca vista. Acredito que muitas das soluções, na Europa e fora dela, virão de novos estudos científicos e das novas tecnologias. Gostaria de ver a Europa a liderar esse esforço a nível global, o que será determinante para o futuro bem-estar e a prosperidade das nossas sociedades e para a influência europeia a nível global.

A verdade é que foi possível, mesmo em momentos de grandes dificuldades financeiras, colocar a investigação no centro da estratégia para o crescimento e para o emprego – a Estratégia Europa 2020: com o objetivo de criar condições favoráveis à inovação; promover o dinamismo da União da Inovação; lutar por um maior investimento na inovação, na tecnologia e no papel da ciência.

Gostaria de aproveitar esta oportunidade para enaltecer o trabalho incansável e muito competente da Comissária para a Investigação, a Inovação e a Ciência, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, em prol da obtenção de resultados concretos num setor com tão grandes ambições. Muito a ela se deve, nomeadamente na luta de persuasão de alguns Governos no sentido de nos apoiarem em relação a um orçamento mais ambicioso para a investigação.

Acredito igualmente – e tive experiência direta disso durante estes anos – na importância da competência científica independente e consistente. De facto, a Comissão Europeia é muitas vezes chamada a tomar decisões que são extremamente complexas do ponto de vista técnico e que têm profundas repercussões do ponto de vista social, e até, muitas vezes, implicações de um ponto de vista ético. E penso que essas decisões devem ser sustentadas numa abordagem científica.

Foi por essa razão que decidi criar o cargo de conselheiro científico principal do Presidente da Comissão Europeia, exercido pela Professora Anne Glover, e também criamos o Conselho Consultivo para a Ciência e Tecnologia (STAC), que nos aconselha e apoia nos domínios da ciência e da tecnologia.

Dado que o progresso da ciência levanta por vezes questões éticas, a Comissão Europeia é também aconselhada pelo Grupo Europeu de Ética para as Ciências e as Novas Tecnologias, um organismo independente, pluralista e pluridisciplinar, cujo papel se encontra já bem consolidado.

Dado que há muito a fazer quando se aceita a ideia de que a mudança é uma oportunidade de melhorar; e que as novas formas de pensar e os novos dados podem obrigar-nos a abandonar visões por vezes antiquadas do mundo e a aceitar algo de novo, dei também o meu pleno apoio a várias iniciativas prospetivas no âmbito da Comissão Europeia, desde o projeto ESPAS (European Strategy and Policy Analysis System) à criação de uma rede interna em matéria de prospetiva, que cobre também o domínio científico.

Penso que estes exercícios prospetivos são realmente necessários pois, embora a incerteza faça sempre parte da decisão política, a falta de antecipação política adequada pode e deve ser evitada. Os decisores políticos precisam de dispor de alternativas de políticas públicas bem informadas que lhes permitam tomar decisões claras e estratégicas a médio e longo prazo.

Por isso solicitei, portanto, ao meu Conselho Consultivo para a Ciência e Tecnologia (STAC) que se debruçasse sobre estas questões e que elaborasse um relatório sob o lema «O futuro da Europa é a ciência». É precisamente disso que se trata: identificar os desafios e as oportunidades que a ciência, a tecnologia e a inovação colocam à Europa e formular uma série de recomendações em três domínios diferentes, todos eles de importância primordial para os cidadãos europeus: o futuro da sua saúde, o futuro do trabalho e o futuro do ambiente.

Queria aproveitar esta oportunidade para agradecer publicamente aos membros do STAC. Sempre trabalhámos juntos, de uma forma aberta e construtiva. Sempre valorizei o seu aconselhamento e congratulo-me com o relatório que é hoje mesmo publicado na ocasião da realização da conferência.

Gostaria agora de vos explicar sucintamente o que significa uma Europa forte, unida e aberta do ponto de vista da Comissão Europeia no que se refere à ciência e à investigação.

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Contradicting what I call an intellectual glamour of pessimism about Europe, which unfortunately happens to be rather fashionable in some circles, we have to recognize that, when it comes to research and innovation, Europe is strong. Much stronger than what sometimes is publicly acknowledged. Europe is one of the leaders in science in the world!

We are not short of world-class researchers and innovators with the skills and ideas to drive Europe forward. And today’s audience is a perfect illustration of this. We have twice the number of science and technology graduates than in the United States; with 7% of the world’s population, we still produce roughly a third not only of the world’s GDP, but also of patents and high impact scientific publications; and despite the crisis almost all our Member States have improved their innovation performance; and we have been able to halve the innovation gap that we still have with the United States and Japan. While in science we are, in many areas, the number one in the world, in innovation we are not always in the first places.

But we cannot afford to rest on these laurels. We live in a world where scientific and technological progress is accelerating at an unprecedented pace, and where South Korea is moving further ahead, with China quickly catching us up. So we need to capitalize on our strengths and to address also some of our weaknesses.

From a European Commission’s perspective, this basically means to act as a problem-solver in an environment of scarce resources and under very challenging circumstances. This is what we have been doing over these last years.

The best illustration of this is certainly the new research programme Horizon 2020. This is a large framework programme with wide-ranging objectives from supporting excellence in science – with the European Research Council now chaired by Professor Bourguignon – to developing industrial leadership and addressing key societal challenges, allowing us to focus on the big priorities relevant to our citizens.

That said, as we are all aware, money is the crux of the matter. But despite very difficult financial conditions, we have managed to get our Member States closer to our objectives for research, with an increase of 30% through the new Horizon 2020 programme – around € 80 billion for the next seven years – which makes it today one of the most important scientific funding programmes in the world.

I have to say, to be honest with our Member States, that while in some areas they were very negative when we discussed the Multiannual Financial Programme for the next seven years regarding some expenditure, when it came to science there was, generally speaking, very good opening from our Member States considering the ambitious proposals of the Commission. And this is certainly a very important progress, compared to the situation in the past.

And because entrepreneurs, researchers, innovators cannot afford to have their energy and time drained with red tape, with Horizon 2020 red tape was sensibly reduced. All phases of the innovation cycle are now funded under a single platform.

More private investment has also been secured to address major societal challenges. Public-private partnerships are one of the key elements of Horizon 2020. The private sector has committed to invest nearly € 10 billion in Joint Technology Initiatives stimulating innovation in areas such as medicines, transport and bio-based industries. Together with EU and Member States funding, this amounts to a € 22 billion boost for growth and jobs in Europe over the next 7 years.

Another example of the European Commission acting as a problem-solver is the Risk Sharing Finance Facility that we have set up jointly with the European Investment Bank.

As you know, one of the major obstacles to getting innovation to the market is the insufficient availability of finance for new and innovative projects, particularly for SMEs. The principle of this Risk Sharing Finance Facility is that for every billion euro of European budget money, the European Investment Bank has mobilised € 12 billion in loans and over € 30 billion in final research and innovation investment. Concretely, this has led to additional resources of up to € 40 billion since 2007 for research and innovation activities, which would otherwise be left unfunded. Besides, a very substantial share of Horizon 2020 will be devoted to funding innovative SMEs which, no need to recall, form the backbone of the European economy.

And I am happy and even proud to add that after 30 years of negotiation, – because the Member States were not able to agree on a common position on that matter – we finally agreed a European-wide patent, even if there are two Member States that are outside the final agreement. This is a major step forward in our effort to deliver a more innovative-friendly business environment in Europe. We estimate that once fully implemented, this will reduce the cost by up to 80% for small and medium size business and individual researchers to register their creative ideas.

But clearly the European Commission’s actions are not enough. They are necessary but not sufficient. Our countries must also act as problem-solvers and our governments make an equal effort in research. Budgetary consolidation is certainly an essential prerequisite for sound growth and competitiveness. But investment in growth and jobs of the future are also vital. And if you want to invest in the future, you should think science, research and innovation!

Ladies and gentlemen,

A stronger Europe is also a more united Europe. And for Europe to be more united in the field of science, research and innovation, we have to address existing fragmentations, notably between academic and business worlds, between public and private sectors.

From a European Commission’s perspective this means to act as a bridge-builder and make the knowledge triangle work better in favour of new socio-economic benefits. This is what we have been doing over these last years, notably through the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) which I took the initiative to create during my first mandate and which was launched in 2008.

The EIT, and I recently visited the headquarters of the EIT in Budapest, precisely brings together the three strands of the knowledge triangle – higher education, research and innovation – and businesses, in new types of partnership, the so-called Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) operating so far in three areas, but we are going to enlarge them: sustainable energy, climate change and ICT; and with a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship. Until 2020, the EIT will be expanded to new areas and five new KICs will be created, as well as its outreach capacity that will be strengthened.

By 2020, the EIT is expected to train 10.000 Master students, 10.000 PhDs and create 600 new companies, and achieve systematic impact in the way universities, research centres and companies cooperate for innovation.

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions are also another good example of how to bridge gaps between sectors. Horizon 2020 will allow for the funding of 65.000 researchers under the new Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions which will combine research excellence with training on entrepreneurial skills; and encourage researchers to engage with industries and other employers during their fellowship.

A more united Europe depends also on an increased mobility of researchers and on the development of pan-European infrastructures. This is, as you know, the objective of the European Research Area: to have a real single market for knowledge, research and innovation. Good progress has been made. Most of the conditions for achieving a European Research Area are in place at the European level. The completion of this objective therefore now largely depends on national reforms and on national implementation. Member States are expected to present “European Research Area (ERA) roadmaps” by mid-2015, outlining their next steps towards the implementation of a true European single market for research.

And as it is just impossible to speak of a more cohesive Europe without referring to cohesion policy, I would like to mention that, to maximise territorial and social cohesion, Smart Specialisation Strategies are being developed with the support of the European Regional development Fund as well as other relevant funds, in order to make the most of the innovation potential of each region and each country across Europe. This is what we call the “Staircase to Excellence”, allowing all Member States to attain the best level in science with the support of European funding.

Finally, a stronger Europe is also an open Europe. When I had the great honour to deliver, together with my colleague, the President of the European Council, the acceptance speech of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the European Union in Oslo, I made a point about science and culture being at the core of our European project, precisely as a way of going beyond borders. I think it is very interesting that the idea of the European Union was, to some extent, to overcome borders and divisions and in science we know something about that. As Louis Pasteur said: “La science n’a pas de patrie.”

From a European Commission’s perspective this means to hold true to our Union founding values and principles by reaching out not only to our countries, but to all countries in the world. For example 15.000 out of the 65.000 researchers to be funded under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions will be non-EU researchers.

We are also promoting a dynamic science diplomacy. Horizon 2020, for example, is fully open to participation from international partner countries as shown by the agreement we recently signed with Israel. And I am happy that we have now found a solution to associate Switzerland to the Horizon 2020 programme that is one of the most important science and research funding programmes in the world.

We are also developing major dialogues on science and innovation with other world regions, notably with Africa. For instance, a year ago, we have agreed to start working towards a long-term jointly funded and co-owned research and innovation partnership with Africa, with a first focus on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture.

Another example is the decision taken with the United States and Canada, in May 2013, to join forces on Atlantic Ocean research, to better understand this Ocean and to promote the sustainable management of its resources.

That said, openness is not a one-way street. It has to be reciprocated. Our ongoing negotiations of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) contribute to the establishment of a level playing field with our international partners, with the aim of ensuring, in particular, equivalent protection of intellectual property rights. We are clearly aiming at promoting win-win situations, so as to foster international research and innovation opportunities.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have been through the worst financial, economic and social crisis since the start of European integration. This has clearly put our European model to the test. This was the biggest stress test ever in terms of European integration. Under these challenging circumstances, it was not easy to struggle to keep Europe united and open to the world, and to prepare Europe to emerge stronger and better prepared for the demands of globalisation, prepared to deal with demographic, technological and environmental challenges. A Europe ready to face the future.

In this process, the European Commission has always considered science and innovation as key strategic priorities for promoting a competitive European economy, but also a vibrant European society. We have been fully committed to create a more science and innovation-friendly environment. Because indeed “the future of Europe is science.”

And the discussions you will have later today and tomorrow on foresight will be an opportunity to highlight how much science and innovation are key to deliver on the issues which matter most for every European: health, jobs and therefore the society they live in and the economy. And there is no alternative: we have to deliver on these issues – crucially on jobs – to regain the trust of our citizens.

The reforms driven by the European Commission, and of course with our Member States, over the past five years are a solid foundation for that. Still a lot remains to be done. Science and innovation have to remain more than ever strategic priorities. But one thing I can tell you very sincerely after these ten years in the European Commission is that the European Union has demonstrated its great resilience. All those that were betting on the implosion of the euro or on the implosion of the European Union, were wrong. And one of the things that tie us together is, and should continue to be, science and the commitment to an open society where these ideas and this creativity can be kept and can be developed.

Let me conclude in Portuguese,

A título mais pessoal, quero manifestar hoje a minha satisfação por saber que a enorme responsabilidade de conduzir a ciência no futuro incumbirá ao meu compatriota e amigo, o Comissário português indigitado, Carlos Moedas. Gostaria de agradecer a sua presença hoje e estou confiante de que desenvolverá profundos esforços a favor da ciência, da investigação e da inovação. Desejo-lhe o melhor para as suas futuras funções. Para o futuro de Portugal e para o futuro da ciência na Europa!

E a todos vós desejo muito êxito nas discussões acerca do futuro da Europa e da ciência.

Muito obrigado pela vossa atenção.

Employment and Social Situation: Quarterly Review shows recovery still fragile

European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 6 October 2014

Employment and Social Situation: Quarterly Review shows recovery still fragile

The economic recovery which started in the spring of 2013 remains fragile and future employment developments remain uncertain, according the European Commission’s latest Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review.

The Review also takes a look at differences in income inequality among Member States, and underlines the relevance of investing in skills through life to increase the employability of workers.

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, commented: “Recent trends show that the economic recovery remains fragile and improvements are still timid. There is growth, but we still need to make sure that it becomes sustainable. Far from lowering our guard, we need to keep the efforts to support macro-economic and employment recovery in the EU“.

Employment has continued to grow in most sectors since mid-2013. The number of hours worked rose and, for the first time since 2011, there has been a small increase in full time contracts and improvements in the situation of young people. However, many of the new jobs created are part-time or temporary

Unemployment still remains close to historically high levels. And the long-term unemployed represent a large and growing share of total unemployment, with almost 13 million people having been unemployed for more than one year. Moreover, one in three unemployed people have spent more than two years without a job.

For young people, the situation has improved, with significant reductions in unemployment rates in most Member States. Nevertheless, youth unemployment remains very high in countries such as Greece and Spain. Among those who have a job, almost half are on temporary jobs and nearly a quarter works part-time. Member States need to continue their efforts to turn the Youth Guarantee into a reality to ensure that every young person gets help to find either a decent job or the opportunity to find training, experience or learning relevant to getting a job in the future The meeting of EU leaders on employment in Milan on 8 October will be a further occasion to give high level political impetus to implementing the Youth Guarantee.

Life-long learning increases chances to get a job

Developing relevant skills and putting them to the best use are essential to increase productivity, international competitiveness and a sustainable and inclusive growth in the EU. The review highlights that, as recent research by the OECD and the Commission shows, not only formal education but also training and skills acquired during working life improve the chances of finding a job. Furthermore, life-long learning also makes it more likely to have better paid positions.

However, the EU still lags behind countries such as Japan, Canada, Korea and the US in skills proficiency.

Measuring social progress

GDP as an indicator of economic performance needs to be complemented to capture other dimensions of the progress of societies. An analysis of income indicators reveals that, even during the years of economic expansion, economic growth did not benefit all households equally, nor did it contribute to reduce inequalities in all Member States. With the economic crisis, GDP per capita and gross disposable household incomes declined across the EU and have not yet returned to the pre-crisis levels in many countries.

This topic will be discussed in a high level expert conference on Moving beyond GDP in European economic governance which will take place in Brussels on the 10th of October 2014. It will take stock of recent technical and policy developments in the context of the ‘Beyond GDP’ debate, and will present practical policy options for the future.

For more information:

News item on DG Employment website

Access regularly updated data, charts and tables from the Quarterly Review in Excel format

Employment and social analysis

László Andor’s website

Follow @László AndorEU on Twitter

Subscribe to the European Commission’s free e-mail newsletter on employment, social affairs and inclusion

Secretary’s Remarks: U.S. Vision for Asia-Pacific Engagement

MR. MORRISON: Well, thank you. Aloha. I want to welcome everyone. And for our online audience, and also for the Secretary, I’d like to describe who is here in our audience. We have the mayor of Honolulu, Mayor Caldwell. We have our senator, Mazie Hirono. We have our former governor, George Ariyoshi, and our other former governor, John Waihee. We have many members of the business and intellectual and public affairs community here in Honolulu. We have members of the diplomatic corps. We have members of our men and women in uniform. We have the members of the board of governors of the East-West Center. We have the staff of the East-West Center. We have friends of the East-West Center. And most importantly, we have future leaders of the Asia Pacific region. And I was just telling the Secretary, I think yesterday we welcomed 130 new participants from the United States and 40 other countries. They’re here on a unique program to prepare them for being future regional and global leaders.

Now, how do you introduce a man who is so well-known for his own leadership and —

SECRETARY KERRY: First thing, you can just tell everybody to sit down.

MR. MORRISON: Oh. (Laughter.) Please sit down, yes. (Laughter.) Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Anyway, as you know, he has served in war and peace. He was a senator for 28 years; 59 million Americans voted for him for president, including 54 percent of the voters of Hawaii. (Laughter and applause.) But as a former senate staff person, I thought the way to really check him out was to see how his confirmation hearing went. Now, the issues were controversial but the nominee was not controversial, and what his former colleagues said about him, Republicans and Democrats, I think give the essence of the man: extremely well prepared, born in a Foreign Service family, served all 28 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, four years as the chairman of that committee. He knows the languages – several foreign languages, countries, leaders, and issues. He is a man of incredible moral and intellectual integrity. He brings conviction and compassion to his job and great energy. He has been, I think, on his seventh trip to Asia, coming back and so we want to welcome him back to the United States. We want to welcome him to our most Asia Pacific state, and we want to welcome him to the East-West Center, an institution that’s building community with this vast region which is so systemically important to the future of the United States.

Mr. Secretary of State. (Applause.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Well, good afternoon, everybody. Aloha. It’s wonderful to be here in Hawaii, and man, I can’t tell you how I wish I was as relaxed as some of you in your beautiful shirts. (Laughter.) Here I am in my – whatever you call it – uniform. Uniform, some would say. But it is such a pleasure to be here. Mr. Mayor, it’s great to be here with you. And Mazie, thank you. It’s wonderful to see you, Senator. I’m very happy to see you. Thanks for being here. And governors, thank you for being here very much.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests all, it’s a great, great pleasure for me to be able to be here. And President Morrison, thank you very much for that generous introduction. I appreciate it very much.

Charles was way ahead of the curve, folks, in seeing the trend towards regionalism in the Asia Pacific in the early 1990s. And he was calling for community-building within East Asia well before it became a standard topic of discussion on the think tank circuit. So clearly, and to everyone’s benefit, he’s had an ability to focus on the long game. And that is a talent that he actually shares with one of the founding fathers of this institution, a former colleague, beloved to all of you, who became a great friend to me, and that’s Senator Dan Inouye. During my sort of latter years, I actually moved up to about seventh in seniority or something in the United States Senate, and had I not been appointed to this job, with all of the retirements that are taking place, I don’t know, I might have been third or fourth or something, which is kind of intimidating. But as a result of that, I got to sit beside the great Dan Inouye for four or five years in the Senate. Our desks were beside each other, and we became very good friends. He was one of the early supporters of mine when I decided to run for President in ’04, ’03. But most importantly, Dan Inouye, as all of you know, was a patriot above all who commanded remarkable respect and affection of all of his colleagues. And Hawaii was so wise to keep him in office for so many years.

Having just visited yesterday Guadalcanal, having stood up on what was called Bloody Ridge, Edson’s Ridge, and walked into one of the still remaining bunkers that Marines were dug in on against 3,000-plus Japanese who kept coming at them wave after wave in the evening, it’s – it was a remarkable sense of the battle that turned the war. And no place knows the meaning of all of that better than here in Hawaii.

Yesterday commemorated really one of the great battles of the Second World War, and so it gave me a chance to reflect with special pride and with humility about Dan’s service to our country. He was a hero in the war, against difficult circumstances which we all understand too well. But he became the first Japanese American to serve in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate, against all the odds of what was still a prevailing sense in our country of misunderstanding between people. And he just never let that get in the way. He shared a very personal commitment to strengthening ties between the United States and the Asia Pacific. And that’s why he championed the East-West Center for decades, and I want you to know that President Obama and I strongly support your mission of bringing people together to think creatively about the future of our role in the region and how we overcome the kinds of inherent, visceral differences that sometimes are allowed to get in the way of relationships, and frankly, in the way of common sense.

We remember too well in America that slavery was written into our Constitution long before it was written out of it. And we all know the struggle that it took – excuse me – to write it out. So as we look at the world today – complicated, difficult, tumultuous, volatile – for so many of us who have spent decades working on issues central to the Asia Pacific, there’s actually something particularly exciting about this moment. It’s almost exhilarating when you look at Asia’s transformation. And like Dan Inouye, I have had the privilege, as many of you have here I can see, you’ve lived a lot of that transformation firsthand.

A number of my – (coughing) – excuse me, it’s the virtue of many hours in an airplane. A number of my ancestors from Boston and from Massachusetts were merchants whose ships dropped anchor in Hong Kong as they plied the lonely trade routes to China. My grandfather, actually, was born in Shanghai and was a businessman who had a partnership with a Chinese businessman. So in our family and in Massachusetts, we’ve had a long sense of the possibilities and of this relationship. Today, East Asia is one of the largest, fastest growing, most dynamic regions in the entire world. And when the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations are complete, about 40 percent of global GDP will be linked by a high-standard trade agreement, a trade agreement that creates a race to the top, not a race to the bottom, where people understand the rules of engagement and there’s accountability and transparency, and business and capital know exactly what the rules of the road will be so they’re attracted to invest each in each other’s countries.

After college, I had the privilege of serving in the United States Navy. And I went through Pearl Harbor. I had a remarkable several days here as a young officer on a frigate before we set sail to cross the Pacific. And I drove all over the island everywhere, in places I probably wasn’t supposed to. But I loved it and then spent a second tour in the rivers of Vietnam. And back then, the word Vietnam – just saying Vietnam – carried with it an ominous meaning. It meant war. It meant huge dissent in America, families torn apart. But today, Vietnam, when you say it, has a whole different meaning to most people. It’s now a dynamic country filled with economic opportunity. It’s a market for our businesses and our investors. It’s a classroom for our children. It has one of the largest Fulbright programs in the world. And it’s a partner in tackling regional economic and security challenges.

Such extraordinary transformations have actually become almost the norm in this region. I’ll never forget, 15 years ago, I visited in then Burma – no confusion with Myanmar but now people choose what they want to call it. But I visited with Daw Aung Sung Sui Kyi in the very home in which she was imprisoned for nearly two decades. And this week, I had the privilege of again going back to the very same house – it hadn’t changed, looked the same. She, by the way, 20 years later looks the same. And she is now free to speak her mind as a member of parliament.

It’s remarkable. It doesn’t mean all the president are solved. But these transformations are just some of what makes Asia the most exciting and promising places on the planet.

I am returning, as President Morrison has said, from actually my sixth trip to the Asia Pacific in 18 months as Secretary of State. And later today, I’ll be meeting with our outstanding Commander of United States Forces in the Pacific to review a range of America’s formidable military presence issues. I have returned again and again to this region – I can’t tell you how many times I went, Mazie, as a senator to the region. And we are now – we take our enduring interests there, obviously, very, very seriously.

We know that America’s security and prosperity are closely and increasingly linked to the Asia Pacific. And that’s why President Obama began what is known as the rebalance to Asia in 2009. That’s why he’s asked me to redouble my own efforts in the region over the next two and half years. And that’s why I want to talk to you today about four specific opportunities: creating sustainable economic growth, powering a clean energy revolution, promoting regional cooperation, and empowering people.

Now, these important opportunities can and should be realized through a rules-based regional order, a stable regional order on common rules and norms of behavior that are reinforced by institutions. And that’s what holds the greatest potential for all of us for making progress. We support this approach, frankly, because it encourages cooperative behavior. It fosters regional integration. It ensures that all countries, big and small – and the small part is really important – that they have a say in how we work together on shared challenges. I want you to know that the United States is deeply committed to realizing this vision. President Obama is excited about it. He wants us all to be committed to fostering it and also to understanding why we’re doing it. And frankly, it is this vision that is the underlying reason that so many countries in Asia choose to work with the United States.

You hear some people today talking about the United States retrenching or disengaging. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think we’re more engaged and more active in more countries and more parts of the world than any time in American history. And I can tell you that because just driving over here I was on the phone to people in the Middle East, talking about a ceasefire which is now going to be in place in the next days; talking about the road ahead. Just came back from Afghanistan, where we’re working on the transition to the people of Afghanistan, to their future. We’re engaged with Iran, working on the nuclear program; with the DPRK, with China, and Sudan, and Central Africa. We just had 50-plus African leaders to Washington to talk about the future of American engagement there. We are deeply engaged in a very, very complex world.

But this speech and this moment here at the university and at the center, and the trip that I just made to Asia, are meant to underscore that even as we focus on those crises that I’ve just listed and on conflicts that dominate the headlines on a daily basis and demand our leadership – even as we do that, we will never forget the long-term strategic imperatives for American interests. As Secretary of State, my job isn’t just to respond to crises. It’s also about defining and seizing the long-term opportunities for the United States. And having just traveled to Burma, Australia, and the Solomon Islands, I can tell you that nowhere are those strategic opportunities clearer or more compelling than in the Asia Pacific.

That’s why we are currently negotiating a comprehensive and ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement that will create thousands of new jobs here in America as well as in other countries, and it will spur this race to the top, not to the bottom. It raises the standards by which we do business. That’s why we’re elevating our engagement in multilateral institutions, from the ASEAN Regional Forum to the East Asia Summit. And that’s why we are revitalizing our security partnerships with our treaty allies: Japan, Australia, South Korea, and the Philippines. And that’s why we are standing up for the human rights and the fundamental freedoms that people in Asia cherish as much as any people in the world.

I have no illusions about the challenges, and nor does President Obama. They are complex in this 21st century, in many ways far more complex than the bipolar, East-West, Soviet Union-versus-West world – the Cold War that many of us grew up in. This is far more complicated. It’s far more, in many ways, like 19th century and 18th century diplomacy, with states asserting their interests in different ways and with more economic players in the planet than we had in the 20th century with power and with a sense of independence. But what I want to emphasize to you all today is there is a way forward. This is not so daunting that it’s indescribable as to what we can do.

So how do we make our shared vision a reality for the region and ensure that Asia contributes to global peace and prosperity? First, we need to turn today’s economic nationalism and fragmentation into tomorrow’s sustainable growth. I say it all the time: Foreign Policy is economic policy, and economic policy is foreign policy. They are one and the same. There’s no denying that particularly in Asia Pacific. Asia Pacific is an engine of global economic growth, but we can’t take that growth for granted.

Because what we face something that is really a common challenge. Across the world, we have seen a staggering growth in youth populations. At the Africa summit it was just underscored to us there are 700 million people under the age of 30. We’ve seen staggering growth in these youth populations. And guess what. In the 21st century, in 2014 when everybody’s running around with a mobile device and everybody’s in touch with everybody every day all the time, all of these people are demanding an opportunity. They’re demanding dignity. And juxtaposed to their hopes, a cadre of extremists, of resisters, of naysayers are waiting to seduce many of those young people into accepting a dead end. And let me tell you, when people don’t have a job, when they can’t get an education, when they can’t aspire to a better future for themselves and for their families, when their voices are silenced by draconian laws or violence and oppression, we have all witnessed the instability that follows.

Now happily, many, if not most governments, in Asia are working to present booming youth populations with an alternative, with a quality education, with skills for the modern world, with jobs that allow them to build a life and a confidence in their countries. That is part of the reason why the young people in Asia are joining the ranks of the middle class, not the ranks of violent extremists. And the fact is that too many countries around the world are struggling to provide those opportunities. There’s a lack of governance, and we ignore the importance of this collective challenge to address the question of failed and failing states in other parts of the world.

In the 21st century, a nation’s interests and the well-being of its people are advanced not just by troops or diplomats, but they’re advanced by entrepreneurs, by chief executives of companies, by the businesses that are good corporate citizens, by the workers that they employ, by the students that they train, and the shared prosperity that they create. That is why we are working with partners across the Asia Pacific to maintain and raise standards as we expand trade and investment by pursuing a comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

Now, the TPP represents really an exciting new chapter in the long history of America’s mutually beneficial trade partnerships with the countries of the Asia Pacific. It is a state-of-the-art, 21st century trade agreement, and it is consistent not just with our shared economic interests, but also with our shared values. It’s about generating growth for our economies and jobs for our people by unleashing a wave of trade, investment, and entrepreneurship. It’s about standing up for our workers, or protecting the environment, and promoting innovation. And it’s about reaching for high standards to guide the growth of this dynamic regional economy. And all of that is just plain good for businesses, it’s good for workers, it’s good for our economies. And that’s why we must get this done.

Now, every time I travel to Asia, I have the privilege of meeting with young entrepreneurs and business leaders. In fact, at the Africa summit the other day we had this wonderful group of young African leaders – all entrepreneurs, all these young kids in their 20s doing extraordinary things. It’s call the Young African Leaders Initiative, which President Obama started.

In Hanoi last December, I launched the Governance for Inclusive Growth Program to support Vietnam’s transition to a market-based economy. I’ve met with entrepreneurs in Seoul and Manila to talk about how we can drive innovation. On Saturday, I discussed with my ASEAN counterparts the framework for creating business opportunities and jobs that we call Expanded Economic Engagement, or E3. And just yesterday, I met with business leaders in Sydney, Australia to explore ways to reduce the barriers to trade and investment.

To broaden the base of support for this strategy, we need to focus not only on rapid growth, but we also need to focus on sustainability. And that means making the best use of regional institutions. President Obama will join APEC economic leaders in Beijing this fall to focus on promoting clean and renewable fuels and supporting small businesses and women’s participation in the economy and expanding educational exchanges. And just a few days ago, I met with ministers from the Lower Mekong Initiative countries to deepen our partnership and help them wrestle with the challenges of food and water and energy security on the Mekong River.

Ultimately, the true measure of our success will not be just whether our economies continue to grow, but how they continue to grow. And that brings me to our second challenge: We need to turn today’s climate crisis into tomorrow’s clean energy revolution. Now, all of this – all of us in this room understand climate change is not a crisis of the future. Climate change is here now. It’s happening, happening all over the world. It’s not a challenge that’s somehow remote and that people can’t grab onto.

But here’s the key: It’s happening at a rate that should be alarming to all of us because everything the scientists predicted – and I’ll tell you a little addendum. Al Gore – I had the privilege of working with Al Gore and Tim Worth and a group of senators – Jack Heinz – back in the 1980s when we held the first hearing on climate change in 1988. That’s when Jim Hansen from NASA came forward and said it’s happening. It’s happening now in 1988. In 1992 we had a forum down in Brazil, Rio, the Earth Summit. George Herbert Walker Bush participated. We came up with a voluntary framework to deal with climate change, but voluntary didn’t work. And for 20 years nothing much happened. Then we went to Kyoto. We went to all these places to try to do something, and here we are in 2014 with a chance next year in 2015 to do it.

And what’s happening is the science is screaming at us. Ask any kid in school. They understand what a greenhouse is, how it works, why we call it the greenhouse effect. They get it. And here’s what – if you accept the science, if you accept that the science is causing climate to change, you have to heed what those same scientists are telling us about how you prevent the inevitable consequences and impacts. You can’t – that’s why President Obama has made climate change a top priority. He’s doing by executive authority what we’re not able to get the Congress to do. And we’re working very hard to implement the Climate Action Plan and lead by example. We’re doubling the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks on America’s roads. We’ve developed new standards that ensure that existing power plants are as clean as possible and as efficient as possible. And we’re committed to reducing greenhouse gases and emissions in the range of about 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

So we’re heading in the right direction. But make no mistake about it: Our response has to be all hands on deck. By definition, rescuing the planet’s climate is a global challenge that requires a global solution. And nowhere is all of this more evident than in the Asia Pacific. And no two nations can have a greater impact or influence on this debate or this challenge than China and the United States.

During the Strategic and Economic Dialogue last month, Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew and I were in Beijing for two days. And we and China together sent a clear message: The world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters, the United States and China, are committed to advancing a low-carbon economic growth pattern and significantly reduce our countries’ greenhouse gases. And we’re working together to launch demonstration projects on carbon capture, utilization, and storage. We’re adopting stronger fuel efficiency standards for heavy- and light-duty vehicles. We’re advancing a new initiative on climate change and forests, because we know that the threat of deforestation and its implications of a changing climate are real and they’re grave and they’re growing. And I’ll just say to you this is not an issue on which you can be half pregnant. No such issue. If you accept the science, you have to accept that you have to do these things about it.

Now, the United States and China have a special role to play in reducing emissions and developing a clean energy future. But everybody – every nation – has a stake in getting it right. I just came from the Solomon Islands yesterday, a thousand islands, some of which could be wiped out if we don’t make the right choices. The Pacific Islands across the entire Pacific are vulnerable to climate change. And just yesterday, I saw with my own eyes what sea level rise would do to parts of it: It would be devastating – entire habitats destroyed, entire populations displaced from their homes, in some cases entire cultures wiped out. They just had flash flooding in Guadalcanal – unprecedented amounts of rainfall. And that’s what’s happened with climate change – unprecedented storms, unprecedented typhoons, unprecedented hurricanes, unprecedented droughts, unprecedented fires, major damage, billions and billions of dollars of damage being done that we’re paying for instead of investing those billions of dollars in avoiding this in the first place.

That’s why we are deepening our partnerships with the Pacific Island nations and others to meet immediate threats and long-term development challenges. And we’re working through USAID and other multilateral institutions to increase the resilience of communities. And we’re elevating our engagement through the Pacific Islands Forum. And we’ve signed maritime boundaries, new maritime boundaries with Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia in order to promote good governance of the Pacific Ocean and peaceful relations among island nations. And we’re also working on a Pacific Pathway of marine protected areas that includes President Obama’s commitment to explore a protected area of more than a million square miles in size in the U.S. remote Pacific.

We just held a conference on the oceans in Washington the other day with nations all over the world came to it – unbelievably productive. We produced $1.8 billion of commitments to help with fisheries enforcement, anti-pollution, dealing with acidification, and to protect these areas as marine sanctuaries.

The good news is in the end – and this really – it really is good news. Sometimes you have an issue – Mr. Mayor, I know you know this. Governors, you know this. You’re looking at an issue and, man, you scratch your head and you’re not quite sure what the solution is, right? And you work through it. Well, the good news is the biggest challenge of all that we face right now, which is climate change in terms of international global effect, is an opportunity. It’s actually an extraordinary opportunity because it’s not a problem without a solution. The solution to climate change is simple. It’s called energy policy. Energy policy. Make the right choices about how you produce your energy – without emissions, without coal-fired power plants that don’t have carbon capture and storage or aren’t burning clean – then you can begin to produce clean energy.

And the new energy market that we’re looking at is the biggest market the world has ever seen. Think about that for a moment. The wealth that was generated in the 1990s – I don’t know if you know this, but most people think that America got the richest during the 1920s when you had the so-called, even in the late 1800s, robber baron years, and then you had the great names of wealth – Carnegie, Mellon, Frick, Rockefeller, and so forth. And no income tax – wow, gonna make a lot of money.

Guess what. America made more wealth and more money for more people in the 1990s than at any other time in our history. And what it came from, the wealth that was generated then, was the high-tech computer revolution of the 1990s, and guess what. It came from a $1 trillion market with 1 billion users, 1 for 1. The energy market that we’re looking at in the world today is six times bigger, by far more important. It’s a $6 trillion market today with 4 to 5 billion users today, and it will go up to 7 to 9 billion users in the next 30 years. The fastest segment by far of growth in that market is clean energy.

We need to build a grid in America. We need to – we could use solar thermal to produce heat in Massachusetts, in Minnesota, take wind power from our states, sell it somewhere else. We can’t even do that because we don’t have that grid in place.

So I want to emphasize to all of you: We’re not going to find a sustainable energy mix in the 19th century or 20th century solutions. Those are the problems. We need a formula for 21st century that will sustainably power us into the 22nd century. And I believe that, working together, the United States and countries across the Asia Pacific can make this leap. That’s an exciting opportunity and that’s what we’re working on with China today.

The bottom line is we don’t have time to waste. If we’re going to power a clean energy revolution, we have to work together to dampen security competition and rivalry in the Asia Pacific and focus on these other constructive efforts. And so our third challenge is clear: We need to turn maritime conflicts into regional cooperation.

All of us in this room understand that these disputes in the South China Sea and elsewhere, they’re really about more than claims to islands and reefs and rocks and the economic interests that flow from them. They’re about whether might makes right or whether global rules and norms and rule of law and international law will prevail. I want to be absolutely clear: The United States of America takes no position on questions of sovereignty in the South and East China Sea, but we do care about how those questions are resolved. We care about behavior. We firmly oppose the use of intimidation and coercion or force to assert a territorial claim by anyone in the region. And we firmly oppose any suggestion that freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea and airspace are privileges granted by a big state to a small one. All claimants must work together to solve the claims through peaceful means, big or small. And these principles bind all nations equally, and all nations have a responsibility to uphold them.

Now, I just participated in the ASEAN Regional Forum, and we were encouraged there to – we encouraged the claimants there to defuse these tensions and to create the political space for resolution. We urged the claimants to voluntarily freeze steps that threatened to escalate the disputes and to cause instability. And frankly, I think that’s common sense and I suspect you share that. I’m pleased to say that ASEAN agreed that the time has come to seek consensus on what some of those actions to be avoided might be, based on the commitments that they’ve already made in the 2002 Declaration on Conduct.

Now, we cannot impose solutions on the claimants in the region, and we’re not seeking to do that. But the recent settlement between Indonesia and the Philippines is an example of how these disputes could be resolved through good-faith negotiations. Japan and Taiwan, likewise, showed last year that it’s possible to promote regional stability despite conflicting claims. And we support the Philippines’ taking steps to resolve its maritime dispute with China peacefully, including through the right to pursue arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. And while we already live by its principles, the United States needs to finish the job and pass that Treaty once and for all.

Now, one thing that I know will contribute to maintaining regional peace and stability is a constructive relationship between the United States and China. President Obama has made it clear that the United States welcomes the rise of a peaceful, prosperous, and stable China – one that plays a responsible role in Asia and the world and supports rules and norms on economic and security issues. The President has been clear, as have I, that we are committed to avoiding the trap of strategic rivalry and intent on forging a relationship in which we can broaden our cooperation on common interests and constructively manage our differences and disagreements.

But make no mistake: This constructive relationship, this “new model” relationship of great powers, is not going to happen simply by talking about it. It’s not going to happen by engaging in a slogan or pursuing a sphere of influence. It will be defined by more and better cooperation on shared challenges. And it will be defined by a mutual embrace of the rules, the norms, and institutions that have served both of our nations and the region so well. I am very pleased that China and the United States are cooperating effectively on the Iran nuclear talks and we’ve increased our dialogue on the DPRK. We’re also cooperating significantly on climate change possibilities, counter-piracy operations, and South Sudan.

So we are busy trying to define a great power relationship by the places where we can find mutual agreement and cooperation. We’ve seen the benefits of partnerships based on common values and common approaches to regional and global security. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and I met with our Australian counterparts in Sydney earlier this week and we reviewed the U.S.-Australian alliance from all sides. And though we live in very different hemispheres, obviously, and at opposite ends of the globe, the United States and Australia are today as close as nations can get. Our time-honored alliance has helped both of our countries to achieve important goals: standing with the people of Ukraine, supporting long-term progress in Afghanistan, promoting shared prosperity in the Asia Pacific, and collaborating on the United Nations Security Council. And we also agreed to expand our trilateral cooperation with Japan, and that will allow us to further modernize the U.S.-Japan alliance as we address a broader array of security challenges. Similarly, with our ally South Korea, our partnership on a growing range of regional and global challenges has brought much greater security to Asia and beyond.

History shows us that countries whose policies respect and reflect universal human rights and fundamental freedoms are likely to be peaceful and prosperous, far more effective at tapping the talents of their people, and far better partners in the long term.

That is why our fourth and final challenge is so important: We need to turn human rights problems into opportunities for human empowerment. Across the region, there are bright spots. But we also see backsliding, such as the setback to democracy in Thailand.

We all know that some countries in the region hold different views on democratic governance and the protection of human rights. But though we may sometimes disagree on these issues with the governments, I don’t think we have any fundamental disagreement with their people.

Given a choice, I don’t think too many young people in China would choose to have less access to uncensored information, rather than more. I don’t think too many people in Vietnam would say: “I’d rather not be allowed to organize and speak out for better working conditions or a healthy environment.” And I can’t imagine that anyone in Asia would watch more than a 130 million people go to the polls in Indonesia to choose a president after a healthy, vigorous, and peaceful debate and then say: “I don’t want that right for myself.” I also think most people would agree that freedom of speech and the press is essential to checking corruption, and it is essential that rule of law is needed to protect innovation and to enable businesses to thrive. That’s why support for these values is both universal and pragmatic.

I visited Indonesia in February, and I saw the promise of a democratic future. The world’s third largest democracy sets a terrific example for the world. And the United States is deeply committed to our comprehensive partnership. Indonesia is not just an expression of different cultures and languages and faiths. By deepening its democracy, and preserving its traditions of tolerance, it can be a model for how Asian values and democratic principles inform and strengthen one another.

In Thailand, a close friend and ally, we’re very disturbed by the setback to democracy and we hope it is a temporary bump in the road. We call on the Thai authorities to lift restrictions on political activity and speech, to return – to restore civilian rule, and return quickly to democracy through free and fair elections.

In Burma last week, I saw firsthand the initial progress the people and the government have made. And I’m proud of the role – and you should be too – that the United States has played for a quarter of a century in encouraging that progress.

But Burma still has a long way to go, and those leading its democratic transformation are only now addressing the deepest challenges: Defining a new role for the military; reforming the constitution and supporting free and fair elections; ending a decades-long civil war; and guaranteeing in law the human rights that Burma’s people have been promised in name. All of this while trying to attract more investment, combating corruption, protecting the country’s forests and other resources. These are the great tests of Burma’s transition. And we intend to try to help, but in the end the leadership will have to make the critical choices.

The United States is going to do everything we can to help the reformers in Burma, especially by supporting nationwide elections next year. And we will keep urging the government – as I did last week – to take steps to ease the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine state, and push back against hate speech and religious violence, implement constitutional reform, and protect freedom of assembly and expression. The government owes it to the people of those – of that movement to do those things.

And so, my friends, in the great tradition of our country, we will continue to promote human rights and democracy in Asia, without arrogance but also without apology.

Elsewhere in Asia, North Korea’s proliferation activities pose a very serious threat to the United States, the region, and the world. And we are taking steps to deter and defend against North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear-armed ballistic missile capability. But make no mistake: We are also speaking out about the horrific human rights situation. We strongly supported the extraordinary United Nations investigation this year that revealed the utter, grotesque cruelty of North Korea’s system of labor camps and executions. Such deprivation of human dignity just has no place in the 21st century. North Korea’s gulags should be shut down – not tomorrow, not next week, but now. And we will continue to speak out on this topic.

So you’ve heard me for longer than you might have wanted to – (laughter) – describing a pretty ambitious agenda. And you’re right; it’s a big deal. We are super engaged. We are ambitious for this process: completing the TPP negotiations, creating sustainable growth, powering a clean energy revolution, managing regional rivalries by promoting cooperation, and empowering people from all walks of life – that’s how we’re going to realize the promise of the Asia Pacific. And this is a region whose countries can and should come together, because there is much more that unites us than divides us. This is a region that can and should meet danger and difficulty with courage and collaboration. And we are determined to deliver on the strategic and historic opportunities that we can create together.

That’s why, together with our Asian partners, we’re developing modern rules for a changing world – rules that help economies grow strong and fair and just, with protections for the environment, safeguards for the people who have both too often been left behind.

That’s why we’re building a region where Asia’s major cities are no longer clouded with smog and smoke, and where people can depend on safe food and water, and clean oceans, clean air, and shared resources from its rivers and its oceans, and with a sense of responsibility one generation passes on to the next to preserve all of that for the future.

That’s why we’re building a region where countries peacefully resolve their differences over islands, reefs, rocks by finding the common ground on the basis of international law.

And that’s why we’re building a region that protects the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms that make all nations stronger.

There is still a long road ahead. But nothing gives me more hope in the next miles of the journey than the courage of those who have reached a different and more hopeful kind of future. And that is the story that I want to leave you with today.

When I became a senator, getting increasingly more and more involved in the region as a young member of the committee and then later as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, the first trip I took in 1986 was to the Philippines. Strongman Ferdinand Marcos had called a sham “snap” election to fake everybody to prove how in charge he was, to preserve his grasp on power. President Reagan asked Senator Richard Lugar and me to be part of a delegation to observe those elections.

And I will never forget arriving in Manila and seeing this unbelievable flood of people in the streets all decked out in their canary yellow shirts and banners of pro-democracy protest. Some of us knew at that time there were allegations of fraud. I was sent down initially to Mindanao to observe the morning votes and then came back to Manila, and was sitting in the hotel there when a woman came up to me crying and said, “Senator, you must come with me to the cathedral. There are women there who fear for their lives.”

And I left my dinner and I ran down to the cathedral. I came in to the Sacristi of the cathedral and talked with these 13 women who were crying and huddled together, intimidated for their lives. And I listened to their story about how they were counting the raw tally of the votes that was coming in from all across the nation, but the raw tally of votes they were counting was not showing up on the computer tote board recording the votes. They blew the whistle on a dictator. We held an international press conference right there in the cathedral right in front of the alter, and they spoke out, and that was the signal to Marcos it was over. Their courage and the courage of the Filipino people lit a spark that traveled throughout the world, inspiring not just a freshman senator from Massachusetts, but popular movements from Eastern Europe to Burma.

Now, I think about that moment even today, about the power of people to make their voices felt. I think about how Cory Aquino rose to the presidency atop a wave of people power when few believed that she could. I think about how her husband fought for democracy, even at the cost of his own life. And I think about how, decades later, their son would rise to the presidency in democratic elections. In his inaugural address, President Benigno Aquino said: “My parents sought nothing less, died for nothing less, than democracy and peace. I am blessed by this legacy. I shall carry the torch forward.”

My friends, today we must all summon up some of that courage, we must all carry that torch forward. The cause of democracy and peace, and the prosperity that they bring, can bring our legacy in the Asian Pacific, it can define it. Our commitment to that future, believe me it is strong. Our principles are just. And we are in this for the long haul – clear-eyed about the challenges ahead.

Thank you. (Applause.)

Daily News of 2014-07-31

MEX 14 / 31.07

DAILY NEWS

31 / 07 / 14

G-7 Leaders Statement on Ukraine

G-7 leaders joined yesterday in expressing their grave concern about Russia’s continued actions to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. “This week, we have all announced additional coordinated sanctions on Russia, including sanctions on specific companies operating in key sectors of the Russian economy. We believe it is essential to demonstrate to the Russian leadership that it must stop its support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine and tangibly participate in creating the necessary conditions for the political process.”, said G-7 leaders in a joint statement. “We remain convinced that there must be a political solution to the current conflict, which is causing rising numbers of civilian casualties. We call for a peaceful settlement of the crisis in Ukraine, and underline the need to implement President Poroshenko’s peace plan without any further delay.”

Read the full statement online .

June 2014: Euro area unemployment rate at 11.5%; EU28 at 10.2%

The euro area (EA18) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 11.5% in June 2014, down from 11.6% in May 2014, and from 12.0% in June 2013. This is the lowest rate recorded since September 2012. The EU28 unemployment rate was 10.2% in June 2014, down from 10.3% in May 2014, and from 10.9% in June 2013. This is the lowest rate recorded since March 2012. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.
Eurostat estimates that 25.005 million men and women in the EU28, of whom 18.412 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in June 2014. Compared with May 2014, the number of persons unemployed decreased by 198 000 in the EU28 and by 152 000 in the euro area. Compared with June 2013, unemployment fell by 1.537 million in the EU28 and by 783 000 in the euro area. European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor commented: “The unemployment figures for June 2014 confirm the first signs of economic recovery we have been seen in Europe over the past year. But while job destruction seems to have come to a halt, the reduction of unemployment has only been very modest so far. Our objective must be to create the right macroeconomic conditions for sustainable recovery and for Member States to implement structural reforms such as the Youth Guarantee to ensure that the recovery is job-rich. Only then will we see the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs every month, and an end to these excessively high and unacceptable levels of unemployment.”

Other news

Bank transfers: Single Euro Payments Area to bring easier payments and transfers in euro area from 1 August

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) creates a true European Single Market for retail payments in euro where and transfers, direct debits and payments between Member States are as easy and fast as the equivalent domestic transactions. It will become operational in all eurozone countries on 1st August 2014. It will also apply to euro-denominated transactions in non-eurozone countries from 30th October 2016. SEPA will greatly facilitate euro payments for citizens and businesses and increase competition between banks.

Commission adopts French programme to use €499 million from Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived

The European Commission has approved today the French Operational Programme to use the new Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD). France, the first Member State to have its FEAD programme adopted, will receive 499 million euros in current prices in the period 2014-2020 to support the provision of food aid to those most in need in the country (complemented with €88 million from national resources). Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, commented: “I welcome the swift adoption of the French operational programme. The Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived will play a key role to help Europe’s most vulnerable citizens with food or other basic goods. In many Member States severe material deprivation is on the rise and many households cannot afford a meal. I am looking forward to approving the programmes of all the other Member States, so that the rest of the 3.8 billion euros available can be put to the best use in our fight against poverty”.

Protecting Intellectual Property Rights: Customs authorities detain nearly 36 million fake goods at EU borders in 2013

Customs authorities in the EU detained almost 36 million items suspected of violating intellectual property rights (IPR) in 2013, according to the Commission’s annual report on customs actions to enforce IPR. Although this is less than previous years, the value of the intercepted goods still represents more than € 760 million. Today’s report also gives statistics on the type, provenance and transport method of counterfeit products detained at the EU’s external borders. See also the Q&A: MEMO/14/501 .

EU develops new driverless car parking system – so you never waste another minute looking for a space

There are only a few minutes before your flight check-in closes, or before your train departs, but you now have to spend precious time hunting for a free space at the airport or station car park. Imagine leaving your vehicle at the main entrance and letting the car do the rest on its own. Researchers from Germany, Italy, the UK and Switzerland are working on this, and successful tests took place at Stuttgart airport earlier this year. €5.6 million of EU funding is invested in the system which will be available in the coming years. Vice President Neelie Kroes said:We need to think ahead and find smarter ways to move, to save time, money and our environment. Who wouldn’t want to save time parking their car?

Compromise found: Part of EU fleet can continue fishing in Mauritanian waters until end of 2014

EU vessels fishing shrimps and small pelagics in Mauritanian waters in the framework of the EU-Mauritania Fisheries Protocol will be able to continue to do so until 15 December 2014. This is part of the compromise which EU negotiators found last night in Nouakchott after the Mauritanian authorities had upheld the position that all EU vessels would have to leave Mauritanian waters as of 1 August 2014. According to the agreement found, Mauritania accepted EU fishing activities for a period of 24 months as part of the bilateral Fisheries Protocol, hence the shrimps and small pelagics fisheries which started in January 2013 can continue, whereas those EU vessels which had been fishing tuna and demersals since August 2012 during a transitional period will need to leave Mauritanian waters today. Furthermore, the EU and Mauritania agreed to continue the discussions for a renewed Fisheries Protocol so to allow the full EU fleet to resume their activities soon. More information

Flash estimate – July 2014: Euro area annual inflation down to 0.4%

Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 0.4% in July 2014, down from 0.5% in June, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Looking at the main components of euro area inflation, services is expected to have the highest annual rate in July (1.3%, stable compared with June), followed by non-energy industrial goods (0.0%, compared with -0.1% in June), food, alcohol & tobacco (-0.3%, compared with -0.2% in June) and energy (-1.0%, compared with 0.1% in June).

Aides d’État: la Commission conclut que la cristallerie belge Val Saint-Lambert a reçu des aides d’État incompatibles; autorise la vente de certains de ses actifs

La Commission européenne a conclu que certaines des mesures d’aide octroyées par la région wallonne à Val Saint-Lambert SA (VSL) ont conféré à l’entreprise un avantage indu sur ses concurrents, en violation des règles de l’UE en matière d’aides d’État. VSL doit à présent rembourser ce montant, majoré des intérêts, pour atténuer les distorsions de concurrence engendrées par l’octroi de ces aides incompatibles avec le marché intérieur européen.

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Pirelli’s steel tyre cord business by Bekaert

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the steel tyre cord business of the Italian company Pirelli by its Belgian-based rival NV Bekaert SA. Steel tyre cord is used to reinforce radial tyres and has a major impact on their safety and performance. The Commission concluded that the acquisition would not raise competition concerns as the merged entity’s customers, which are large, multinational tyre companies, have countervailing buyer power which is further strengthened by over-capacity in the steel tyre cord market. In addition the Commission found that Bekaert will continue to face effective competition from a number of other strong competitors located outside the European Economic Area (EEA), in particular in Belarus, Korea and China. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7230 .

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Uniqa Life by Uniqa Insurance Group.

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Uniqa Life of Italy by the Uniqa Insurance Group (Uniqa) of Austria. Uniqa Life is a life insurance company active only in Italy, while Uniqa is an Austrian-based insurance group offering products and services in all insurance sectors (life, non-life, re-insurance) in a number of European Economic Area (EEA) countries. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the very low combined market shares resulting from the transaction. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7298 .

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of GEA’s heat exchanger business by private equity company Triton

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of sole control over the German heat exchanger business of GEA by the private equity company Triton of Jersey. Triton invests in medium-sized businesses in Northern Europe, in particular in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and the five Nordic countries. GEA’s heat exchanger business manufactures a broad portfolio of heat exchangers serving different applications such as power, climate and environment or oil and gas. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns, because the overlaps between the activities of Triton’s portfolio companies and GEA’s heat exchanger business are limited. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7306 .

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Doeflex by INEOS in plastic compounding sector

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Doeflex Compounding Limited (Doeflex) of the UK by INEOS AG (INEOS) of Switzerland. Doeflex is a PVC compounder with a single manufacturing facility located in Swindon, UK, controlled by two individuals. INEOS is a global manufacturer of petrochemicals, speciality chemicals and oil products. Among other activities, INEOS produces commodity S-PVC E-PVC, plasticizers and S-PVC compounds in the European Economic Area (EEA). The Commission examined the effects of the merger on competition in the area of S-PVC compounding and more specifically for the manufacture and sale of dry blended and gelled compounds in North Western Europe, Western Europe and the EEA. S-PVC compounds are intermediate products between S-PVC and end-products. They are obtained by blending additives such as plasticisers, heat stabilisers and pigments with S-PVC. S-PVC compounds are then further processed to produce end-products such as pipes, window and door frames, cables, etc. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns because the merged entity would continue to face strong competition after the merger and customers would still have sufficient alternative suppliers in the market for S-PVC compounds and its sub-segments. The Commission found, in particular, that other strong players, such as Kem One, which recently acquired Solvay’s compounding business, and Begra will continue to compete with the merged entity in these markets. The Commission also found that in spite of the vertical links between INEOS’s upstream activities in S-PVC, E-PVC and plasticizers and its compounding business, the proposed transaction does not affect INEOS’s ability and incentives to shut out competitors from the S-PVC compounds market or customers from access to supplies because INEOS was already vertically integrated pre-transaction and the addition of Doeflex’s business has limited impact on the pre-existing situation because of its limited size. More information will be available on the competition website, in the Commission’s public case register under the case number M.7132 .

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Bull by Atos

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Bull S.A. by Atos S.E., both of France. Atos delivers IT services, including managed services, business process outsourcing, consulting & systems integration and cloud & enterprise software. Bull is active in the development of High Performance Computing (HPC) supercomputers and uprange servers, in the design, building and managing of data centres, HPC infrastructure and cloud computing solutions, in the consulting as well as integration and maintenance of critical business applications and in the design, consulting and integration of end-to-end security solutions. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not give rise to competition concerns, given the parties’ moderate combined market positions resulting from the proposed transaction and the presence of a number of strong players that are active on the respective markets. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7308 .  

First general discussion on EU trade policy with the new Committee on International Trade (INTA)

European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

Karel De Gucht

European Commissioner for Trade

First general discussion on EU trade policy with the new Committee on International Trade (INTA)

European Parliament

Brussels, 22 July 2014

Mr Chairman, Honourable Members,

Thank you for inviting me to the first full meeting of this Committee.

I am happy to see that the Committee has grown larger – which I think is a fair reflection of the importance, and even the respect, it has gained over the last few years. I am also happy to see quite a few familiar faces, but also many new faces – offering us an excellent mix of experience and new insights.

I sincerely hope that I will continue to work together with you in the same spirit of intense and constructive cooperation as with your predecessors in this Committee. You can count on me to remain as committed and transparent to this Committee as I was in previous years. My successor will need to have a very large shoe size if you consider what we have achieved during the last legislature. Indeed, our joint work with the Parliament and this very active Committee has in recent years contributed greatly to the conduct, legitimacy and accountability of the EU’s trade policy.

This Committee has been very active on the legislative front, adopting legislation that adapted our trade policy instruments to the Lisbon Agreement, as well as to the new global trade environment. This includes two important regulations related to investment policy, the review of the Generalised System of Preferences and the Enforcement regulation. I note with satisfaction that the compromises found between the Parliament and the Council fully respected the spirit of our initial proposals. This being said, there are still a few legislative procedures pending, and I will come to that in a minute.

We also managed to ratify and provisionally apply free-trade Agreements, such as with Korea, Colombia, Peru and Central America, offering EU business new opportunities in growing markets. All in all, more than 20 trade agreements, large and small, were submitted to Parliament’s consent during this term. Practically all passed with very comfortable majorities. This shows that there is a broad agreement on the key principles of European trade policy enshrined in our Treaties: open markets – both at home and abroad, a broad concept of the trade barriers we need to address, and a need to ensure we can compete on fair terms.

This is why the agreements that I just mentioned are new generation agreements, covering areas that bring additional value to the European economy – for example, services, public procurement, geographical indications, and a greater promotion of the recognition of EU standards.

These agreements are now being implemented, and are starting to bear fruit. The EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement entered into force in July 2011. We see today the benefits of this agreement with a more than 20% increase in our exports during both the first and second year of implementation. A considerable part of your work will also consist of monitoring the implementation of these agreements as well as those that you will be called upon to approve in the next few years.

This Committee has indeed witnessed the finalisation of quite a few agreements that are now ready, or about to become ready for consent: the DCFTAs with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, which are now signed, our deal with West Africa, which will soon be ready for signature, and the political agreements with Canada and Singapore, where we hope to finalise the outstanding technical issues soon. Only last week, we concluded negotiations on an Economic Partnership Agreement with Southern African countries and with Ecuador on its accession to the agreement we already have with Colombia and Peru. One agreement I would still like to conclude over summer is with the East African Community. However, this shall not be done at the cost of our obligation under the treaty to safeguard human rights through EU trade agreements.

One last point on EPAs, before the end of the month, the Commission hopes to present a solution to Council and Parliament to help preserve preferences beyond 1 October for Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Fiji and, if the conditions are right, Cameroon too, in the light of recent positive developments. I cannot pre-empt a College decision by saying more but would of course appreciate the support of this Committee at the right time.

In the meantime, we have more than 15 active bilateral negotiations underway, including with the US, Japan, Mercosur, Morocco and Vietnam, which you will be called to monitor in the following months and years.

If you really insist, I could say something on TTIP. We had a very long debate in plenary only last week. And I would of course be ready to take your questions on the most talked-of negotiations in town. Chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero was with you this morning to report on last week’s negotiations.

I will only add to what you have heard a point I made last week. I am a strong believer in public debate and on my watch we have had plenty with this Committee and your colleagues in plenary. I am also conscious of my responsibility to present facts and substance, and not false truths about a negotiation that is not even concluded. We are not what our detractors make us out to be. The Commission negotiates on the basis of existing EU legislation and hears a very broad range of views on an almost-daily basis. We know where our responsibilities lie.

I will only have a few months left to work together with you under the mandate. And I hope that we can use this time to move forward on a number of pending issues that I consider important.

First of all, there are two legislative proposals that the Commission made in March 2012 and April 2013 respectively, the International Procurement Instrument and the Modernisation of Trade Defence Instruments. Parliament has considerably advanced but the Council is still examining them. The current Italian Presidency is very dedicated to move these files forward. I very much hope that this Parliament will resume work as left off in April, so that you could be in a position, when Council is ready, to swiftly move to negotiations and find fair compromises together.

A brief word too about a recent proposal on conflict minerals, which I am deeply interested in, for I have seen the human tragedies caused by trade in conflict minerals in Africa. The proposal is based on a carefully-thought approach to promote responsible sourcing from conflict-affected areas without disrupting legitimate trade without which communities have no viable economic livelihoods other than recruitment in armed groups. So I welcome the fact that Parliament is now in a position to start examining this important piece of legislation and I hope that the balance we sought can be preserved.

Finally, we have also proposed in June to extend autonomous trade preferences for Western Balkan countries for another five years. I hope work can start soon on this file, even if preferences granted to Bosnia and Herzegovina may be suspended as of 1 January 2016, unless they fully treat Croatian exports as EU exports.

As regards pending negotiations, we are moving step-by-step towards conclusion with Canada. Following the political break-through of last October, our negotiators have worked very hard to finalise all remaining technical issues and to transpose the elements of the break-through into legal text. In some instances this has proven more difficult than we thought, but I am confident that the end is now in sight. As soon as the negotiators have completed their job, you will receive the consolidated text of all chapters. However, it is clear that this is one of the most ambitious agreements we have concluded so far going well beyond what Canada conceded to the US in the context of NAFTA. This is no mean achievement.

The FTA with Singapore is the EU’s first agreement with a Southeast Asian economy, laying down state-of-the-art rules on the full range of trade issues. Negotiations in the investment protection chapter started later and are being finalised as we speak, to be included as an integral part of the FTA for signature.

In March, we have launched negotiations on an investment protection agreement with Myanmar/Burma. No Member State has concluded one with this country, so this agreement will give EU investors much needed guarantees for their investments. We will push for the inclusion of provisions on sustainable development, covering social and environmental issues of relevance in an investment context, and to promote Corporate Social Responsibility and responsible business conduct. In addition, negotiations with China will also continue.

Before concluding, I would like to say a few words about the multilateral trading system, which despite the many other efforts underway, remains the cornerstone of the EU’s trade policy. In December last year, Members of the World Trade Organization reached a historic agreement on several issues from the Doha Development Agenda, including a brand-new Trade Facilitation Agreement, and opening the door to further work on the DDA. We are also advancing on a number of closely related initiatives. Negotiations to liberalise trade in environmental goods and services were formally launched this month, and we are moving towards concluding the review of the Information Technology Agreement, to liberalise trade in several products not covered before. Lastly, work is also advancing on the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) to create a better playing field in trade in services, despite the challenge of how to dock such a large plurilateral agreement within the WTO system.

Press Releases: Joint Statement on U.S.-Germany Cyber Bilateral Meeting

The text of the following statement was issued jointly by the Governments of the United States of America and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany on the occasion of the US-Germany Cyber Bilateral Meeting June 26, 2014.

Begin Text:

The Governments of the United States and Germany held a Cyber Bilateral Meeting in Berlin, Germany on June 26, 2014.

This third annual U.S.-Germany Cyber Bilateral Meeting reinforced our long-standing alliance by highlighting our pre-existing collaboration on many key cyber issues over the course of the last decade and identifying additional areas for awareness and alignment. The U.S.-Germany Cyber Bilateral Meeting continued and further expanded its “whole-of-government” approach, furthering cooperation on a wide range of cyber issues and our collaborative engagement on both strategic and operational objectives.

Strategic objectives include affirming common approaches in Internet governance, Internet freedom, and international cyber security; partnering with the private sector to protect critical infrastructure; and pursuing coordination efforts on cyber capacity building in third countries. The discussions of Internet governance issues focused on continued efforts to bolster support for the multi-stakeholder model for Internet governance, particularly after the successful conclusion of the NETmundial Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The United States and Germany will continue their close cooperation on these issues as the preparations for Internet Governance Forum 9 in Istanbul, Turkey are underway, and as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is convening the multistakeholder community to develop a proposal to transition the stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) function from the U.S. Government.

Discussions of the Information Society issues also included the preparations for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, Korea in October and the United Nations General Assembly’s 10 year review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) focusing on development and continued efforts to realize a global, open, inclusive Internet for all. Additional strategic objectives included expanding the Freedom Online Coalition, and the application of norms and responsible state behavior in cyberspace, particularly as the UN Group of Governmental Experts is poised to start its next effort and building on the successful 2013 consensus report affirming the applicability of international law to state behavior in cyberspace.

Operational objectives comprise bilateral cybersecurity cooperation measures such as exchanging information on cyber issues of mutual concern such as critical information infrastructure protection and identifying greater cooperation measures on detecting and mitigating cyber incidents, raising awareness, combating cybercrime, and implementing the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE’s) confidence-building measures to reduce risk,

The bilateral meeting took place the day before the U.S.-Germany Cyber Dialogue, a multistakeholder event organized jointly by the German Foreign Office and the U.S. Department of State and focused on big data, privacy, security, economic innovation, and international cyber cooperation. The Cyber Dialogue will be hosted by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier; John Podesta, Counselor to President Obama will also provide keynote remarks. A high level panel of both German and U.S. experts will discuss big data, privacy, security, economic innovation, and international cyber cooperation. Participants from government, industry, civil society and academia will have the chance to discuss these issues and provide input for potential solutions.

The U.S.-Germany Cyber Bilateral Meeting was hosted by Ambassador Dirk Brengelmann, Commissioner for International Cyber Policy and the German delegation included representatives from the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Ministry of Defense, the Federal Chancellery, the Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology, and the Federal Office for Information Security. The U.S. delegation was led by Secretary of State’s Coordinator for Cyber Issues, Christopher Painter, and included representatives from the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, the National Security Council and the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President.

Coordinator Painter and Ambassador Brengelmann agreed to hold the next annual Cyber Bilateral Meeting in Washington, DC in mid-2015 again in conjunction with a multistakeholder cyber dialogue.

President Barroso’s speech at the Euroscience Open Forum

European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

President Barroso’s speech at the Euroscience Open Forum

Science building bridges

Euroscience Open Forum

Copenhagen, 22 June 2014

Your Majesty,

Dear Minister [Sofie Carsten-Nielsen, Minister of Higher Education and Science]

Dear Chair of ESOF [ESOF2014 Champion Professor Klaus Bock]

Dear President [Euroscience President, Professor Lauritz Holm-Nielsen]

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be here with you today for the 2014 Euroscience Open Forum. I would like to thank you for inviting me to take part in this very important event.

In a country with over 400 islands, with three bridges over six kilometres long, what more appropriate theme could have been given to this Forum than “Science building bridges”.

A country world-known for its scientific leadership; for its expertise across a range of fields, from clean technology to biotechnology, from pharmaceuticals to telecommunications.

A country proud and confident about its knowledge-based society, renowned for its openness, and desire to cooperate internationally; a country whose bridge, the Oresund Bridge, links, not just two countries, i.e. Sweden and Denmark, but Europe’s regions, from Scandinavia to Western and Central Europe.

Your Majesty,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

[Europe 2020/Horizon 2020]

As we start to move out of the worst financial and economic crisis since the 1930s, now is the time to focus on building a strong, sustainable future.

On building a bridge between our past scientific traditions and a world where we share increasingly important global challenges and where we need innovative solutions.

That is precisely why, back in 2010, we put in place our new Europe 2020 strategy, designed to build a balanced, knowledge-based economy, with education, science, research and innovation at its very heart.

That is also why we have managed to make the seven year budget for our European research programme, Horizon 2020, 30% larger than its predecessor, despite the slight decrease in the European budget as a whole. It was not easy but we got it. We managed to convince Member States that at least the science and innovation budget should be increased. At 80 billion Euros over seven years, Horizon 2020 is one of if not the largest research and innovation programme in the world, designed to complement other sources of national and private financing.

We have therefore managed to match ambition with resources, giving you the researchers the stability and long term commitment that you need.

This goes to show, as we discuss the challenges facing us in the years ahead, that science does indeed matter for the future of Europe.

Not just to a large audience such as yours, but to everyone in our societies. Because I believe that our social and economic progress and many of the solutions to today’s problems will come from science. And I would even say that “The future of Europe is science”.

[Successes]

As our recent Communication on research and innovation as sources for growth has shown, we have a lot to be confident about.

Europe undoubtedly remains a world leader in science and has the capacity to innovate.

Our European Research Area remains the largest knowledge-production house in the world: we have twice the number of science and technology graduates in Europe than in the United States; and with 7% of the world’s population, we still produce roughly a third not only of the GDP, but also of patents and high impact scientific publications.

And despite the financial and economic crisis we have managed to halve the innovation gap that we still have with the United States and Japan.

[More to do]

But we cannot afford to stand still, in a world where scientific and technological progress is accelerating at an unprecedented pace, and where South Korea is moving further ahead, with China quickly catching us up.

So we must adapt to the new challenges and new ways of working in the 21st Century.

The role of digital technologies and the wealth of information and data that is being produced pose many questions about how science and research will be performed in the future. I know that Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, whom I would like to congratulate, for her commitment and passion on these issues during her term as Commissioner, will discuss this particular matter with you on Tuesday morning.

We must also adapt our culture so that women are better represented in research and science, another matter close to my heart: indeed, whilst women hold 45% of all PhDs in Europe, they only represent 30% of career researchers.

Last but not least, we must bring in our younger generation into science and innovation, reinforcing and tailoring our educational systems so that they more fully embrace creativity and risk.

This is key to Europe’s future.

Your Majesty,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to highlight briefly five bridges that we have been building and that we must collectively continue to build.

First, we are building bridges between all the scientific disciplines. Our Innovation Union seeks to mainstream science and innovation across all sectors, and cross-fertilise your ideas to develop new technologies, products and services for the complex multi-disciplinary challenges in our societies. This is why Horizon 2020 champions a challenge-based approach and why the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, recently launched its Call for Proposals for the Knowledge and Innovation Communities.

Secondly, we are building bridges between researchers and the general public. Horizon 2020 is a large programme, with a broad set of objectives from excellence in science – with the European Research Council now chaired by Professor Bourguignon – to industrial leadership and a number of key societal challenges, allowing us to focus on the big priorities relevant to every European citizen. I am very proud of the ERC. But in order to ensure that the progress you make, for example on new vaccinations or nano-technology, is properly explained and embraced rather than feared, across society, we need a considerable communication effort from scientists themselves as well as from policy makers. There is an important role for the media here.

Thirdly, we are building bridges between the laboratory and the marketplace. After 30 years of negotiation, we finally agreed a European-wide patent. Once fully implemented, this will reduce the cost by up to 80% for small and medium sized businesses and individual researchers to register their creative ideas. This should encourage more private investment, because at 1.30% of GDP, we still lag behind the United States, Japan or South Korea, where private investment, venture capital and the culture of risk are more widely shared.

Fourthly, we are building bridges between Member States. With the European Research Area, we are encouraging reforms for a greater mobility of researchers and for pan-European research infrastructures.

But our countries must make an equal effort in research if we are to bridge the gap in investment across Europe, and if research opportunities are available across Europe. Collectively, we are missing our Europe 2020 target of 3% GDP in research and development, averaging just under 2%, with more regional disparity and ten Member States still averaging under 1%. We are doing fiscal consolidation but we need smart fiscal consolidation.

Finally, we are building bridges internationally, trying to reach out to all countries in the world. Only two weeks ago, I signed an agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, granting Israel – a leading nation in science and innovation – access to our Horizon 2020 programme, as part of our science diplomacy. The principle behind this agreement, as well as with agreements we have with twenty other partners, is simple: it is that we can tackle together more smartly and efficiently the global challenges we face. And this is also why I am pleased to see so many international participants at today’s Forum.

[Conclusion]

Your Majesty,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We cannot afford to rest.

And although Niels Bohr once said that prediction is very difficult, especially if it is about the future, I have nevertheless asked the Science and Technology Advisory Council and Professor Anne Glover, my Chief Scientific Adviser, to produce a report on foresight. Let me take this opportunity to thank them for their dedication to this work, which will be unveiled in the conference “The future of Europe is science”, to be held in Lisbon on 6th and 7th of October.

I look forward to a successful Euroscience Forum and to an ever increasing role of Europe in science and innovation, with a view to the next Forum in 2016, in Manchester.

Thank you.

Press Releases: Remarks on the Trafficking in Persons Report 2014

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thank you, operator. I’m Jeff Rathke, director of the Press Office here at the State Department. And today we’re doing a call with Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, who is Ambassador-At-Large to Combat Trafficking in Persons. So today’s call will be on the record, but it will be embargoed until the end of Secretary Kerry’s rollout event.

So Ambassador CdeBaca has been in this position for a number of years; he doesn’t really need any introduction to most of you. So I will just turn it over to him and ask him to give us introduction to this year’s report, and then we’ll take some questions afterwards. So please, Ambassador.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Thanks, Jeff. Hello, everybody, and welcome. As Jeff said, Secretary Kerry will be unveiling the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report. This, of course, is a congressionally mandated report that has us look at the governments around the world and what they are doing to combat trafficking in persons – modern slavery – through the lens of what we call the 3P paradigm of prevention, protection, and prosecution. And in fact, I think as you see the embargoed copy of the report that I think many of you have, you’ll notice that each of the narratives of what’s happening in the countries actually are laid out in that fashion so that you can kind of see exactly how it is that we are analyzing the countries, and frankly, what the evidence is for the eventual ranking.

The rankings – the – it’s a four-tiered ranking system, and so – because it was made by us in the United States by our Congress, it has three tiers for its four-tier ranking. Let me explain what that means. We have Tier One, which is a country that’s actually meeting the minimum standards of fighting human trafficking. And those minimum standards are set out in our trafficking law of 2000, but really track the international standards and best practices that we see around the world. A Tier Two country is one that is not meeting those goals but is striving to do so and has results that you can point to to show that it’s doing a decent job, but could definitely improve.

A Tier Two Watch List – and this is how we get four tiers out of a one, two, and three. The Tier Two Watch List is kind of like a C minus or something like that in the American grading system. It’s warning the countries that are on the Watch List that they are in danger of falling to Tier Three. And one of the biggest categories for that is if what the country is doing is simply in the form of promises of future action. Again, we look for results. And if we can’t show the results on the ground, the actual outcomes, et cetera, then that does not bode well when we’re doing the analysis. And then finally Tier Three, which is a country that is not responding sufficiently to its trafficking problem, isn’t taking those affirmative steps forward, and we’re not – excuse me – seeing the progress that we need to see, especially in light of their particular trafficking problem.

So that’s a quick tour through the tier rankings, and I think that a lot of folks are very interested in that, much like horserace coverage of elections. But I want to talk a few of the top lines as well, as far as what are we seeing in the global fight against modern slavery this year. Very quick review of what we’re talking about when we talk about human trafficking, the definition – this is a umbrella term that the United States Government considers to cover all of the activities involved in reducing someone to or holding them in a condition of compelled service. So there’s nothing in there about moving them across international borders. There’s nothing in there that limits it simply to women or girls. There’s nothing in there that limits it to only in other countries. And there’s nothing in there that limits it only to prostitution or the sex industry as opposed to other forms of trafficking.

So each year for every one of these countries, we’re looking at what are they doing for all of the populations that are victimized by trafficking: How are they helping them? Are they prosecuting the perpetrators and bringing them to justice? And are they working to prevent? And when I say “they,” I mean all of the governments that we look at.

And one of those governments is the United States. The United States has been included in the trafficking report since 2010. The State Department began to rank ourselves in that report for two reasons. First of all, I think that there was a sense during the Obama Administration that it was simply a matter of fairness to all of the other countries; if we’re going to hold them to these minimum standards, that we needed to hold ourselves to them as well. But then also the notion of as a diagnostic tool. If these 11 minimum standards that you’re supposed to look at to see whether you’re doing a decent job on fighting trafficking – if those are truly to be a good diagnostic, then we owed it to ourselves to apply that diagnostic and to see where we could be doing better as the United States.

As far as that’s concerned, I want to just make the point that I think many of you may have already heard me or the Secretary say, which is that no country is doing a perfect job on the fight against human trafficking, and that includes the United States. We are all in this together, because we’re seeing people around the world – whether it’s in agriculture or whether it’s in mining, whether it’s in manufacturing, whether it’s in the sex industry, whether it’s as domestic servants – that when you have unscrupulous and cruel bosses and vulnerable people, you have a recipe for human trafficking. And that’s as true here even in the Washington, D.C. area and the suburbs, as it is in countries around the world.

So I’d certainly, although I think that we’ll probably be looking at some of the other countries, I’d certainly recommend to you all the U.S. narrative as well so you can see what the U.S. Government is doing but also what’s happening out in our communities across the United States, whether it’s to Native American girls, whether it’s to vulnerable men and women because of a disability or a drug addiction, or whether it’s to the young men and women, boys, and girls, who fall prey to the blandishments of pimps who offer a better life and opportunity.

Let me take it a little bit more international though. This year, we see of the 188 countries that are on the report, we see some movement up and down. There’s, I think, some real progress stars, I guess, for lack of a better word, some countries out there that have – that we’ve seen some real progress on. For instance, both Chile and Switzerland are moving up to Tier One on the report this year. Switzerland because they took aggressive steps to close some legal loopholes that actually inadvertently made it legal for people to have children in prostitution. Chad has really stepped up on victim identification and demobilization of child soldiers. We’ve seen the first convictions in the Bahamas and Aruba – small countries, small island countries that, frankly, five years ago would’ve said that they didn’t have any human trafficking. But they’ve realized that it’s something that they have to look for. And once they’ve looked for it, they’ve found it and been able to free some of its victims.

We’ve seen the first government-run shelter being opened by the Government of Jordan. The – a new law recently passed in Haiti – the first time now in 215 or so years in which it is now a crime to enslave someone in Haiti, a law much-awaited in South Africa that we hope will be a good tool in that which is very much the destination country for the southern tier countries in Africa. And even a country that has historically not been a leader on human rights issues, Sudan, the enactment of a modern human trafficking law that’s really the culmination of that government’s coming out and wanting to be able to have those modern tools so that they can help their own citizens and others who might be enslaved and exploited.

There are also downgrades, and I think that that’s something that we see every year – countries that are perhaps taking the foot off the gas pedal a little bit or aren’t doing the kind of work that we would see under the law. And I think one of the things that’s, of course, since the 2008 reauthorization that is of particular note under the U.S. law is what we call the auto-downgrade provisions of the law. This came into effect fully last year for the first time. The law in 2008 basically said that countries cannot be on that Tier Two Watch List that I described a minute ago for too many years in a row, because there was a concern, frankly, on the part of Congress that strategic countries and other countries were being given a bit of a pass and not being taken down to Tier Three but holding steady on Tier Two Watch Lists almost, it seemed to Congress I think, interminably.

And so they put a time limitation on that and – by which time a government has to either improve or will be dropped down to Tier Three on the report. There were seven such countries this year that were in that situation no longer eligible for a waiver in the U.S. national interest. And those were Afghanistan, Barbados, Chad, Malaysia, the Maldives, Thailand, and Venezuela. And what we’ve seen is the two – excuse me, three – of those Tier Two Watch Lists auto-downgrade countries were no longer eligible, and we concluded that there hadn’t been the type of sufficient progress to justify an upgrade. And those were Thailand, Malaysia, and Venezuela. And so each of those countries has now been placed on Tier Three in the report.

In the other countries – Afghanistan, Barbados, Chad, and the Maldives – in each of those countries we see fresh activity. We see new commitments to doing work. We see this notion of cases being done in the first place or victims being helped in new ways. And it’s certainly something that is welcome. And frankly, these are countries who may not have, if it weren’t for the pressure of the auto-downgrade and the good work of our men and women out at our embassies in those countries and others to work with them, might not have been able to make that journey.

I want to say two things about sectoral issues that we’ve been identifying that may be news to some. I think that many people may be aware of some of the abuses that we’ve been recognizing in the last few years in the fishing industry. And in fact we’ve seen the fishing sector now – 51 of the narratives in the TIP report this year are identifying abuses in the fishing industry. And that’s both men that are enslaved out on the boats out at sea and folks in the seafood packing huts and things like that.

But we’ve also seen forced labor in mining noted in the narratives of 46 countries and zero prosecutions or convictions around the world. So we’re very much looking for countries to step up on the mining sector, and that’s everything from things that we might call conflict minerals in Africa or conflict diamonds in North Africa, Northwest Africa, or what we see with the gold mining sector, for instance, in Peru and other places.

And sadly, just as we’ve seen in the fishing industry or the logging industry, there are follow-on effects of a subsidiary sex trafficking that happens – basically men who are enslaved in these camps, held in debt bondage through the old company store scheme, they then bring the women in to serve them as well. So whether it’s in Guyana, Peru, or other places like that, you end up seeing sex trafficking related to the mining sector. And we want to commend Senegal for being the only country in the world this last year who actually achieved a conviction of folks for holding girls in sex trafficking in that mining sector.

Lastly, just want to also point out that there is the child soldiers and Child Soldier Prevention Act list, which is part of the trafficking report each year. And this year one of the countries on that was removed, and that is Chad, as I mentioned earlier, who’s, I think, coming at this with a real energy now. And we hope that we’ll continue to see that on their part.

So I think perhaps we should turn it over and do some questions. Jeff, I’ll leave it back to you.

MR. RATHKE: Thanks very much, Ambassador. Operator, could you please inform everyone or remind them how to register – intend to ask a question?

OPERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, if you would like to ask a question, please press * then 1 on your touchtone phone. You will hear a tone indicating you have been placed in a queue, and you may remove yourself from queue at any time by pressing the # key. If you are using a speakerphone, please pick up the handset before pressing the numbers. Once again, if you have a question, please press *1 at this time. And a moment here for the first question.

MR. RATHKE: All right. That’s great. We’re ready to go to the first question then, so could you please call the first question, operator?

OPERATOR: Our first question comes from the line of Dana Hughes at ABC News. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Thank you for doing this. I have a question about what role you see governance or the breakdown of governance in these rankings. For example, Thailand’s been downgraded and they had a coup. Chad is really increasing its governance. Do you see a direct correlation?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, it’s interesting, because the Thailand narrative and the Thailand ranking is based on everything that happened from April 1st, 2013 through March 31st, 2014. And so the coup that you mentioned didn’t happen within that time period. Obviously, there was some fraying around the edges within the Royal Thai Government, and yet the committed folks within the government who were trying to work on this within their own agencies, the – some folks at the Royal Thai Police and folks in the ministry of health and social development – they continued to go out and try to fight trafficking because it was something that they had that personal commitment to.

What we see that’s, I think, perhaps somewhat relevant to that in the Thailand situation that’s very much part of the – kind of permeates the narrative is the anchor on those good efforts of those good people that public corruption and complicity on the part of government officials then places around those who would try to do better. So I think that that kind of corruption and its effect on governance directly undercuts the good work of the folks who are trying to get everything right.

It’s interesting because I think that what we see is this is a rule of law problem. It’s a human rights problem as well. But there are a number of countries in which the government functions at a very high level that human trafficking victims simply aren’t on the radar. And I think that that’s reflected kind of throughout the report that rule of law only is going to work for trafficking victims if governments affirmatively try to bring it to bear on the plight of these vulnerable communities.

So while some of those kind of looking at instability and looking at general governance issues, there often seems to be some correlation. I think that we’ve also seen a lot of human trafficking in cases that are – in countries that are viewed as being governed well and that do well on indices, whether it’s Freedom House or otherwise.

MR. RATHKE: Okay, thanks. Could we move on to the next question, please?

OPERATOR: Okay, our next question comes from the line of Jo Biddle at AFP. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hello, good afternoon. Thank you very much. I wanted to ask you about sanctions. I know that there’s a possibility that downgrades can be accompanied by sanctions if the President so decides. And last year we saw Russia and China both downgraded into Tier Three. Were there any sanctions that were accompanied with that, and do you anticipate that with these new downgrades of Thailand, Malaysia and Venezuela that there could be sanctions forthcoming if they do not get their act together?

And I had a follow-up – a different question as well, but perhaps I’ll just ask that one first.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Of course. The sanctions determination is something that we’ll be turning to at this point. There are not just those three countries that are on Tier Three. In fact, there are 23 countries on Tier Three this year. But I think that what we look at each year is, first of all, we have to see what is it that the sanctions analysis has to look at. And first stop is to actually look at what foreign assistance we have because that’s really what we’re talking about. The sanctions here is whether or not the United States will continue to provide foreign assistance. So the first thing that we always have to look at is what is being provided to those particular governments and then also to look to see to what degree we’re providing aid that goes directly to helping fix the thing that we’re trying to solve. So you certainly wouldn’t want to halt the – any assistance that’s going specifically to increasing the capacity of our partners in those governments to fight human trafficking or to help its victims.

So those are some of the things that we’ll take into account as we work with the White House and as we give our recommendations to the President. At the end of the day, this is his decision. And last year, the three auto-downgrade countries that you mentioned – China, Russia, and Uzbekistan – the President decided that it was in the U.S. national interest and would promote the purposes of the trafficking law to waive sanctions against them as well as several other countries. And those are countries that we, again, are very much wanting to and feel we can engage with in order to move forward.

Last year, full sanctions were applied against Cuba, Iran, and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and partial sanctions were applied against the DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you very much. And I wondered if I could ask about – I had another question. I wondered if I could ask about the situation in the United States. You give the United States a Tier One ranking, but I believe there have been some issues with money, funds running out for shelters for survivors, and there’s also an issue of, particularly in the sex trafficking, with children being treated as criminals rather than being treated as victims and ending up in front of courts or in cells instead of in – or in police cells rather than in shelters. I did note in the report that you say that there’s much more to be done still in the United States. What are you recommending specifically for the United States in terms of improving your own balance sheet?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Yeah. I mean, I think that to the notion of the funding issues, clearly a lot of social service providers, not just in the trafficking arena but others as well, that were depending upon per capita type of reimbursements from the United States Government, didn’t necessarily get those as quickly as they could have last year. We had a number of things, including the near – the government shutdown and the sequester and other things like that.

Our funding stream that HHS – the Department of Health and Human Services – does is actually – it is a per capita reimbursement. It’s not a kind of one-time grant at the beginning of the year that then the nongovernmental can draw down on. And one of the reasons for that is that there are thousands and thousands of service providers across the United States who may encounter a trafficking victim, and it may be that that’s not their fulltime job, so they wouldn’t be writing a grant specifically for that.

My understanding is that those reimbursements were able to continue and that folks have been backfilled for any monies that they spent on behalf of the trafficking victims. But I think it does show that there’s a need for better thought to be put in.

And that was one of the reasons why, on the plus side of the column this year, we announced in January at the White House the first-ever victim services strategy for the United States, which was brought together by the President’s interagency task force to actually look at this action plan. And we’re very proud of the fact that that was brought in with close consultation with survivors of trafficking, so that we could hear what it was that they had been through, what they saw as the shortcomings.

One of the things, frankly, that we’re having to deal with is a bunch of legacy systems. The child protective services systems in all of the states, each grew up independently and they grew up at a time before the Trafficking Victims Protection Act started looking at child prostitutes, for instance, as victims rather than as criminals. So going back to each state now and trying to get it so that they can make it very clear that these are not delinquent children but dependent children under each of the state laws and making sure that the child protective services understands that these are not criminals but victims is unpacking a multi-billion dollar effort across 57 states and territories as well as at the federal level.

So I think that, in looking at that and looking at the problems of the foster care system, et cetera, we’ve started to see not only the Administration but Congress focusing on that. But at the end of the day, all of the money that’s been appropriated for human trafficking work and all of the legislative fixes to some of those programs are just a drop in the bucket compared to the enormous child protective services structures that we need to turn around to recognize the trafficking victims in their midst.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thanks. Next question please.

OPERATOR: Next question comes from the line of Luis Alonso at AP. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Good afternoon. Many thanks for doing this. I have two questions as well, if I may. The first one is I couldn’t find a regional summary of the report, so I would like to ask if you could please give – provide us with a comment on the Western Hemisphere, how – what the general trend, how many countries were downgraded – how many countries were downgraded, is it improvement or not compared to last year?

And my second question is, given – related to the unaccompanied minors that are coming through the south border from Central America, is – we all know that the United States has put all those kids into removal proceedings right now. If a big number of them end up being deported and go – sent back to their countries where there is extraordinary violence and many presence of human trafficking, do you foresee that the United States could drop the Tier One position because of this element of the unaccompanied minor who comes into America? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, let me answer that backwards with the second question first. I think that one of the things that we’re doing is that we are working with the governments in the region to try to improve not only the situation so that families don’t feel that they have to get their children out of harm’s way, whether it’s with gangs or otherwise, but also so that those children can be reunited with their families back home.

The law in question, of the unaccompanied alien minors, is looking to protect them, and which is one of the reasons why the Department of Health and Human Services is involved, unlike with adults who would be interdicted at the border. And in fact, one of the things that is done as part of the unaccounted – unaccompanied alien minor screening is to see whether or not those children were victims of trafficking in that situation. And as with all folks who come before the immigration judges and go through the system, we hope that that kind of screening would be able to help us find the people who need the particular services that trafficking victims so desperately need, and to be able to get them those services.

As far as the hemisphere as a whole, I think that is some movement up, there is some movement down within the hemisphere. Perhaps the most notable downgrade in the hemisphere is not the Venezuelan story from Tier Two Watch List down to Tier Three, but rather the downgrade of Colombia, a country that’s been on Tier One for many consecutive years. I think that what it stands for is the notion that Tier One is not a reprieve, it’s a responsibility, and the responsibility to continue to investigate cases, to continue to seek out good victim care interventions, and to look at all forms of trafficking. The Colombians were focused so much on international sex trafficking of Colombians and transnational cases that cases of Colombians at home and others, whether it was in the mining sector, whether it was in the sex or domestic servants, simply weren’t registering. And as a result, we now see them on Tier Two.

So the movement on the one hand of Chile up to Tier One because of the new law that they passed a few years ago and their very aggressive stance in enforcing that new law unfortunately then is kind of paired with the Colombian situation, where a bit of stagnation cannot keep a country on the highest level.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thanks. Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from the line of (inaudible) at US News and World. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about Thailand’s downgrade, specifically the government’s shortcomings, considering all the media reports this last year or so discussing their human trafficking problem and why the government has failed to really address it.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, as I said earlier – and I want to make it very clear that we know and we have worked with some very good actors in the Thai Government who are kind of on the front lines who are trying very hard to make a difference over there. But the widespread official complicity in human trafficking that continues to hinder their performance against sex trafficking and forced labor, the government as a whole did not demonstrate serious efforts to address that. It made few efforts to address forced labor and debt bondage among the most vulnerable communities – the foreign migrant workers, including in the fishing industry.

And even though we saw this notion of some better data collection and some – an uptick in investigations by the royal Thai police, those didn’t necessarily translate over into completed convictions. You’ll see in the report, for instance, a situation where some Burmese members of a conspiracy were arrested and ended up being sentenced to 30 years in prison for their role in trafficking men in the fish industry, and yet the Thai co-conspirator, who held 14 men in confinement as part of the slavery scheme, he ended up only getting three months as an alien smuggling conviction.

And so we’re looking at each of the cases that we know about. We’re looking at the situations on the ground to see – is this something that the bosses in the brothels and the bosses in the fishing packing sheds and things can simply brush off as business as usual? Is it something that they can bribe their way out of? Or is it something that has real teeth going forward? And we look forward to working with the Thais in the coming year to not only provide that real teeth, but hopefully achieve some real results.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thank you. Next question, please.

OPERATOR: All right. Our next question comes from Josh Stilts at Intrafish Media. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks again for hosting this. You said earlier that there were some 53 countries that have shown instances of slave labor or human trafficking in the fishing and seafood industries. Beyond Thailand, what other instances are you guys seeing?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: I think it’s actually 51. Sorry if —

QUESTION: Fifty-one, sure.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: — I misspoke. Well, we’ve seen, as far as a country that’s acting, the Indonesians have actually arrested some folks and there’s prosecutions going there. But there are some very nontraditional places. There – I don’t think a lot of people think of South Africa necessarily in this context, and yet the South Africans suddenly found themselves with a boatload of fishermen with – who had been basically shanghaied from Cambodia. We’ve seen in the Caribbean, in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, situations where this has been discovered on the boats; Costa Rica on the west coast, finding Chinese fishermen in these dire straits; African men and African children on boats in the gulf off of the Green Coast and everything kind of ranging down from Liberia all the way down to Nigeria.

And I think that that’s one of the things that the more we look at this, the more we find this in surprising places. There were reports this last year by Stella Maris, the apostolate of the sea, which is the Vatican’s kind of specialized unit of – I call them the sea priests, who go out on the boats to try to mission to the fishermen. And at a conference that the Pope hosted in – earlier this year with those priests, suddenly there were reports coming out from the fishery in Scotland of abuses up there.

So I think it’s something that we’re hearing about. We’re hearing about it on inland fisheries such as Lake Victoria and Lake Volta, but we’re also hearing about it in the Baltics and in, as I said, places as unusual as Scotland or South Africa.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thanks. Next question please.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Maya Rhodan from the TIME magazine. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks again for the call. I have a question about the LGBT community and how – can you just speak to how instances of trafficking that involve LGBT people were factored into any of the rankings or if there are any countries where this is a particular issue or if there’s still more digging around that needs to be done on that?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: I’m very glad you raised that. It is something that we’re seeing more of. I think that it’s something that, because it’s been so taboo for a lot of countries to even admit that these communities are part of the social fabric, much less worthy of protection, that in some ways we’re just kind of opening the bidding on this issue. I think a lot of folks are aware of and know of issues of survival sex of the homeless kids who are in many ways trying to put together their own families and their own communities. But I think a lot of folks, whether it’s in the public health arenas or even in the LGBT activist communities, have tended to look at that and not see the pimps and the controllers that sometimes are behind that.

And we’re seeing in a number of countries around the world – I remember last year, when I was in Kenya, for instance, the interplay, the horrible interplay between on the one hand the effects of terrorism in the northeast and even in Somalia, with families trying to get their kids out of that area so that their sons don’t have to be fighters for Shabaab, and then they end up in sex trafficking down on the coast in the tourist zones. And I think it’s one of those things where, because of attitudes against the LGBT community, a lot of folks that were even working or willing to talk about other forms of trafficking were having a very hard time even wanting to admit that those young boys might have been in human trafficking situations.

And this happens in the United States. There was a case, I think it was last year, in the Atlanta area where a man was convicted for human trafficking of a teenaged American kid who, frankly, he lured in because of that kid’s loneliness and seeking to have some meaning as he struggled with his own sexuality.

So it’s something that we’re going to be looking at a lot more carefully. It’s like the fishing issues a few years ago, where we had just started to hear it, and then now that we’re looking for it, we’re seeing it in a lot of different places. I think that we’re going to be seeing more coverage of this in the coming years. And we’ve started having conversations with some of the key players in the United States, like the Human Rights Campaign and others, so that we can bring to bear the folks who are working in the affected communities.

MR. RATHKE: All right. I see – I think we have three questions remaining, so we will go through those, and then we will wrap up from here. So, operator, could you call the next question?

OPERATOR: All right. The next question comes from Jeanine Stewart at Undercurrent News. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you for having this, first of all. So first off, I’m wondering two things. How much has human – has the human trafficking problem grown in the fishing industry in 2013 over 2012? I’m just curious, is this a growing problem or is this just something that we’ve become more aware of with Thailand in the spotlight over it? And also, how much certainty is there in the investigation? Can you reveal anything about how they were conducted or how sure the State Department is that Thailand’s officials were complicit in some of the human trafficking that occurred? Because I – since I know that the Thai Government has said that’s not true. So how do we weed through the “he said, she said” on that one?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, I think that what we’ve seen in – as far as complicity in Thailand is whether – it’s not just in fishing but in a number of different sectors, the very reputable researchers, whether it’s your Human Rights Watches, whether it’s Transparency and some of the other indices looking at corruption as an issue. But specifically, there’s I think been some very good reporting even by the media as opposed to by academic researchers or others as to the involvement of Thai officials. And that’s something that’s reflected in the narrative.

One of the things that’s also reflected in the narrative is then how the parts of the Royal Thai Government have responded to that type of reporting by journalists being charged with criminal defamation —

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: — journalists and the folks who are willing to reprint articles even being charged. So that notion of not only is there, we think, good and solid reporting by a number of different actors, whether it’s, again, activists, academics, or journalists, but also the work that’s being done increasingly now by the food industry itself. And we very much encourage the seafood industry to start looking at these supply chain issues. We know that they can trace their product from the store shelf all the way back to the particular boat. We’ve seen the bar codes on the tubs, the plastic tubs of shrimp in the packing shed that are required that if there’s a health outbreak, they can take it all the way back to the particular shed, take it all the way back to the particular boat.

So since we know that the shrimp and the fish is traceable in those instances, we think also that what the particular captains and what the labor brokers that are working with them are doing needs to be something that comes under the microscope for the companies and their consumers as well.

MR. RATHKE: Okay, our penultimate question please, operator.

OPERATOR: All right. Our next question comes from Dmitri Zlodorev from ITAR-TASS. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hello. My name is Dmitri Zlodorev. I am from ITAR-TASS news wire service of Russia. You placed Russia to the third group, and how you would characterize the U.S.-Russian cooperation in this area? And am I right that right now you are not plan to impose sanctions against Russia? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Thank you, Dmitri. We can’t speak to sanctions at this point in time. It’s something that the White House will be looking at for all of the countries on Tier Three, and so I can’t speculate as to what would happen on that. I think we had talked about that a little bit earlier as far as last year was concerned.

But your question as far as what kind of cooperation between the United States and Russia on this, we’ve had a – I think a good dialogue over the years on human trafficking with our Russian counterparts. And we’re looking forward to what we hope will be some efforts in the coming year. We know that the government submitted an anti-trafficking action plan to the National Security Council and at this point has not heard back. We think that that certainly would be a very good step, to have a public and transparent anti-trafficking action plan. And it would be a sign of political will on the part of the Russian Federation.

One thing that I would like to say as far as U.S.-Russian cooperation is that we have been able to continue to work together over the last year to announce a trafficking shelter in St. Petersburg with space contributed by the municipality – so Russian government funding – and support from the United States Embassy in Moscow. Now that shelter is only going to be able to hold and serve eight trafficking victims, and the scope of trafficking in Russia that’s pointed out in the report, with the migrant foreign workers and others, is many, many more than that. But we do feel that it’s a good step and that we hope that working together, the Russian Government and the United States Government and the Red Cross partners will be able to provide a better life to the women who are able to avail themselves of that shelter.

MR. RATHKE: Okay, thank you. Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Teresa Busa from EFE. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I wanted to ask you about the specific case of Venezuela. I wonder if you could comment on that: how bad the situation is and what are the most worrying trends, and how is the U.S.-Venezuela cooperation in this area?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Indeed. Well, thank you for your question. I think that we were – a few years ago, as you know, Venezuela was brought up off of Tier Three in recognition of a number of cases that they were investigating and what looked like a commitment to working jointly between the police and the health service. And unfortunately, this last year we just haven’t really been able to see those same type of efforts. There’s a little bit of awareness raising and tourism training, but unlike most of the countries in the world, there’s not an interagency coordinating council that’s been brought together around the issue. There’s not an action plan or even a draft action plan. There’s no formal mechanism to identify the victims, and there’s no shelters that are designated for trafficking victims. In many ways, it seems that all of the victim care in Venezuela is being done by the nongovernmental organizations or by the international organizations.

And so we call on Venezuela to step up and to be involved in the victim care. And there’s so little public data on law enforcement that it does not appear that there were any reported convictions in 2013, as opposed to in 2012, where at least we were able to identify one person convicted of sex trafficking.

So as with all of these countries, we very much want to continue to be able to work together on this. This is a shared problem. It affects Venezuela, it affects the United States, and it affects the Western Hemisphere. And so we’ll be looking for ways in which we can continue to try to engage with the Venezuelans.

MR. RATHKE: Operator, we would have time for one final question, if there are any in the queue.

OPERATOR: All right. We did have one final question from Matthew Russell Lee at Inner City Press. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Sure. Thanks a lot, and thanks for taking the question. I was looking at Myanmar – Burma – and also at Sri Lanka. And in both cases, it seems to say – the report seems to say that that government is either, in the case of Burma, directly involved in trafficking in coercion; or in the case of Sri Lanka, suspected of complicity in it. So in those two cases, I wondered as the U.S. sort of re-engages with Myanmar or Burma, how does this issue get raised and how is it going to be resolved? And the same in the case of Sri Lanka where there’s this human rights inquiry. Is this – what can be done in terms of actual government complicity in trafficking?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, it’s interesting. Let me start with Burma. We – this is one of the first things that we re-engaged on. I was in Burma within I think about three weeks or a month after Secretary Clinton took her first historic trip there, and when I met with Aung San Suu Kyi, one of the things that was very interesting to me was that she recommended to me that I needed to talk to her jailor. And I asked her, “What do you mean?” And she said, “The guy from the secret police who was assigned to me to be my warden all of these years would bring me articles on human trafficking off of the Internet, and we would talk into the night about how we would work together to help end human trafficking and slavery for our people if things ever changed.” A lot of people forget that she spent her Nobel Prize money while she was in prison. She sent it World Vision, an NGO, to provide food and shelter for about 200 Burmese trafficking victims in Thailand. The first place that she went after she was able to travel was to the shrimp-packing sheds in Thailand where so many Burmese are affected by this crime.

So it was interesting to see not only her, but then eventually what came true is the new head of the anti-trafficking unit – the central body against trafficking in persons for the Burmese Government in the new era – is the very person who she recommended to me that we should work with. He’s written a book on trafficking; he’s gone to other parts of the region. I think there’s a real desire on the part of the Burmese Government to engage and to bring on some of these modern approaches.

And to that end, they even passed a law abolishing the 1907 Villages and Towns Act, which is what gave them the legal ability to enslave their own people. So the notion of giving that up as part of the process of opening up to the outside world. I think that, as with every country, there’s a long way to go, and we’ll continue to work with them. We have an established and formal dialogue with them that was agreed to by both presidents during President Obama’s visit a year and a half ago, and it’s something that I’ve been to Burma for that dialogue and will be, I think, going again in the fall for the second round of that. So we’re – in that situation, I think that we’ve got a formal way to work with them.

Sri Lanka on the other hand, I think that that’s a bit of a work in progress. We don’t see – first of all, we’re not digging out of the years of exclusion from the international community that we had seen with the Burmese Government, but we’ve got this notion of three years in a row the trafficking statute that they have, which is a pretty good one – it prohibits all forms of trafficking, which not every SAARC country, not every country in the region has laws that prevent forced labor as well as sex trafficking – and yet three years in a row without any convictions, no services really for male trafficking victims, sex trafficking victims punished, and the folks who come home from overseas, no real way to screen for or help them the way that other source countries like the Indonesians and the Filipinos have.

So I think that there’s a long way to go, but they have this inter-ministerial structure that they have now adopted, and I think that for us both here in Washington and at the Embassy in Colombo it provides us some interlocutors who we hope that we’ll be able to work with going forward.

QUESTION: Just one follow-up on Burma. Do you see this issue of the Rohingyas, is it – does it make them susceptible to trafficking, this kind of stateless status? And how – do you have more – do you see this – do you see it through the light of trafficking, or is it a separate issue?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, I think that we see with any displaced and vulnerable communities that are suffering from social exclusion, and I think that the plight of the Rohingyas has pretty been – has been pretty well documented. That is the type of population in which we often see in this type of situation.

Now, I mean, obviously, we remain concerned about all of the humanitarian issues that are around the Rohingya and other vulnerable ethnic and religious communities. We actually shed some – a little bit of light on this both in the Burma narrative but also, frankly, in the Thai narrative as we’re looking at the exploitation and even alleged sale of Rohingya refugees once they get to their destinations as they’re moving for all these different reasons.

QUESTION: Thanks a lot.

MR. RATHKE: Okay, thank you very much, participants. That’s the end of our question period. Want to thank Ambassador CdeBaca once again and thank you for your questions. A reminder this call is on the record but it is embargoed until the end of the Secretary – Secretary Kerry’s rollout event. Thanks once again, and we’re signing off here.

Press Releases: Interview With Katie Couric of Yahoo! News

QUESTION: Hi, everyone, and welcome to a special Yahoo livestream from the State Department with Secretary of State John Kerry. Secretary Kerry, thank you so much for joining us.

SECRETARY KERRY: Happy to be with you.

QUESTION: We’re going to be talking about the oceans, a subject near and dear to your heart in a moment, but of course, there is a lot going on in Iraq —

SECRETARY KERRY: Absolutely.

QUESTION: — so I need to talk to you about that. The militant group called ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has made considerable gains, as you well know – Mosul, Fallujah, Tikrit, now the northern town of Tal Afar, among others, and parts of Syria. This is the first time we’ve heard you talk extensively about this topic. What is your reaction to all of this?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it’s of enormous concern, obviously, Katie. I mean, this is a challenge to the stability of the region. It is obviously an existential challenge to Iraq itself. This is a terrorist group. It has grown out of, frankly, illicit support that it has received from various places in the region, in the conflict in Syria. But there’s a much larger design at play in their efforts. They want to establish a Sunni caliphate, fundamentally, but they also are trying to redress what happened a number of years ago when the balance flipped in Iraq between Shia and Sunni. So you have people who have a Sunni interest. You have people who have an extreme interest. You have people who have anti-Maliki interest. You have people who have anti-Iran, pro – I mean, there’s a whole lot of forces at play here. And that’s what makes it much more complicated than just a, gee, these are bad guys, and you react.

Clearly, we are deeply committed to the integrity of Iraq as a country. We are deeply committed to the constitutional process, but we’ve also had great difficulties with the existing government in their unwillingness to reach out and be inclusive and bring people to the table and be sufficiently responsible in their pluralistic approach to governance. So that also has contributed to this.

And that’s why you’ve really seen so many of these Sunni communities just melt away, because there is an ambivalence. There’s a huge conflict in their own minds in their dislike of the existing government, but there are also terror and fear at the hands of a terrorist group.

QUESTION: And we’ll dig into that a bit in a moment. But let me ask you this, Mr. Secretary: Do you think ISIS is going to take Baghdad?

SECRETARY KERRY: I don’t believe that they will in the near term, certainly, and I don’t believe they necessarily can at all, but that remains to be determined by the decisions that are made over the course of the next few days. Our decisions, their decisions, the decisions of the larger community, the decisions that Prime Minister Maliki makes, all of these are critical to what’s going to happen.

QUESTION: Again, a more immediate concern: What about the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad? There are reports that some personnel from that Embassy have been moved. How many are still there, and how are they being protected, and how concerned are you?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I’m absolutely convinced that we have the security we need for our Embassy. We watch this every single day. We have had any number of meetings to make evaluations. We don’t discuss the numbers of people, but suffice it to say that there are a large number of contractors who have been doing various things around the country and because of the situation around the country, but clearly they’re not able to be out there safely at this point in time. So we think it is advisable to reduce those numbers, but we’re not doing so with respect to our diplomatic presence or our ability to be able to interact with the Government of Iraq. We’re really quite convinced that we have a security situation that will protect the interests of the United States and our citizens.

QUESTION: Lisa Silva asks us on Twitter to ask you, she said: “Can you ask John Kerry what our strategy will be to help Iraq, if at all?” She said, “I served there in 2004.” To answer her question, I know the President has said he’s reviewing military options. What are those?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I’m not going to go into all of the options, Katie, but I will tell you – let me say this, first of all. We have nothing but the most enormous respect and gratitude for the incredible sacrifices and commitment that our troops made over many years in Iraq. And they fought hard, brilliantly, to give the Iraqis an opportunity to determine their future. I know that for every soldier who was there, watching this is painful, it’s difficult, having committed what they committed and lost what they lost, to see this army melt away the way it did. But this is complicated, and it is not something where the – any number of forces of the United States would have made the difference or are going to make the difference right now. This is about the internal politics and governance of Iraq.

QUESTION: So you don’t think a residual force would have kept this from happening after 2011?

SECRETARY KERRY: Absolutely, unquestionably not, and I’ll tell you why. Because whatever residual force was discussed to be left in Iraq would have been, had the Iraqis accepted the terms by which we leave troops anywhere in the world, which they refused to do, but that force would have been non-combat. It would have been not involved in combat. So it was not a combatant force that was being contemplated. It was train, advise, assist, so forth.

We can still do that, and there are ways for us to do that. But the bottom line is that this is an internal struggle, which has gone on for a long time in Iraq. Shia, Sunni. It’s got overtones of Iraq’s – of Iran’s influence in Iraq. It has very serious implications with respect to other countries encouraging certain kinds of activities, and it’s much more complicated than meets the eye.

QUESTION: It’s been reported that the U.S. has drones flying over Iraq to gather intelligence, but a lot of analysts over the weekend were talking about the fact that airstrikes are not going to be effective because there are members of this organization scattered among the population at large. So what’s your response to airstrikes just aren’t the answer here?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, they’re not the whole answer, but they may well be one of the options that are important to be able to stem the tide and stop the movement of people who are moving around in open convoys, in trucks, and terrorizing people. I mean, when you have people murdering, assassinating in these mass massacres, you have to stop that, and you do what you need to do if you need to try to stop it from the air or otherwise if – Americans obviously feel very powerfully about not putting boots back on the ground in Iraq, so we’ll consider what options are available to us.

But you cannot allow that march, I think. I mean, it’s our basic judgment of most people in the region that you can’t just let them run whole hog over the country for any number of reasons. And so the Iraq – Iraqis themselves, however, are now stepping up, partly because you’ve sort of reach a sectarian line, and to some degree, the elements that have created this fight in the first place are now manifesting themselves in a different way.

My – I would simply say to those people who ask the question now, the President is evaluating a very thorough vetting of every option that is available. A lot of work has been going on over the course of this weekend. We met at length with discussions on Friday, on Saturday; yesterday I was talking to foreign ministers in the region. There’s a lot of work going on right now to make sure that whatever judgments the President ultimately makes have the greatest amount of input and the greatest understanding of what will have the best effect.

QUESTION: I know President Obama has suggested no military aid will come without Prime Minister Maliki instituting reforms reaching out to those Sunnis. But instead there are reports he’s flying in Iranian paramilitary forces, mobilizing Shiite militias, so that does not appear to be happening.

SECRETARY KERRY: I don’t believe that Iranian troops are coming in and crossing the border, but there is obviously a mobilization of some of the militia, no question about it. And that has its dangers, certainly. We are adamant that Prime Minister Maliki and his government must do a better job of reaching out to all of the representative entities in Iraq and bring them to the table. That has not happened sufficiently.

QUESTION: But Secretary Kerry, is it too late? I mean, how does he do that when the country is imploding?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the country just had an election, and there is a legitimate government formation process that is underway. Until this weekend, there was a lot of discussion taking place among all the political players as to what shape that government might take going forward. This event with ISIL has – or ISIS, as people call it, it’s one and the same – has overtaken that government formation process. The question now is: Can you stem the tide, stop it where it is, even roll it back, and give the government the opportunity to take stock of what it needs to do to present the people of Iraq with a comprehensive reform package and the confidence that there will be a different kind of governance. That would appear to me to be the best way forward.

QUESTION: Some are suggesting that Maliki should resign.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, that’s up to the Iraqi people and it’s up to the government formation process. I don’t think the United States should be issuing instructions or orders. I don’t think any country should. But I think we can –

QUESTION: But could that be further destabilizing?

SECRETARY KERRY: –but I think we should work – it depends, not necessarily at all. If there is a clear successor, if the results of the election are respected, if people come together with the cohesiveness necessary to build a legitimate government that puts the reforms in place that people want, that might wind up being very salutatory. I think it’s up to the Iraqi political process to work that.

Now, we clearly can play an encouraging, consultative role in helping them to achieve that transition, and we have people on the ground right now. Our Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk’s been doing an extraordinary job over there. Our Ambassador Steve Beecroft, very, very engaged. We are in touch directly with all of the players, and we are working to determine how we can help them to help themselves.

QUESTION: You – will you reach out to Iran, and how can that country be helpful? Or is that like entering into a hornet’s nest, because that will inflame the Sunnis?

SECRETARY KERRY: We’re open – look, we’re open to discussions if there’s something constructive that can be contributed by Iran if Iran is prepared to do something that is going to respect the integrity and sovereignty of Iraq and the ability of the government to reform —

QUESTION: Can you see cooperating with Iran militarily?

SECRETARY KERRY: I – at this moment, I think we need to go step by step and see what, in fact, might be a reality, but I wouldn’t rule out anything that would be constructive to providing real stability, a respect for the constitution, a respect for the election process, and a respect for the ability of the Iraqi people to form a government that represents all of the interests of Iraq, not one sectarian group over another. It has to be inclusive, and that has been one of the great problems of the last few years.

QUESTION: If Iran recognizes that, would you be willing to work with that country?

SECRETARY KERRY: Let’s see what Iran might or might not be willing to do before we start making any pronouncements. I think we are open to any constructive process here that could minimize the violence, hold Iraq together, the integrity of the country, and eliminate the presence of outside terrorist forces that are ripping it apart.

QUESTION: How far, Mr. Secretary, do you see this whole thing spreading? Beyond Iraq and Syria, perhaps?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it already has, Katie. I mean, this is the great challenge that President Obama spoke about at West Point. This is why the President has been so focused on trying to free up some resources from an over-resourced effort in one location, Afghanistan, and begin to recognize that the tentacles of radical extreme political Islam – radical extreme – not mainstream Islam. I’m talking about a complete exploitation that is taking place in many places – Mali, in the Maghreb, in the Sahel, in the Levant – in clear – in the Near/Middle East.

I mean, all of these things have been happening for some period of time because you have a confluence of events. You have masses of numbers of young people whose aspirations have been quashed in various countries. You have closed economic and political systems that don’t meet their aspirations. You have a rise of this extreme distortion of Islam, a radical terrorism that is intimidating people. And you have in some places people like Assad who are trying to crush all those aspirations at the barrel of a gun. That is a very toxic cocktail. It’s an incredible mix of forces.

And it’s not the United States or anybody. I mean, you – it is a very comprehensive and complicated process to address all of it simultaneously. I think we’re working very, very hard and, frankly, effectively to try to quash the extremism, whether it’s in Yemen or in Egypt or in Libya. There are many places where these terrorist forces are trying to take advantage of these opportunities, and it’s hard to build governance in the middle of that. But we are working at it in every single one of those places step by step, very carefully.

QUESTION: And to that point, Mr. Secretary, there are thousands of these foreign fighters that are congregating in Syria working with groups like ISIS. How concerned are you that these individuals, these disenfranchised young men, if you will, will come back to the United States or elsewhere and wreak havoc?

SECRETARY KERRY: Katie, we are deeply concerned about the numbers of foreign fighters, and the answer is it’s not just the United States that’s concerned. All of our allies are concerned. There are people in Syria today fighting from Australia, from Canada, from the United States, from Britain, from Holland, from France, from Germany. I mean, many countries are seeing jihadist adventurists attracted to this cycle of violence. And there is a threat that they could come back to any one of those countries. Just a week or two ago, there was a Frenchman who came back from Syria who went to Belgium and fired on a synagogue and killed people with obvious training that came from what had happened in Syria.

So everybody’s concerned about it, and not just in Europe. I was in Tunisia. The president of Tunisia told me they had maybe 1,800 people who had gone there from Tunisia, 1,100 who might have been killed, but they still worried about the 800 who might return and engage in those activities at home.

QUESTION: Yesterday, Lindsey Graham said the seeds of 9/11 are being planted all over Iraq and Syria.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, there is no question but that there are people plotting against the United States in different parts of that region.

QUESTION: But what about particularly Iraq and Syria, ISIS?

SECRETARY KERRY: Particularly Iraq and Syria and ISIS, they clearly are focused not just there, but they’re focused on trying to do harm to Europe, to America and other people. And that’s why we believe it is so important for us to be engaged and to be leading an effort to try to deal with this, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

QUESTION: If this turns out to be a civil war in Iraq, why should the U.S. get involved at all?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it’s not —

QUESTION: Why not let the two sides fight it out?

SECRETARY KERRY: The stability of Iraq is critical to everybody. Iraq is a strategic partner in that region and it is vital ultimately to the stability of the region as a whole. No individual, no country, and certainly no country in the region can sit back and allow a terrorist entity to run whole hog over an election, over a constitutional process, and over people who have chosen a government through a legitimate process and allow them to terrorize it simply because they don’t like the outcome or they want something else.

We cannot allow that kind of terror activity to gain the upper hand. I mean, you just can’t – it’s not acceptable. And when you see it combined with massacres where they’re lying people down on the ground and just killing them wantonly, putting them in mass graves and doing this openly and proud of it and advertising it and putting it out on the internet and social media in order to terrorize people and say, “Here we are and here we come,” we cannot allow that.

QUESTION: “And come join us.”

SECRETARY KERRY: And the United States of America, I think, and President Obama believes deeply, has a critical leadership role, and that is exactly why we have spent so much time in the last few days touching so many bases and pulling together a consensus about the action that needs to be taken.

QUESTION: And Secretary Kerry, I know we’re here to talk about the Ocean Conference, as I said, but one last question on this: Over the weekend —

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we haven’t talked about the Ocean Conference right here.

QUESTION: I know. We’re – no, one last question about Iraq.

SECRETARY KERRY: Okay.

QUESTION: You reached out to foreign ministers from other Gulf nations. What could those coalitions do to intervene here? Because there are also reports that ISIS has been funded by countries like Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

SECRETARY KERRY: We’re very, very concerned about exactly that reality. There clearly are divergent interests at play, here, Katie. In the end, the United States of America is going to have to do what President Obama judges is in the interests of the United States of America and protect our citizens and our interests. And if there’s a divergence with some other people in the region, so be it.

The bottom line is that this terrorist entity cannot be allowed to run roughshod over the expressed desires of the people of Iraq in an election, no matter how bad the government may or may not have been. And the government formation process is exactly the place and the means by which one works through those differences – not a group coming from Syria into Iraq and terrorizing the population on a sectarian basis. That is not acceptable and I do not believe the President is going to just sit by and allow that to take place.

QUESTION: You are, as we mentioned, kicking off a two-day summit on the world’s oceans here at the State Department. Secretary Kerry, did you give any thought to canceling this given what’s going on in Iraq?

SECRETARY KERRY: Absolutely not. We do so many things at the same time, Katie, that we can’t operate that way. The fact is that this conference has been planned for over a year now, and it is a vital national security issue for the United States. What is happening to our oceans with respect to the combination of acidification from climate change, from emissions all around the world, what’s happening to an ecosystem that provides food for billions of people – not millions, billions of people. This is vital to food security, it’s vital to stability, it’s vital to security, it’s vital to livelihoods for people.

It’s also the lifeline for life itself on earth. I mean, the oceans are critical to life on the planet. And so this is a very, very important conference. There are 80 nations represented here, heads of state, foreign ministers, prime minister – Prince Albert of Monaco is here, he will give one of the keynote speeches – people who have been leaders on this issue for a period of time. And there will be an action agenda that comes out of it. But I obviously will simultaneously be talking to my colleagues in the Middle East and elsewhere. And as we continue to work on Iraq and as we continue to work the negotiations with Iran and as we continue to deal with the Middle East and as we continue to deal with Afghanistan and North Korea and the host of other issues —

QUESTION: The three kidnapped teenagers.

SECRETARY KERRY: — the three kidnapped teenagers, we are engaged in all of that. I talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu at the beginning of the weekend. I talked to President Abbas. We are encouraging both to work together cooperatively, stressing the importance of this.

But the bottom is this, Katie: We can’t stop one thing when something else happens here. The State Department deals with a world that is complicated today, and we need to do all of these things simultaneously.

QUESTION: You talk about an action agenda. What are you – what is the most pressing issue you hope to tackle as a result of this conference?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we want a very specific agenda to get adopted that we can take to the United Nations, that we can all agree on to work internationally that will involve regulating and coordinating on fisheries that are overfished – too much money chasing too few fish. We will also focus on acidification and climate change and the steps that we can take to try to deal with wholesale changes to the ecosystem. We will also deal with pollution and how countries can take steps to reduce what goes into the water. There are over 500 dead spots, dead zones around the oceans of the world where nothing lives, nothing grows because of what flows —

QUESTION: And 90 percent of the trash is plastic, too.

SECRETARY KERRY: And plastic floats around and fish imbibe it, birds, so forth. There’s a huge level of global destruction taking place – there’s no other way to phrase it – at the hands of human activity. And what we need to do is raise the awareness of this and get people around the world to engage. And our hope is that out of this conference – and it won’t be the last one – but we need to come together around a specific agenda so it’s not just talking, it’s not just meeting, but it’s a specific set of steps people can take to change what is happening.

QUESTION: Because is it hard to galvanize the political will to actually get something done in this area?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it’s really interesting. We were talking a moment ago about the changes in the media, and here we are doing a Yahoo livestream. People get their news in so many different ways nowadays. It’s much harder to reach people because of this breadth of – the broad diversity of choice people have as to where they go, so you have to go everywhere, and all the time in order to build the – a movement and consensus. And yes, it is harder, but we’re convinced this is a compelling issue that will touch the imagination of people all around the world.

QUESTION: Well, you have a very, very busy day ahead.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you.

QUESTION: Secretary of State John Kerry, thanks so much for your time, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY KERRY: A pleasure, good to be with you. Thank you.

QUESTION: Really appreciate it. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: My pleasure. Thank you very much.

 

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