UNITED NATIONS - The head of the European Union Commission has told the UN General Assembly he is "fully confident" the 17 countries using the euro and all European institutions will do whatever is necessary to overcome the current financial crisis.
Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says that despite all the difficulties, he is bringing the 193-member world body "a message of confidence" that the European Union is "on the right track".
"We are doing a root-and-branch reform of our budgetary and economic policies," he said. "And, beyond the so-called 'sound and fury', we are making good progress in laying firm foundations for strong economic recovery and sustainable growth."
In a keynote speech yesterday at the opening of a two-day high-level meeting on the state of the world economy, Barroso said Europe's key concern ù like most of the world - is economic growth, "but not growth driven by unsustainable borrowing".
"In Europe," he said, "it is quite clear that for growth to come back to more important levels and to restore confidence, we need fiscal consolidation, structural reform and targeted investment."
In prepared remarks released by his office in advance of his speech, Barroso reaffirmed that the EU wants Greece to stay in the euro zone. "And the European Union will do all it takes to ensure it ... and we expect the Greek government ù current and future ù to fulfil the jointly agreed conditions for financial assistance," he said. But in the speech he delivered to presidents, ministers and diplomats from many nations, Barroso dropped all references to Greece or its international bailout deal, under which it agreed to strict austerity measures in return for billions of euros in rescue loans.
Instead, he focused on the EU's "robust response" to the crisis over the past two years in repairing its banking system, strengthening economic governance, setting up financial firewalls "and providing unprecedented solidarity to member states more exposed to the crisis".