Former European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has assured industry leaders: “We can be confident about Europe.”
Barroso told the WTTC Summit in Madrid yesterday that Europe has embarked on sustainable growth, the crisis in Greece would be contained and a UK referendum would produce a vote to remain in the EU.
The former EC president acknowledged the post-2008 crisis was “the biggest since the integration of Europe”. But he said: “Europe has demonstrated its resilience.”
Barroso said: “I like that word, resilience. It is used in physics for a material which returns to its original form and in psychology to overcome a trauma. I really believe Europe today is in post-traumatic recovery.”
He insisted: “The euro-zone economies are going to grow 2% this year. You may say that is too small, but it is sustainable. Before we had growth that was unsustainable, driven by high levels of debt.
“Confidence is coming back. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Europe is recovering and it will be able to create jobs.”
Barroso acknowledged: “There are risks – internal political risks and geopolitical risks.” But he said: “I believe the EU is going to overcome extremist forces from right and left.”
Of Greece, he said: “The risk today is much less than before. The contagion risks are much less. The impact on the financial sector would not be as before.”
Asked about a possible UK referendum on whether to remain in the European Union, Barosso said: “I believe wisdom will prevail in Britain.
“There will be a political fight, but the forces of integration are stronger than the forces of fragmentation.”
Barroso told the Summit: “You are in one of the most beautiful sectors of the economy. People of all social stratas are able to visit others and we should cherish that.
“People tend to idealise the past. But only very wealthy people could discover other countries in the past. That is great progress.”
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