I’m delighted now to have the opportunity introduce the first award of the evening presented to President José Manuel Barroso for his distinguished international leadership.
But first who better to proceed me with a few remarks of her own than one of President Barroso’s closest collaborators in furthering the European project, Chancellor Angela Merkel. Now, Chancellor Merkel couldn’t be here this evening, but sent us a special video message to help us honor her esteemed colleague. So, please, turn your attention to the screen.
Now, I’m honored to follow Chancellor Merkel’s words about President Barroso with just a few of my own. In his most recent state of the union address President Barroso made this simple yet incredibly point that now is the time for all those who care about Europe to speak up for Europe.
President Barroso, I think that this gathering tonight proves that at least 800 other people would agree with your sentiment as that is the precise reason that we are gathered here. Tonight the Atlantic Council honors President Barroso’s dedication to the cause of European integration and his unwavering commitment to ensuring that all of Europe can know stability, prosperity and democracy.
His presidency began a decade ago, the same year that the European Union undertook its greatest expansion to include ten new member states. Under his leadership the Union has enlarged two more times, helping to anchor the Balkans within the Union.
Confronted with the unprecedented challenges of the Eurozone Crisis, President Barroso’s leadership and crisis management, in often uncharted territory for political leaders and economists alike, more than lived up to his second family name, Durão, which means “very tough.” But even in the midst of economic and political crisis he did not lose sight of the ultimate purpose of the European Union: To advance the causes of peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe and around the world, a purpose that was recognized with a Nobel Peace Prize in 2012.
President Barroso has defined himself a– as a leader who gets things done and does so by bringing others together. While some have argued that 28 countries and 28 commissioners are too many to manage, he has proven them wrong. Working together with all member states to ensure that a post-Berlin Wall European Union would work effectively to the benefit of every member regardless of their dimension, economic weight or geographic location.
Throughout his highly accomplished political career, including posts as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Portugal, he has tirelessly worked to push policy that would bring stability and prosperity to Europe and its partners. His skillful leadership has consistently proven an invaluable partner to the United States.
Together with leaders of both political parties in America he has propelled historic trade negotiations that could change the global economic landscape for generations to come. So, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in applauding President Barroso for his commitment to standing up for Europe and its partnership with the United States. (APPLAUSE AND MUSIC)