President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso warned on Wednesday that political instability is the biggest risk to Europe's future. He attacked his Eurosceptic critics and called for a stronger European Union. Addressing the European Parliament in what most likely will be his last 'State of the Union' speech, Barroso urged EU leaders to continue implementing reforms, as the bloc slowly leans towards economic recovery.
"In the debate that is ongoing all across Europe, the bottom-line question is: Do we want to improve Europe, or give it up? My answer is clear: let's engage! If you don't like Europe as it is: improve it! Find ways to make it stronger, internally and internationally, and you will have in me the firmest of supporters. Find ways that allow for diversity without creating discriminations, and I will be with you all the way. But don't turn away from it." "I believe a political Union must be our political horizon as I stressed last year in the State of the Union .This is not just a demand of a passionate European, this is an indispensable way forward to consolidate our progress and ensure the future." said EC's president Jose Manuel Barroso.
Barroso devoted part of his speech to defend the Union's answer to the crisis, as more and more citizens across Europe blame Brussels for their national economic problems. He argued that the austerity measures taken in debt-ridden countries are now starting to have a positive effect. But MEPs warned that the crisis is not over yet.
"We have given a whole bunch, a whole range of early signs of recovery, but I think we have to make a realistic assessment, a realistic analysis of the situation. This first signs of recovery are more the proof of the fact that we hit the bottom of the recession, the bottom of the recession and that means that we enter in what I call a second phase of this crisis. I think it is far too easy only to see the negative points as has been done a few minutes ago, I think it is also not fair only to see the positive sides and say OK, it is over now, we are going up again, that it is not true, what we in fact see is a second phase in this crisis," said ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt.
After 9 years in office as head of the EU's executive, this is Barroso's 4th 'State of the Union' address in Strasbourg.