Welcome! I would say it is a good moment, at the beginning of the year, for us to share our views with you, and for you to share with us the Commission's priorities and the Commission's needs in terms of the advice we can give.
The critical situation we are in is more than about economic aspects, it is about social, political and confidence. I feel to say it again and again that we need structural reforms with long-term effect. We look at this from a non-political perspective, from the civil society perspective. We think that austerity measures are necessary, but it is more than about budget and discipline. The management of economic policy in the euro area and in the EU also needs to be more comprehensive and ambitious.
We have to couple austerity measures with strong measures dedicated to stimulate growth and jobs, to re- launch the economy. Investments and a real Single Market for SMEs are keys there. And for that we need a strong budget.