- Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, says Europe's leaders must act decisively on debt crisis
- He says the forces of integration in Europe will outweigh any problems of fragmentation
- Barroso says "no one wants to replace Europe and European Union as a project"
Europe's leaders must act quickly and collectively to confront the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis -- or risk the bloc's fragmentation, according to Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission.
Barroso said the forces of integration in Europe would outweigh any problems of fragmentation. However, he added, "the message I've been consistently conveying to the leaders of the governments of Europe: 'put your act together, we need to do more together, and it's urgent that we do it now."
The eurozone has been embroiled in a sovereign debt crisis for 18 months, as the bloc's troubled economies face rising funding costs and are forced to take bailouts from their peers and the International Monetary Fund. The use of a common currency is frequently cited as an issue for the bloc, as it shackles the stronger countries to the weak.
But Barroso said that problems have arisen not from any incurable flaws in the concept of the European single market or currency. He cites a dearth of processes and institutions designed to deal with the global financial crisis.
"To some extent it's a process of learning, let's face it, this is the first time we've had such a crisis," he said. "We have the common currency but not with all the instruments to assume the responsibilities of the current currency."
He added, "we were missing some of the elements to make it credible, and we are now putting them in place. We are creating funds, one of €440 billion -- it's a lot of money." Europe's leaders are also "in the process of learning, of adjusting," he said.
Securing political and economic consensus among a grouping of such economically and culturally diverse independent countries has so far proven challenging, Barroso said. But he is confident member states will eventually pull together to find a common solution for the good of Europe. "No one wants to replace Europe and European Union as a project," he says.
"I am fully confident that we are going to overcome this because Europe is -- with all its problems -- probably one of the best places in the world to be," he said.