(Sir Europe – Strasbourg) – "By February 2015, I will devise a programme for growth, investment and jobs that will mobilise 300 billion euros in public and private investment in three years". Jean-Claude Juncker detailed some of his proposals in his address to the European Parliament today. He has to convince at least 376 out of 751 MEPs to vote for him to become the next president of the European Commission after José Manuel Barroso, whose mandate expires on 31 October. According to him, the focus of investment should be on energy networks, renewable energy ("this is not only a priority for environmentalists, but a precondition for sustainable growth"), broadband, transport infrastructure, support to the industrial sector, particularly SMEs, research, and on the Youth Guarantee Scheme, which "should be extended to the age of 30" (now it is 25). Then he explained: "We will not call for a modification of the Stability and Growth Pact. The stability" of public finances is "a long-term obligation". However, we can make "the best possible use of the flexibility that is built into the existing rules of the Pact to return to growth". Then he insisted on the "social impact" of the decisions and reforms made by the EU that should be implemented in the EU Member States. "The crisis is not over – he said – as long as there are millions of people unemployed". Work, then, will be a top priority for the Commission. 

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