September 11, 2013 - 15:46 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The head of the European Union's executive has warned that the bloc must not ease off on reform as growth edges back to the economy, according to BBC News.
In his annual state of the union address, Jose Manuel Barroso said there was "no way back to business as usual".
"The recovery is within sight," he said, but warned it was fragile and that political leaders must "keep up our efforts".
He urged the eurozone to press ahead with the creation of a banking union.
Barroso, president of the European Commission, said the union must complete the project to "make sure that taxpayers are no longer in the front line to pay" when banks failed.
The European Parliament is expected to vote on Thursday, Sept 12 this week on legislation establishing the first pillar of the banking union - oversight of the eurozone's biggest banks by the European Central Bank.
However, other elements of the banking union are proving harder to establish because of opposition by some governments.
Speaking in Strasbourg, Barroso said all the EU's economic efforts must be focused on growth, because that was necessary to remedy "today's most pressing problem: unemployment".
He said the level of unemployment - 26 million people across the union - was "economically unsustainable, politically untenable, socially unacceptable".
On Syria, he said "a strong response" was needed to the use of chemical weapons, and called the proposal for Syria to hand over its stockpiles "potentially a positive development".
He also criticized Russia for putting pressure on former Soviet states to reject the European Union and align with Moscow instead.
"Today, countries like Ukraine are more than ever seeking closer ties to the European Union, attracted by our economic and social model. We cannot turn our back on them. We cannot accept any attempt to limit these countries' own sovereign choices," Barroso said.
According to Reuters, the EU's enlargement chief Stefan Fule was set to reinforce Barroso's criticism.
"Any threats from Russia linked to the possible signing of agreements with the European Union are unacceptable," Fule was expected to say in his speech to the parliament.
He will warn against any "misuse of energy pricing" in an apparent reference to Russia's threats to cut gas supplies in Ukraine and Moldova as winter approaches, or to promise much cheaper gas to coax Kyiv into a Russian customs union.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt last week called the threats "economic warfare".
During a Sept 3 meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, President Sargsyan said Armenia is ready to join Customs Union, with further plans to be involved in formation of Eurasian Economic Union, thus arousing indignation of European officials.
However, later the European Commission said that the Association Agreement (including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area) with Armenia can be compatible with economic cooperation with the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States.