Tag Archives: Eurogroup

Paschal Donohoe new Eurogroup president

The Eurogroup today elected Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform of Ireland, as President of the Eurogroup, in line with Protocol 14 of the EU treaties.

The new President will take office as of 13 July 2020 and will serve a two and a half year term.

The first Eurogroup meeting under Paschal Donohoe’s presidency is currently planned for 11 September 2020.

Paschal Donohoe was appointed Minister for Finance of Ireland in June 2017.

The Eurogroup is an informal body where ministers of euro area member states discuss matters of common concern in relation to sharing the euro as the single currency. It focuses in particular on the coordination of economic policies. It usually meets once a month, on the eve of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting.

Gentiloni: EU faces unprecedented shock

“..Indeed, we are facing a shock without precedent since the Great Depression. Its economic and social consequences pose policy challenges unlike any we have seen in our lifetimes.
The inflation rate is further evidence of this. Data released this morning shows the inflation rate at just 0.3%. In April last year, it was 1.7%.
This is the first time that I present our country-specific recommendations, but it is in fact the tenth set of recommendations that the Commission has presented” Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said, addressing Brussels press corps on May 20

“The first time was in 2011, when Europe was in in the depths of a very different crisis – in the aftermath of the Great Recession – to the one we face today.
And because, as they say, this time it’s different, so are the recommendations we present today. They are different. They come one week before the recovery plan and these are strictly linked steps.

Our recommendations present, first and foremost, the immediate challenges we are confronted with as a direct result of the pandemic: strengthening our healthcare systems; supporting our workers; and saving our companies.

At the same time, the sustainability and competitiveness challenges we faced before the crisis have not gone away.
Our climate is still suffering, our environment is still hurting. People in cities around the world have experienced clear skies and clean air, in many cases for the first time in their lives – but we know that this is just a pleasant side-effect of a dreadful, yet temporary situation.
If millions of people have been able to carry on working while locked down, including the staff of the Commission, it is a reminder of the huge task Europe faces to be competitive in the digital age.

So as we look to the future, our investment and reform objectives must remain focused on making a success of the green and digital transitions, as well as on social sustainability. I think it is very important that we are speaking today after having adopted the SURE instrument. The Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations are and must remain our compass.

Let me now make four specific points.
First, in terms of fiscal policy, our message is crystal clear: there needs to be a supportive fiscal stance in all Member States and we recommend that all Member States “take all necessary measures to effectively address the pandemic, sustain the economy and support the ensuing recovery”.
When it comes to the question of excessive deficit procedures, our conclusion – which is that “at this juncture a decision on whether to place Member States under EDP should not be taken” – is fully coherent with the decision taken two months ago to activate the general escape clause.

Finally, we underline that public expenditure and investment are important to support the green and digital transition. Once fiscal policy normalises, it will be vital to avoid making the mistakes of the past: in the fiscal consolidation of ten years ago, investment was the first victim. To repeat this approach would be to sacrifice our long-term priorities.

Second, the fight against Aggressive Tax Planning again features in our recommendations and I must say this is an even clearer priority this in the past. All Member States, especially in the recovery situation, must be able to rely on their fair share of tax revenues to implement the fiscal support needed to get through this crisis.

Third, our European Union is also a Union in which the rule of law is of paramount importance. Also on economic grounds. When the rule of law is questioned, it impacts on the business environment and investment climate. Our recommendations this year also clearly highlight this issue.

We have also adopted today the latest enhanced surveillance report for Greece.

The report concludes that, considering the extraordinary circumstances posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the country has taken the necessary actions to deliver on its specific reform commitments.
I expect this report to pave the way for a positive decision by the Eurogroup on the next tranche of debt relief measures worth €748 million.

We also adopted streamlined post-programme reports for Spain and Cyprus.
In conclusion, before passing the floor to Nicolas. I have mentioned the Great Depression and the Great Recession. We must ensure that this crisis will not be remembered as the Great Fragmentation, in which a symmetric shock leads to asymmetric outcomes for countries, sectors, regions, individuals and generations.
This is why we need to help individuals and companies absorb the shock. We need to repair the shortfall in investment and equity. And we need to transform our economies, with a new growth model embracing the green and digital transition.

In a nutshell, we need a well-funded recovery plan. We will present it next week”.

EUCO: anti-COVID19 plan

The 27 EU leaders decided to offer the eurozone finance ministers two weeks to find a common economic response to the coronavirus crisis, European diplomats said. After more than six hours of discussion by video-conference, the heads of state and government of the 27 EU countries have reached agreement on a draft joint declaration to tackle the crisis caused by the coronavirus.

“We take note of the progress made by the Eurogroup. At this stage, we invite the Eurogroup to present proposals to us within two weeks. These proposals should take into account the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 shock affecting all our countries and our response will be stepped up, as necessary, with further action in an inclusive way, in light of developments, in order to deliver a comprehensive response” the declaration reads.

“The COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an unprecedented challenge for Europe and the whole world. It requires urgent, decisive, and comprehensive action at the EU, national, regional and local levels. We will do everything that is necessary to protect our citizens and overcome the crisis, while preserving our European values and way of life.

“We recognise the burden these measures put on all our citizens and praise their sense of responsibility. We express our deepest sympathy with the victims of the pandemic and their families. We commend the dedication and tireless efforts of the healthcare professionals at the forefront of the outbreak and the contribution of those who provide essential services to the population.

“We will cooperate with the international community and our external partners in combating the global pandemic.

“We will continue to work along the five strands defined at our videoconferences on 10 and 17 March 2020 and do what is necessary to overcome the crisis.”

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte did not accept the draft conclusion at a video conference Summit of EU27 to find a common economic response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Italian government sources. Italy wants the European Union to acquire “innovative financial instruments that are truly adapted to war”, according to the Italian agency Agi, which quotes the entourage of the Prime Minister. In this response to the economic catastrophe that threatens the EU, the proponents of greater financial solidarity, the countries of the south, less virtuous in budgetary matters, and those of the north, confront each other.

#COVID19: Eurogroup rapid response

Today Eurogroup welcomed all the measures taken by Member States and by the European Commission, in particular those taken to ensure that health systems and civil protection systems are adequately provided for to contain and treat the disease, preserve the wellbeing of our citizens and help firms and workers that are particularly affected.

“Facing these exceptional circumstances, we agreed that an immediate, ambitious and co-ordinated policy response is needed. We have decided to act and will respond swiftly and flexibly to developments as they unfold. We will make use of all instruments necessary to limit the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak. We have therefore put together a first set of national and European measures while setting a framework for further actions to respond to developments and to support the economic recovery. Preliminary estimates of the European Commission show that total fiscal support to the economy will be very sizeable. We have, so far, decided fiscal measures of about 1% of GDP, on average, for 2020 to support the economy, in addition to the impact of automatic stabilisers, which should work fully. We have, so far, committed to provide liquidity facilities of at least 10% of GDP, consisting of public guarantee schemes and deferred tax payments. These figures could be much larger going forward” reads the statement of the Eurogroup.

Coordinated efforts at the European level will supplement national measures:
We welcome the Commission’s proposal for a €37 billion “
Corona Response Investment Initiative” directed at health care systems, SMEs, labour markets and other vulnerable parts of our economies, and to make a further €28 billion of structural funds fully eligible for meeting these expenditures. We agreed on the need to implement the necessary legislative changes as quickly as possible” the Eurogroup underlined in the statement.

“We welcome the initiative of the Commission and the EIB Group to mobilise up to €8 billion of working capital lending for 100,000 European firms, backed by the EU budget, by enhancing programmes for guaranteeing bank credits to SMEs. We also support the ongoing efforts of the Commission and the EIB Group to increase this amount up to €20 billion, which would reach a further 150,000 firms. We also welcome the ongoing work to make further funds available as swiftly as possible and to enhance the flexibility of the financial instruments leveraged;
We welcome the initiative of the EIB Group to catalyse €10 billion in additional investments in SMEs and midcaps for their own account and to accelerate the deployment of another €10 billion backed by the EU budget;
We invite the EIB to further enhance and accelerate the impact of the available resources, including through enhanced collaboration with the National Development Banks;
We also welcomed the package of monetary policy measures taken by the ECB last week aimed at supporting liquidity and funding conditions for households, businesses and banks, help the smooth provision of credit to the real economy, and avoid fragmentation of euro area financial markets in order to preserve the smooth transmission of monetary policy”.

Image: Mario Centeno, president of Eurogroup video conference.

Schaeuble questions ‘significant change’ in Greek bailout plan

The German parliament’s budget committee must decide if the bailout plan for Greece agreed by euro zone finance ministers and the IMF on June, 15 evening is up to the level of a significant change to the existing program, Germany’s finance minister said.

In an interview with ARD television on June 15 (15.06.2017) , Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the IMF had agreed to launch a loan program for Greece – a condition set by the German parliament to support a further bailout – but that the international lender would pay out only later.

Greece awaiting debt relif

Debt relief for Greece will be looked into at the next Eurogroup meeting on 22 May, according to Jeroen Dijsselbloem. The president of the informal body of the eurozone’s finance ministers made the announcement during a plenary debate in Parliament on 27 April. He also apologised to MEPs about recent remarks that proved controversial.

Dijsselbloem attended a plenary debate on the second review of the economic adjustment programme for the country. The Eurogroup president said debt relief was a possibility: “Last year we gave that commitment to come back to this issue of [debt] sustainability for Greece because that’s the only way they will come back on a sustainable path and a sustainable economic future.”

Economics commissioner Pierre Moscovici, who also took part in the debate, added:  “The Commission will continue to support efforts to make Greek debt more sustainable. We believe it’s necessary and possible.”

Greece is currently in the middle of its third bailout programme since the financial crisis. On 2 May, Greece reached a preliminary technical agreement with its creditors, which means the country is set to have the next tranche of funding approved in time for its next debt repayments of €6 billion in July.

Greece’s primary budget surplus, an important indicator of the country’s public finances, increased to 3.9% last year, beating all the creditors’ targets, according to data from Eltat , the national statistics service.

During the debate in plenary Roberto Gualtieri, an Italian member of the S&D group, said the news about the primary surplus for 2016 showed that the Greek economy was at a turning point and urged the next Eurogroup meeting to formally conclude the current review and address debt relief.

Ska Keller, the German chairs of the Greens/EFA group,  said that now that Athens had delivered, it was time for the Eurogroup to do its part and give Greece its debt relief.

Two Greek MEPs – ECR member Notis Marias GUE/NGL member Dimitrios Papadimoulis – both highlighted the current devastating state of the Greek economy with Marias calling it a “social cemetery”.

Apart from the economic situation in Greece, MEPs addressed recent controversial statements by Dijsselbloem  in an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in which he was quoted as saying about southern European countries: “You cannot spend all the money on drinks and women and then ask for help.”

“I really regret the comments you made recently on southern countries because the social distress that many of our citizens are suffering deserves more than that,” – Françoise Grossetête, a French member of the EPP group, said.

“Many members of the Parliament have been very critical about my remarks, and of course I fully accept that. The choice of words has been unfortunate and people have been offended and I regret that,” – Dijsselbloem replied.

Greece reached a deal with creditros

“There was white smoke,” Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said to reporters, hinting on the elections of the Pope. The negotiations for a technical deal were concluded on all issues, and the way has now been paved for debt relief talks, he added.

Greece and its foreign creditors reached a deal on a package of bailout-mandated reforms, Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said, paving the way for the disbursement of further rescue funds.

Talks on the deal,  including and  labor and energy reforms,  also pension cuts and tax rises, had lasted for half a year mainly due to a argument between the European Union and the International Monetary Fund over fiscal targets.

Greece now needs to legislate the new measures before euro zone finance ministers approve the disbursement of loans, money Athens needs to repay 7.5 billion euros in debt before July. PHOTO: illustration

The next scheduled Eurogroup meeting is on May 22. The reduction of Greece’s debt much awaited by general public will also be discussed.

Dijsselbloem explains his allegory

The chairman of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem did not criticize any particular country or region, his spokesman said after Dijsselbloem’s remarks, seen as negative toward southern Europe, sparked calls for his resignation.

Dijsselbloem said  to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper in an interview published on March 20 that northern European countries showed solidarity with countries in crisis during the sovereign debt crisis started in 2010 by Greece.

“As a Social Democrat, I believe solidarity is extremely important. But whoever demands it, also has obligations. I can’t spend all my money on booze and women and then ask you for your support. This principle holds at personal, local, national and even European levels,” he told the paper.

The remarks drew sharp criticism in Spain and Italy and the Portuguese prime minister called for Dijsselbloem’s resignation, saying his remarks were “racist, xenophobic and sexist”.

Greece Minister stays in Brussels

 

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said on Monday he planned to stay in Brussels for further consultations with the country’s creditors towards finalizing a bailout review.

Greece and its international lenders are still at odds over pension, labor and energy market reforms, necessary before new loans can be disbursed to Athens.

Tsakalotos said ‘most issues’ had been resolved, and that he hoped for a preliminary deal by April 7, when euro zone finance ministers are scheduled to meet in Malta.

 “Our intention is to stay here, to achieve significant progress and leave very few issues (unresolved) …so if the institutions return to Athens, to have an agreement on a package of measures,” Tsakalotos told journalists.

Eurogroup awaitng Greek reforms

Today Greece and its euro zone creditors are still at odds over reforms required before new loans can be disbursed to Athens, the head of euro zone finance ministers said after an inconclusive meeting in Brussels.

“Some key issues” still remain to be sorted out, Jeroen Dijsselbloem told a news conference after the meeting.

“The outcome of today’s meeting is that we have agreed talks will continue and will intensify in coming days in Brussels,” Dijsselbloem said, giving no date for a possible deal.

https://twitter.com/DavidJo52951945/status/843863235438755840

The next regular meeting of euro zone finance ministers is on April 7, he added: “But there is no promise all the work will be done by then.”

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