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European round-up

Logo of the Austrian EU presidency © European Communities

January 2006 | Issue 1
The Austrian and Finnish Presidencies

For 2006 -

Austria takes on the Presidency of the European Council for the first six months of 2006, followed by Finland from 1 July 2006. For the ECOFIN Council the two Presidencies have outlined their main priorities in 2006. These aim to enhance European economic policy strategy in several areas and thus boost economic growth and employment. Actions to ensure stability-oriented fiscal policies and speed up economic and structural reforms are high on the agenda.
View of the meeting room of the ECOFIN Council
© EU Council

January 2006 | Issue 1
ECOFIN meets: reforming agenda

6 December 2005 - The monthly Economics and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) is composed of economics and finance ministers from the Member States and Commission representatives. The earlier November ECOFIN Council rapped Hungary for not taking earlier advice on putting its public finances in order to meet the 3% GDP budget deficit limit that EMU requires. In December, the Council considered economic reforms, Lisbon national reform programmes and regulatory reforms. In addition, Commissioner McCreevy presented his strategy for banks and financial services.

G7 countries' flags

January 2006 | Issue 1
G7 meets in London

2-3 December 2005 -

G7 meetings of Finance Ministers and Central Bank governors are a subset of the G8 summits, which bring together the major industrialised democracies. At the G7 meeting in London, Commissioner Almunia spoke at sessions on development and combating the financing of terrorism. Further, in a meeting on the Middle East peace process he highlighted the current and future role of the Commission and the EIB in providing humanitarian aid and infrastructure investment within the context of the Quartet roadmap for peace in the region.
Worker in a car-production chain
© European Communities

January 2006 | Issue 1
Eastern promise for businesses

14 November 2005 - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development highlights the improving business conditions across central and eastern Europe and the former Soviet bloc in its latest Transition Report. With economic growth at 5.3% in 2005, the area is outperforming many other regions of the world. However, warns the report, the remaining obstacles hit hardest those firms that are most likely to generate new jobs and growth. The tangibility of the improvements is seen in the rapid expansion of bank credit to the private sector – a confirmation of growing confidence in the future.

Signed document

January 2006 | Issue 1
Can businesses get the bank loans they want?

October 2005 -

A recent Eurobarometer survey asked over 3 000 SME business managers whether they could get bank loans when they needed them. An important issue, considering that, overall, SMEs are by far the largest business employers in the EU and thus a lot depends on their economic success. The survey shows that better-adapted social and fiscal regulations and better-qualified staff are the main concerns of SME managers. However, bank finance remains important as more than half of the respondents rely on it to complete projects. The survey reveals an equal split between 46% who find bank loans easy to obtain versus 47% who judge it difficult.
Commissioner Verheugen
© EIB

January 2006 | Issue 1
The 2005 EIB Forum in Helsinki

27 October 2005 - ‘The Lisbon Strategy – closing the gap’ was the title of the annual forum of the European Investment Bank held in the Finnish capital. The EIB is taking on an increasing role in funding European R&D in addition to its traditional lending for infrastructure, which was reflected in the forum presentations. EIB President Phillipe Maystadt opened the forum and stressed the need for better organisation and microeconomic reforms, in addition to financial resources, if Europe is to become more innovative. Enterprise and Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen gave a keynote speech on the new Lisbon partnership for jobs and growth and the innovation challenge facing Europe.

Economic chart © José Luis Gutiérrez

January 2006 | Issue 1
Euroframe: forecasting and taxing matters

6 October 2005 -

The Euroframe - European Forecasting Network (EFN) combines the expertise of economic and econometric research institutions from various Member States to produce biannual reports covering economic forecasts and policy issues. The latest report provides forecasts for euro area key indicators, such as inflation and GDP up to 2007, and includes a special section on the future of corporate taxation in the EU.
 
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