Economic and Financial Affairs Council, 3062nd meeting: extracts from the press conference by György Matolcsy, Hungarian Minister for Economy, Olli Rehn and Michel Barnier
Type: Summary of press conference
End production: 18/01/2011 First transmission: 18/01/2011
On 18/01/2011 in Brussels, György Matolcsy, Hungarian Minister for Economy, chaired the 3062nd meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council, in the presence of Olli Rehn, Member of the EC in charge of Economic and Monetary Affairs, and Michel Barnier. Member of the EC in charge of Internal Market and Services. They gave a joint press conference after the meeting.
The Council kicked off the 2011 "European Semester", examining the Commission's annual growth survey, and drawing lessons from an assessment of the Member States' draft national reform programmes. The "European Semester" was implemented for the first time this year as part of a reform of EU economic governance; it was aimed at ensuring better-coordinated and more effective policies for putting Europe's economy on a path to sustainable growth.
The Council also discussed the follow-up to the December European Council as regards the strengthening of EU economic governance, and the establishment of a new mechanism to ensure the stability of the euro area.
Economic governance was cited as a key priority by the Hungarian presidency, which presented its work programme to the Council. The presidency stated its goal of reaching agreement on six legislative proposals on economic governance by the end of March.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||General views of the press conference room (2 shots)
||SOUNDBITE (in HUNGARIAN) by György Matolcsy, Hungarian Minister for Economy and President in office of the Council, saying that there was a common understanding (today) amongst EcoFin members that the European Semester governance and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) should be tackled and completed during the first half of 2011.
||Cutaways of press (2 shots)
||SOUNDBITE (in ENGLISH) by Olli Rehn, Member of the EC in charge of Economic and Monetary Affairs: the EFSF (European Financial Stability Fund) effective lending capacity needs to be reinforced and its scope of activities widened. I would not link this decision necessarily to the forthcoming decisions concerning the permanent European Stability Mechanism. But of course, we have to see the reinforcement of the EFSF as a prelude for the creation of the permanent ESM, which is due at the March European Council. To my mind, it is important that we realise that we still have a continued crisis in the sovereign debt markets. We have had some respite in the last couple of days, but we cannot afford any kind of self-complaisance in this situation, but instead we need to act as soon as possible in order to agree on the reinforcement of the EFSF as part of the comprehensive package. In that regard, yesterday's meeting of the Eurogroup was encouraging. It is working progress and progress is being made towards these objectives.
||Cutaways of press (2 shots)
||SOUNDBITE (in FRENCH) by Michel Barnier, Member of the EC in charge of Internal Market and Services, saying that banks in Europe would be well-inspired if they do not lose sight of the economy and society, the banks and their shareholders. Banks have an obligation of responsibility. The EU will be strengthening this responsibility of shareholders when it looks at measures concerning governance. They have to act in a responsible and moderate fashion and their key motto should be to strengthen their position. The European Commission will be keeping a very close eye on the implementation of the current rules. Requirements will be applied very rigorously and seriously.
||Cutaway of the audience