Today's political agreement removes the uncertainty that has been hanging over Greece for too long, holding back confidence, investment and growth. For the eurozone this was a real test of our credibility, of our ability to take decisions on the most challenging of issues. And it was a test that we could simply not afford to fail. When you read the statement, you can see that there is a very clear commitment to reduce the debt burden of Greece by 20 percentage points by 2020 and I would like to especially draw your attention to two or three elements that Jean-Claude Juncker mentioned.
'There has been an impressive recovery in Irish exports on the back of a strong rebound in competitiveness that was lost in the bubble years.
With the recent two-year anniversary of Ireland's EU-IMF programme, it is a good time to take stock. It is no exaggeration to say that, in November 2010, Ireland stood at the edge of a precipice. The country was in the midst of a very deep recession, tax revenues had plummeted and confidence in the financial system had evaporated.
At the beginning of this week a staff-level agreement was reached between the EU-IMF Troika and the Greek authorities on an updated set of programme conditionality.
The long meeting of the Eurogroup on Tuesday night saw substantial progress towards an agreement on Greece, even if a definitive conclusion ultimately proved elusive.
Importantly, the Eurogroup recognised that the Greek authorities have successfully implemented the full set of prior actions agreed with the Troika. This is the result of a very considerable effort on their part. On the fiscal side, these include the adoption of measures totalling some €13.5 billion or 7% of GDP.
Staff teams from the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) visited Lisbon during November 12 - 19 for the sixth quarterly review of Portugal’s economic programme. The teams concluded that the programme remains broadly on track.
- Speaking about the review, Commission Vice-President Rehn said: "the reforms underway are laying the ground for sustainable growth and job creation and the Commission will continue to stand by Portugal as it sees these reforms through." More...
"We live in a dual world. On the one hand, we must continue crisis management to overcome the challenges affecting the current economic situation. On the other hand, we must also work for improving the medium to long-term prospects for Europe – especially in terms of economic growth and employment, but also in terms of our economic policy architecture. These two things are closely intertwined."
Mr Rehn said "our conclusion is that Spain has taken effective action for 2012 and 2013. Thus, I have proposed yesterday to the College, and the College has adopted today a Communication concluding that effective action has been taken for these two years, 2012 and 2013, in restoring the sustainability of public finances. We send this Communication now to the Council for its deliberations and for its decisions.
The Commission's view is that no further steps in the excessive deficit procedure of Spain are needed at present.
However, the measures announced so far for 2014 fall short of what is required by the revised Council recommendation"
Praising the progress made in fiscal and structural reforms, Mr Rehn said that 'it is right and necessary to recognise how far Greece has come in terms of fiscal reforms, and in the most of trying of circumstances for the Greek people.
The short-term outlook for the EU economy remains fragile, but a gradual return to GDP growth is projected for 2013, with further strengthening in 2014.
On an annual basis, GDP is set to contract by 0.3% in the EU and 0.4% in the euro area in 2012. GDP growth for 2013 is projected at 0.4% in the EU and 0.1% in the euro area. Unemployment in the EU is expected to remain very high.