The economic crisis has prompted intense and sustained action by the EU's national governments, the European Central Bank and the Commission. All have been working closely together to support growth and employment, ensure financial stability, and put in place a better governance system for the future.
G20 finance ministers and central bank governors agreed on a two-step process and a set of indicators that will allow the G20 to focus policy action on persistently large macroeconomic imbalances. The agreed indicators to be used are public sector debt and fiscal deficits, private savings rates and private deb, and the external imbalance composed of the trade balance and net investment income flows and transfers, taking into consideration exchange rate, fiscal, monetary and other policies. This agreement paves the way for the next meeting on 14-15 April which will draw up “indicative guidelines” (benchmarks) for each indicator. G20 ministers and governors also discussed a work programme for the discussion on reform of the international monetary system, priorities for future financial market reform, and the risks to the world economy posed by volatile commodity prices.
Following agreement by the European Commission on the Treaty amendment before 2013 to allow for the establishment of a European Stability Mechanism (ESM) endorsed on 16 - 17 December 2010, Commission President Barroso said that this decision was crucial to prove EU determination to defend the common currency and guarantee financial stability.
European finance ministers discussed the Commission package of legislative proposals of 29 September 2010 intended to strengthen EU economic governance and expressed their intention to agree on a general approach on all six proposals at their meeting on 15 March. THis should in turn lead to reaching an agreement with the European Parliament in June. Ministers also pursued implementation of the first European Semester which the Commission had launched with its first Annual Growth Survey (AGS) of 12 January. Based on the Commission recommendations for 10 priority actions, ministers adopted conclusions on policy guidelines to Member States to tackle macroeconomic and fiscal challenges.
>> 3067th ECOFIN Council meeting. Council conclusions
>> Council conclusions on European Semester: macroeconomic and fiscal guidance
EU leaders stressed that a final agreement on the Commission legislative proposals on economic governance of 29 September should be reached by the end of June in order to strengthen the EU Stability and Growth Pact and implement a new macroeconomic framework. In their conclusions, the Council was urged to agree a general approach on the proposals in March. The summit also identified the tasks relating to the EU economy that should be completed before the next European Council meeting, notably with a view to pursuing work on a comprehensive strategy for the euro area. Building on the new economic governance framework, Heads of State or Government of the euro area signalled their readiness to achieve “a new quality of economic policy coordination” in the euro area, so as to improve competitiveness.
>> European Council 4 February 2011 . EUCO 2/11. European Council Conclusions
Steps to improve the regulation, functioning and transparency of financial and commodity markets are among the actions called for by the European Commission in a Communication on commodities and raw materials issued on 2 February. Significantly for the EU economy, the Commission’s initiative looks to respond to the recent volatility in commodity prices that is threatening to push up inflation and aims to safeguard the competitiveness of European industry in terms of secure supply of raw materials. The Communication is closely related to reform of the regulatory framework for financial markets. This includes proposals for a review of the Market Abuse Directive and the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive foreseen for spring 2011. It is also intended to contribute to the “Europe 2020” flagship initiative 'A resource-efficient Europe'.
Press release IP 11/122. The Commission calls for action on commodities and raw materials
>> Enterprise and Industry. Critical raw materials
The EU is to subscribe to additional shares in the capital of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) under a proposal from the European Commission. The proposal – for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the EU Council of Ministers – follows the decision in May 2010 of the EBRD Board of Governors to increase the authorised capital of the EBRD from €20 billion to €30 billion. The Bank’s capital enhancement was agreed in response to the financial crisis and the need for the EBRD’s activity to be stepped up to help support recovery in its region of operation, namely central and eastern Europe, the Balkans and central Asia. The EU's total subscribed capital would increase to just over €900 million.