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European Commission - Economic and Financial Affairs
Rehn stresses need for economic coordination and sound public finances in EP hearing
- Almunia announces end of temporary state aid framework end 2010
- Spanish EU Presidency sets out economic priorities
- Economic sentiment reaches highest level in 18 months
- Euro-area economic recovery gathers modest momentum
- EU-Vatican monetary agreement revised
- "The euro: What does it mean to us?" - photo competition
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Rehn stresses need for economic coordination and sound public finances in EP hearing

Pursuing a co-ordinated EU strategy to overcome the economic crisis and establishing healthy public finances in the Member States are essential to ensure a sustainable basis for economic recovery in Europe. That was the message from Commissioner-designate for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn at his 11 January parliamentary hearing. The three-hour Q&A session with the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee saw Mr Rehn broach a whole range of topics related to his prospective portfolio. He had already supplied a number of answers in writing. The European Parliament is due to hold its vote on the new Commission line-up on 26 January.

Our mission will be to do what citizens expect most from us in these times of crisis: provide future perspectives for jobs and prosperity, growth and stability.

Commissioner-designate Olli Rehn
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Almunia announces end of temporary state aid framework end 2010

Commissioner-designate for Competition Joaquín Almunia announced on Tuesday in his EP hearing that the temporary state aid framework that is being applied to the real economy as a consequence of the crisis will, "in principle and if our economic forecasts do not change", expire at the end of 2010. He said it was too early to set a similar deadline for the financial sector, where uncertainty remains high. But Almunia added bailed-out banks will have to restructure in order to become viable in the medium and long term without public assistance, which might in some cases require disinvestment. Almunia stressed the key role competition policy has to play in achieving the EU 2020 objectives of a sustainable and socially just economy.
Spanish EU Presidency sets out economic priorities

The incoming Spanish Presidency of the EU presented its work programme for the ECOFIN Council last week. Its economic priorities will include designing a coordinated strategy for exiting the economic crisis, setting in motion a series of economic measures to promote a new model of sustainable, stable and balanced growth, and strengthening supervision networks in the financial sector. The idea would be to reach agreement in June on the EU 2020 Strategy – a new economic framework for the next decade which could be of a more binding nature than the Lisbon Strategy it will replace.
Economic sentiment reaches highest level in 18 months

The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) rose once again in December 2009 to 92.0 (+4.1 points) in the EU and to 91.3 (+2.5) in the euro area, with the majority of EU Member States reporting a general improvement in sentiment. The ESI has now improved in both areas for nine consecutive months since its trough in March 2009, though it still remains below its long-term average. Industry was the main contributor to the overall improvement, while confidence in financial services declined significantly in the euro area. Employment expectations in industry and services picked up, with consumer confidence also improving in both areas.
Euro-area economic recovery gathers modest momentum

The worst recession in the euro area’s short history seems to have come to an end, according to the latest quarterly report on the area published late December 2009. The rebound in economic activity – +0.4% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter – reflects improvements in the external environment, in financial conditions and in confidence, as well as unprecedented worldwide policy action. But the outlook remains uncertain. The continued, albeit relatively moderate, increase in unemployment is a source of concern, the report finds.
EU-Vatican monetary agreement revised

A renegotiated monetary agreement between the EU and the Vatican City State entered into force on 1 January, doubling the Vatican's allowed issuance of euro coins and thus limiting speculation by coin collectors. The Vatican will now be able to order its coins from any EU mint experienced in minting euro coins. It must also transpose EU legislation on euro counterfeiting and money laundering by the end of 2010 and accept the European Court of Justice as the only jurisdiction responsible for settling disputes under the agreement. A revised monetary agreement with San Marino is also in the pipeline, while negotiations with Monaco should be launched in 2010. A new agreement with Andorra is expected to be finalised during the Spanish Presidency.
"The euro: What does it mean to us?" - photo competition for EU teens

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs is organising a photo competition on the theme of “The euro: What does it mean to us?”. The contest is for 14-18-year-olds resident in the European Union working together in teams of two or three. Teams must submit an original photo, taken by them, illustrating their vision of the euro and accompanied by a short explanatory caption. There will be national prizes as well as an overall winning team, with the competition culminating in an award ceremony in Brussels.

Quarterly report on the euro area, No 4, December 2009
This new issue analyses the first rebound of the euro-area economy after five consecutive negative quarters, and the impact of the crisis on labour markets and exchange-rate movements. It also takes a closer look at structural reforms and how the public perception of the need for such reforms has changed with the crisis. A new model is used to better assess the effects of knowledge-related reforms on growth performance. The report includes two focus sections: one on the impact of the crisis on the banking sector and one on the sustainability of public finances in the euro area. The next QREA is expected in March 2010.

Ninth report on the practical preparations for the future enlargement of the euro area, COM(2009) 692 final
Did the introduction of the euro impact on inflation uncertainty? – An empirical assessment, Economic Paper 396
Study on quality of public finances in support of growth in the Mediterranean partner countries of the EU, Economic Paper 394
EU accession: A road to fast-track convergence? Economic Paper 393
Agenda Calls
18-19 January
Eurogroup/ECOFIN Council
26 January
European Parliament vote on new Commission
27-31 January
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
4 February
Conference: Regionalism and reform of the global monetary & financial system - What role for the European Union and East Asia?
11 February
Special EU summit on the economy
Visiting Fellows Programme (no closing date)
Economics Seminar Programme (no closing date)
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