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European Commission - Economic and Financial AffairsEuropean Commission - Economic and Financial Affairs
New Commission takes office; Olli Rehn confirmed in economic and monetary portfolio
- EU leaders meet for special summit on the economy
- Commission adopts comprehensive package of recommendations to Greece
- Romanian deficit action is effective, but 3% deadline put back a year
- Product Market Review: Microeconomic consequences of the crisis and implications for recovery
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New Commission takes office; Olli Rehn confirmed in economic and monetary portfolio

The new European Commission line-up took office on February 10 having been approved by the European Parliament the previous day, with 488 votes in favour, 137 against, and 72 abstentions. Commission President Barroso made clear that one of the first priorities would be to propose a successor to the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs. The prospective EU 2020 Strategy will be a key focus for Olli Rehn, who is confirmed in the post of Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner. The Finn, who was previously EU Enlargement Commissioner, succeeds Joaquín Almunia who has taken on the Competition portfolio in the “Barroso II” team.

We have to return to sustainable public finances and to explore all possible avenues that mobilise all the sources of economic growth, from education and innovation to green technologies and digital services.

European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn
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EU leaders meet for special summit on the economy

EU leaders were gathered in Brussels as this e-news was going to press for a special summit on the economy – with crisis talks on the Greek budget situation dominating the agenda. President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy had convened the February 11 Informal meeting of Heads of State or Government for an in-depth discussion on the state of the economy and the follow-up to the Copenhagen climate conference. The summit was expected to debate the planned EU 2020 Strategy, with a view to continuing the discussions at the EU’s Spring Summit (March 25-26) and approving the strategy in June. The 2020 Strategy, replacing the Lisbon Strategy, promises to be both a structural reform and an exit-and-recovery strategy, with an emphasis on enhanced economic monitoring and surveillance.
Commission adopts comprehensive package of recommendations to Greece

The European Commission adopted on February 3 a series of recommendations with a view to ensuring that Greece brings its excessive budget deficit down to below 3% of GDP by 2012, implements structural reforms to improve its competitiveness and runs policies that are in keeping with the general interest of the euro area and of the EU as a whole. In view of Greece’s fiscal imbalances, the Commission broadly welcomed the ambitious budgetary targets outlined in the Greek Stability Programme for 2010-2013 and the various fiscal measures and structural reforms announced by Athens. But it drew attention to the fact that the macroeconomic scenario underlying the programme was optimistic and that there were risks to its implementation. The Commission called for further detail in some areas and readiness to adopt additional measures, and made clear that implementation would be monitored closely and regularly. The recommendations are subject to approval at the February 16 ECOFIN meeting.
Romanian deficit action is effective, but 3% deadline put back a year

Romania has taken effective action to correct its excessive budget deficit , the European Commission said on February 8. But in view of a sharper-than-expected recession in 2009, the Commission proposed to extend the deadline by one year to 2012 for Romania to bring the deficit below the 3%-of-GDP ceiling specified by EU rules. The country's government deficit is expected to have reached 7.3% of GDP in cash terms (7.8% of GDP in ESA95 terms), with 5.9% the cash deficit target in the 2010 budget (6.4% deficit target in ESA95 terms).
Product Market Review: Microeconomic consequences of the crisis and implications for recovery

Examining the microeconomic consequences of the economic crisis can help us better understand the drivers of recovery. That is the message from the 2009 Product Market Review. The review explores the impact of the crisis on the structure of the EU economy and on R&D and innovation, and discusses temporary sectoral anti-crisis measures. It concludes that product market support measures need to be closely monitored and withdrawn in a timely manner in order to avoid distorting competition in the EU Internal Market, and that the pre-crisis structural reform agenda is just as relevant as, and even more urgent than, before.

Exit strategy: is 1937/38 relevant? Economic Brief 7
The US recession of 1937-38 is often used as a warning against premature exit from monetary and fiscal stimulus today – but this Economic Brief argues that the two situations are not comparable. Firstly, applying the same timescale, one would not expect a similar recession today until 2016-17. Secondly, the cutback in policy stimulus represented a late rather than early exit, following an unduly late and timid entry. And while it may have partly contributed to the recession, other more important factors were at play, notably geopolitical tensions and the adverse confidence effects of President Roosevelt's New Deal policies.

European Business Cycle Indicators, February 2010
An indicator-based assessment framework to identify country-specific challenges towards greener growth, Economic Paper 401
The role of technology in health care expenditure in the EU, Economic Paper 400
How to close the productivity gap between the US and Europe: A quantitative assessment using a semi-endogenous growth model, Economic Paper 399
Italy's employment gap: the role of taxation, Country Focus
Agenda Calls
15-16 February
Eurogroup/ECOFIN Council
25 February
Commission's interim economic forecast
25-26 March
European Council
25-26 May
Brussels Economic Forum 2010
Call for papers – UK country seminar (deadline: 7 March 2010)
Economics Seminar Programme (no closing date)
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Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs