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Herman VAN ROMPUY, President of the European Council (right) - José Manuel BARROSO, President of the European Commission © European Union, 2011 European leaders take decisive action to pull Europe out of crisis
- European leaders agree on immediate action to address market tensions
- European leaders agree on “fiscal compact”
- Finance ministers pave the way for fourth disbursement of financial assistance to Ireland
- Commission re-launches EU co-funded priority projects in Greece
- Europe and US reaffirm cooperation; create working group to bolster growth and job creation
- New ECFIN information campaign explains the purpose of the euro and why it matters to China
- New EU fundraising rules to boost venture capital for SMEs and ease access to credit
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José Manuel BARROSO, President of the European Commission © European Union, 2011 European leaders take decisive action to pull Europe out of crisis

At meetings held on 8-9 December, European leaders agreed on a series of strong measures designed to pull Europe out of the crisis. The political agreement includes immediate steps to tackle current market tensions, including leveraging the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and accelerating deployment of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). Euro area and other Member States may also provide additional resources for the IMF of up to EUR 200 billion. A “fiscal compact” among euro area Member States will enshrine new rules in their national legal systems and contain an automatic correction mechanism, and the Excessive Deficit Procedure will be further reinforced. Several other Member States have indicated their readiness to take part after consulting their Parliaments. The EU also plans to fast-track Commission proposals designed to boost growth and jobs and implement measures, at both national and European level, to support employment, particularly for the most vulnerable groups such as the young unemployed.

Viewpoint
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We have said it before this Summit, and I keep my opinion, that at the core of these issues are problems of confidence. And I think it is important that the euro area member states have today decided to have a new fiscal rule that is much more ambitious than the one we have so far.

José Manuel Barroso President of the European Commission
"
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Euro Coins © Istockphoto.com
European leaders agree on immediate action to address market tensions

European leaders have agreed on immediate steps to forcefully address current market tensions. The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) is to be leveraged and leaders agreed to accelerate deployment of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). The ESM treaty should now enter into force in July 2012. When the financial and economic sustainability of the euro area is threatened, an ESM emergency voting procedure will ensure swift decision-making. Furthermore, euro area and other Member States will decide within 10 days whether to provide additional resources for the IMF of up to EUR 200 billion (USD 270 billion), in the form of bilateral loans. As for private sector involvement, the EU will henceforth strictly adhere to well established IMF principles and practices.

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Coin under magnifier © Istockphoto.com
European leaders agree on “fiscal compact”

To move more strongly towards a genuine “fiscal stability union”, euro area Member States have agreed on a “fiscal compact”. Several other Member States have indicated their readiness to take part after consulting their Parliaments. The goal of the compact, as a response to the current crisis, is to strengthen fiscal discipline and introduce more automatic sanctions and stricter surveillance. The main elements of the fiscal compact include a requirement for national budgets to be in balance or in surplus and a requirement to incorporate this rule into national legal systems at constitutional or equivalent level. Similarly, the rules governing the Excessive Deficit Procedure will be further reinforced. In addition, and based on the Commisison proposals of 23 November, if, after examining draft budgetary plans, the Commission identifies particularly serious non-compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact, it will request a revised draft budgetary plan.

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The Ha'penny bridge in Dublin © Thinkstock.com
Finance ministers pave the way for fourth disbursement of financial assistance to Ireland

At their regular meeting on 30 November, European finance ministers adopted a decision modifying the conditions underpinning financial assistance to Ireland. The decision takes into account the country’s revised economic outlook and paves the way for disbursement of a fourth instalment of financial assistance to Ireland under the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM). This follows the fourth review mission of the Commission and the IMF, in liaison with the European Central Bank, which took account of the progress Ireland made in implementing the agreed programme. In November 2010, ministers gave the go-ahead for a EUR 85 billion package of financial assistance, with EUR 22.5 billion provided under the EFSM.

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Greek Flag © Istockphoto.com
Commission re-launches EU co-funded priority projects in Greece

The Commission and Greece have agreed on an updated list of priority projects to be co-funded by the European Commission. EU structural funds are to be invested in projects that create much needed economic growth and new jobs in all Greek regions. The agreement followed a meeting on 28 November between European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn and the governors of the Greek regions and mayors of the main cities in Greece. Together with the Task Force for Greece, the re-focused projects funded by structural funds are part of the Commission's comprehensive assistance to Greece in tackling its difficult economic and social situation.


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Barack Obama, on the left, and José Manuel Barroso © European Union, 2011
Europe and US reaffirm cooperation; create working group to bolster growth and job creation

“We have just reaffirmed our determination to work closely together for the stability of the global economy and for the benefit of our peoples,” stated President Barroso after the EU-US Summit, which was held on 28 November in Washington, D.C. In addition to underscoring the importance of cooperation in a host of areas including trade, energy and climate change, Europe and the US agreed to create a High-Level Working Group for Jobs and Growth. The group will examine how to strengthen the EU-US trade and investment relationship, and focus on options that have the highest potential to boost growth and job creation.

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© European Union, 2011
New ECFIN information campaign explains the purpose of the euro and why it matters to China

A new ECFIN information campaign aims to raise awareness in China about the euro, as well as the sovereign-debt crisis and the many measures taken to address it. The campaign consists of a stand-alone audio-visual exhibition manned by student volunteers who distribute information booklets and souvenirs. It is complemented with events at different universities in which senior EU staff engage with Chinese students (as important decision makers in a longer-term perspective) and others. University leaders and representatives from the Peoples’ Bank of China (China's central bank) are also invited to speak. China is an increasingly important partner to the EU and the EU is China's largest export market. Hence, there is strong interest in and support for the euro area among the Chinese leadership. Awareness and understanding of the euro area is less strong in the media, however.

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Roofer © Istockphoto.com
New EU fundraising rules to boost venture capital for SMEs and ease access to credit

The European Commission has presented a strategy to promote better access to finance for SMEs. The EU Action Plan, released on 7 December, calls for increased financial support from the EU budget and the European Investment Bank. It also includes a proposal for a regulation that will make it easier for venture capitalists to raise funds across Europe by introducing a single rulebook for marketing funds. A related measure announced at the end of November, allows the use of structural funds to invest in enterprises at any stage of their normal business activity and not only at the time when they are established or are expanding, as was the case until now. As a result of a fall in lending to the real economy during the current crisis, it has become increasingly difficult for SMEs to access loans. Access to finance, however, is essential to enhance SMEs’ competiveness and growth potential.

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Publications
Progress towards meeting the economic criteria for accession : the assessments of the 2011 Progress Reports and the Opinion (Serbia) © European Union, 2011

Progress towards meeting the economic criteria for accession : the assessments of the 2011 Progress Reports and the Opinion (Serbia), Occasional Paper 85

In this Occasional Paper, ECFIN combines in a single document the economic chapters of the 2011 Progress Reports and the Opinion (Serbia) on progress made towards meeting the accession criteria of each candidate and potential candidate country. The European Commission published the Progress Reports and the Opinion on 12 October 2011. The purpose of this Occasional Paper is to facilitate the work of scholars, researchers and analysts of the enlargement process who are mainly interested in its economic aspects.



Quarterly report on the euro area, upcoming
 
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Agenda Calls
12-15 December 2011
Strasbourg
European Parliament Plenary
16-19 January 2012
Strasbourg
European Parliament Plenary
20-21 January 2012
Mexico City
G20 Deputies meeting
23-24 January 2012
Brussels
Eurogroup/ECOFIN meetings
25-29 January 2012
Davos-Klosters, Switzerland
World Economic Forum annual meeting 2012
9 February 2012
Abu Dhabi
G8 Deputies' meeting on economic track of the Deauville partnership
16-18 February 2012
Mexico City
G20 Deputies', Ministers and Central Bank Governors meetings
20-21 February 2012
Brussels
Eurogroup/ECOFIN meetings
1-2 March 2012
Brussels
European Council
 
Call for papers. "EU balance-of-payments assistance for Latvia: Foundations of Success" (working title). Deadline for selected authors: 31 January 2012
Call for proposals. Joint Harmonised European Union Programme of Business and Consumer Surveys. Deadline 19 December 2011
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Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs