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  30 January 2020  
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Economic and Financial Affairs

ECFIN E-news 211

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Finance ministers examine Portugal draft budgetary plan, exchange views on EMU deepening and review IMF interim mission findings
Mr Paolo GENTILONI, European Commissioner for Economy; Mr Mario CENTENO, President of the Eurogroup. © European Union, 2020

At the Eurogroup meeting on 20 January, the finance ministers discussed the updated draft budgetary plan of Portugal for 2020, on the basis of a Commission opinion.

In a statement, they noted that despite a risk of significant deviation from the adjustment path, Portugal’s medium-term budgetary objective is within reach and Portugal continues to comply with the debt rule. The Commission presented its proposal for the draft recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area for 2020, and the new governments of Spain, Austria and Finland presented their policy priorities. During the part of the meeting in inclusive format, EU finance ministers exchanged views on the organisation of further work on the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in the coming months, as a follow-up to the Euro Summit of 13 December 2019. At the Euro Summit, leaders had agreed that finance ministers should continue work on EMU deepening, particularly European Stability Mechanism (ESM) reforms, solutions for the financing of the Budgetary Instrument for Convergence and Competitiveness (BICC), and the way forward for the banking union. In the Eurogroup meeting, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also presented the main findings of its euro area Article IV interim mission to the euro area finance ministers.

See also Eurogroup, 20 January 2020
Mr Mario CENTENO, President of the Eurogroup. © European Union, 2020
Mário Centeno, President of the Eurogroup

“The euro area economy is in the midst of a slowdown but continues to grow – the length of this growth period and the number of jobs created are breaking all records.”

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ECOFIN: finance ministers exchange views on European Green Deal and tax challenges of digitalisation; initiate European Semester
Green Deal logo © European Union, 2020

Meeting on 21 January, EU finance ministers discussed the financial and economic aspects of the European Green Deal.

The Commission presented its communication on the European Green Deal Investment Plan that was published on 14 January. During the debate, ministers stressed the importance and relevance of the European Green Deal and their readiness to examine, as a matter of priority, the concrete actions to be put forward by the Commission under the deal in the months to come. The Council also initiated the annual 'European Semester' process for the monitoring of Member States’ economic, employment and fiscal policies, and the Commission presented its Autumn package which was published on 17 December 2019. Ministers also exchanged views on tax challenges arising from digitalisation. They took stock of the progress achieved in the context of the OECD, both on the reallocation of profits of digitalized businesses ("Pillar 1") and on the general reform of international corporate taxation ("Pillar 2). The debate confirmed that an international solution on digital taxation was the best way forward, as it would prevent fragmentation and unilateral measures.

See also Economic and Financial Affairs Council, 21 January 2020
Greece Post-Programme Mission assesses progress, including implementation of reform commitments, and key challenges remaining
The national flag of Greece next to the European flag © European Union, 2020

Staff from the European Commission, in liaison with staff from the European Central Bank, visited Athens from 22-24 January for the fifth post-programme mission to Greece.

Staff from the IMF participated in the context of its Post-Programme Monitoring (PPM) framework while staff from the European Stability Mechanism participated in the context of its Early Warning System. The mission held productive discussions on the situation, progress made, key challenges still facing the Greek economy and the policy priorities. Particular attention was paid to assessing the implementation of specific reform commitments for end-2019 annexed to the Eurogroup statement of June 2018 as well as the general commitment to continue and complete the key reforms launched under the ESM stability support programme. Close dialogue on economic policy priorities and challenges will continue going forward on a regular basis. The fifth enhanced surveillance report will be published next month.

See also Staff statement following the fifth post-programme mission to Greece
World Economic Forum in Davos: President von der Leyen underlines Europe's ambitious world role in keynote speech
Ursula von der Leyen at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum 2020 in Davos. © European Union, 2020

On 22 January, European Commission President von der Leyen delivered a keynote speech at the 50th edition of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“This is about Europe shaping its own future”, the President said, stressing Europe's ambition to lead the fight against climate change and promote a human-centric approach towards the processing and protection of data. The President emphasised that an inclusive approach is needed to address the pressing challenges to our daily lives and global order. She said: “We need to rediscover the power of cooperation, based on fairness and mutual respect. This is what I call ‘geopolitics of mutual interests’. This is what Europe stands for. This is what Europe will work for, with all those who are ready to join.” On climate action, President von der Leyen stressed Europe's first-mover advantage, using the European Green Deal as a regenerative growth model to give back resources to the planet.

See also Daily News 22 / 01/ 2020
Investment Plan: EU invests over half a billion euro in eco-friendly transport, efficient electric power systems, ride-sharing, and SMEs
Boosting Jobs, Growth and Investment © European Union, 2015

Commuters in Hungary will soon enjoy safer, more comfortable, and eco-friendly buses thanks to a €140 million loan to Volán Buszpark Kft from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The first tranche of €47 million was signed for on 24 January. The EIB financing is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the financial pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan. It will enable Volán to modernize half of its bus fleet and reduce CO2 emissions by 38%. The EIB also agreed on 22 January to provide €27 million to the Arteche Group to help the Spanish multinational to develop safer and more efficient electric power systems. The EIB announced on 20 January that it is providing BBVA with a €300 million guarantee that will enable the Spanish bank to provide €600 million to support the investments of SMEs. This is the first risk-sharing operation to be signed by the EIB and BBVA, and the EIB is granting €150m of this guarantee under the Investment Plan for Europe, the support of which enables the EU bank to finance riskier projects. On 16 January, the EIB signed an agreement to make a €50 million venture debt facility available for Estonian ride-hailing platform Bolt. The investment will enable Bolt to improve and expand its ride-hailing technology as well as develop personalised mobility services like food delivery.

See also Investment Plan for Europe: the Juncker Plan
Commission and European Investment Bank Group join forces to boost space sector investment with €200 million in financing
Josep Borrell Fontelles at the 12th European Space Conference © European Union, 2020

The Commission, in partnership with the European Investment Bank Group, announced on 21 January that it is investing €200 million to support ground-breaking innovation in the EU space sector.

During the 12th European Space Conference in Brussels, the EIB and ArianeGroup signed an agreement to confirm a €100 million contingent loan for the new Ariane 6 launcher programme. This deal is backed by the Investment Plan for Europe. In addition, the Commission and the European Investment Fund (EIF) announced the first ever EU-backed InnovFin Space Equity Pilot and the first space-focused tech fund in Europe supported under the pilot. The InnovFin Space Equity Pilot is a €100 million programme under InnovFin specifically dedicated to support the innovation and growth of European SMEs operating in the sector of space technologies.

See also European Commission and European Investment Bank Group join forces to boost space sector investment with €200 million of financing
Selected Speeches


Remarks by Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis at the Conference on implementing the European Green Deal: Financing the Transition


Opening remarks of Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis at the ECOFIN press conference


Remarks by Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni at the Eurogroup press conference
10-13 February
European Parliament Plenary
date tbc Winter Economic Forecast
17-18 February
9-12 March
European Parliament Plenary
16-17 March
26-27 March
European Council
date tbcEuropean Semester Winter Package
EU Candidate Countries’ & Potential Candidates’ Economic Quarterly (CCEQ) – 4th Quarter 2019

An overview of economic developments in candidate and pre-candidate countries.

Debt Sustainability Monitor 2019
Debt Sustainability Monitor 2019

The Debt Sustainability Monitor 2019 provides an overview of fiscal sustainability challenges faced by EU Member States over the short, medium and long term.


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