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  25 February 2021  
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Economic and Financial Affairs

ECFIN E-news 232

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Eurogroup reviews macroeconomic situation and policy prospects in view of economic and pandemic developments
Video conference of the Eurogroup - Mr Paolo GENTILONI, European Commissioner for Economy

Meeting by videoconference on 15 February, euro area finance ministers exchanged views on macroeconomic developments and policy prospects in the euro area.

The discussion was based on the European Commission's Winter 2021 Forecast and the latest information on health developments presented by Michael Ryan, World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Director for Health Emergencies Programme and Bruce Aylward, Senior Advisor responsible for the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19. Ministers also discussed the international role of the euro following guidance of the December 2020 Euro Summit and the publication of the European Commission's communication of 19 January 2021 "The European economic and financial system: fostering strength and resilience". The aim is to reduce the euro area’s dependence on other currencies, and to strengthen its autonomy in various situations, while monitoring potential trade-offs stemming from its increased international use. Eurogroup ministers also exchanged views on recent developments in the solvency of the corporate sector based on a note prepared by the Commission. They recognised that difficult times could lie ahead as businesses repair their balance sheets and economies restructure due to changing health circumstances. Lastly, the Eurogroup discussed the updated draft budgetary plan of Lithuania for 2021, on the basis of the Commission opinion issued on 21 January 2021, and Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus presented the policy priorities of the new Estonian government.

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Viewpoint
Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner for the Economy
Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner for the Economy.

"…it is up to us, to make a success of NextGenerationEU. The impact of NextGenerationEU is not factored into our Winter Forecast. Our simulation projects that we should have growth of 2% on average and stronger than 2% in the most affected countries."

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ECOFIN: Ministers review economic situation and outlook, EU pandemic response measures
Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, in charge of An Economy that Works for People, at the press conference of the informal video conference of economic and finance ministers

EU finance ministers took stock of the current economic situation and outlook during an informal ECOFIN videoconference on 16 February.

They heard a presentation by the Commission on its 2021 winter forecast and a presentation by the European Central Bank on financial stability related issues. They also focused on the implementation of the measures agreed last year as part of the EU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission also gave an overview of its borrowing operations under SURE, the European instrument for temporary support to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency. The bonds have drawn a high level of interest among investors, resulting in favourable pricing terms. The presidency informed ministers about the state of play regarding the ratification of the “own resources” decision, highlighting the importance of a speedy conclusion to the process and the Commission outlined its thinking regarding the borrowing strategy for Next Generation EU. Ministers also held an initial exchange of views on the financing and policy priorities for the recovery of low-income countries in the context of an EU Global Recovery Initiative and prepared for the upcoming meeting of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors.

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Commission publishes enhanced surveillance report for Greece
EU flag and Greek flag

The Commission has adopted the ninth enhanced surveillance report for Greece. The report is prepared in the context of the enhanced surveillance framework which serves to ensure continued support for the delivery of Greece's reform commitments following the successful completion of the stability support programme in 2018.

It finds that Greece has progressed well with the implementation of a number of reform commitments, while noting that, overall, reform momentum has slowed down against the background of challenging circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic. A number of detailed roadmaps in specific key reform areas have been agreed with Greece to foster decisive reform progress ahead of the tenth report in May, which will serve as a basis for the Eurogroup to decide on the release of the next set of policy-contingent debt measures. The Commission is in continuous and constructive dialogue with the Greek authorities on the preparation of their recovery and resilience plan, which sets out reforms and public investment projects that will be supported by the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). Enhanced surveillance for Greece will continue in parallel with the RRF, drawing on the positive experience with the interplay between enhanced surveillance and the European Semester so far.

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Investment Plan: EIF provides €100 million to support impact investment by Tikehau Capital
Plant growing

On 11 February, Tikehau Capital, the pan-European and international alternative asset management and investment group, completed the first closing for its investment platform focused on impact lending, raising approximately €100 million from the European Investment Fund (EIF), backed by the Investment Plan for Europe, an anchor investor alongside other key institutional investors.

Tikehau Capital will invest primarily in European SMEs that contribute to the sustainable economic transition in Europe through their offering, their resource management, or their processes. The EIF-participation in the fund is made possible thanks to the support of the Investment Plan for Europe of the European Commission and is expected to facilitate fundraising from other institutional investors, helping the fund to reach a target size of €350 million to €400 million.

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Eurostat: Annual inflation up to 0.9% in the euro area, up to 1.2% in the EU
Annual inflation up to 0.9% in the euro area in January 2021

The euro area annual inflation rate was 0.9% in January 2021, up from -0.3% in December. A year earlier, the rate was 1.4%. EU annual inflation was 1.2% in January 2021, up from 0.3% in December.

A year earlier, the rate was 1.7%. These figures are published by Eurostat, the EU statistical office. The lowest annual rates were registered in Greece (-2.4%), Slovenia (-0.9%) and Cyprus (-0.8%). The highest annual rates were recorded in Poland (3.6%), Hungary (2.9%) and Czechia (2.2%). Compared with December, annual inflation fell in three Member States, remained stable in six and rose in eighteen. In January, the highest contribution to the annual euro area inflation rate came from services (+0.65 percentage points, pp), followed by non-energy industrial goods (+0.37 pp), food, alcohol & tobacco (+0.30 pp) and energy (-0.41 pp).

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See also Eurostat: Annual inflation up to 0.9% in the euro area, up to 1.2% in the EU
Launch of InvestEU: Opportunities start here
Visual illustrating the InvestEU programme

Join Commissioner Gentiloni live for the launch of the new InvestEU programme on 18 March and register at the link below.

The promotion of recovery, green growth, employment and well-being across Europe is one of the EU’s top priorities, supporting investment that delivers real benefits and makes a difference at the local level. InvestEU will provide the EU with crucial long-term funding, crowding in private investment in support of a sustainable recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and helping build a greener, more digital and more resilient European economy. The InvestEU programme will be supported by a dedicated website which will serve as a one-stop shop, a unique entry point for InvestEU stakeholders and citizens to access information on the programme. Join us on 18 March to learn more about the InvestEU Fund, Advisory Hub and Portal and the opportunities they offer.

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See also Launch of InvestEU: Opportunities start here
Selected speeches

25/02/2021

Remarks by Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis at the informal ECOFIN press conference
 
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25/02/2021

Remarks by Commissioner Gentiloni at the Eurogroup press conference
 
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