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European Commission Economic and Financial Affairs
E-NEWS - Issue 154
In this issue - 30 March 2017

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60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome – Rome Summit © European Union , 2017
Rome Declaration of the Leaders of 27 Member States and of the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission

On the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome that launched Europe on the path towards the present day European Union, the leaders of 27 Member States and the EU institutions called the construction of European unity “a bold, far-sighted endeavour.” They noted that the Union is unique, with common institutions and strong values, a community of peace, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and a major economic power with unparalleled levels of social protection and welfare. The EU is facing unprecedented challenges, however, both global and domestic: regional conflicts, terrorism, growing migratory pressures, protectionism, and social and economic inequalities. Leaders reaffirmed that unity gives individual Member States the best chance to influence global dynamics and defend common interests and values. They pledged to work towards a safe and secure Europe; a prosperous and sustainable Europe that creates growth and jobs; a social Europe; and a stronger Europe on the global scene. 

See also : EU celebrates 60 years of Rome Treaties and looks to future
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

“Only by staying united can we pass on to future generations a more prosperous, a more social and a safer Europe.”

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Implementation of reforms under the European Semester © European Council, 2017
EU finance ministers discuss how to improve implementation of reforms under the European Semester

Meeting on 21 March, EU finance ministers discussed how to boost the implementation of country-specific recommendations under the European Semester, the EU’s annual policy monitoring process. Under the 2017 European Semester, the Commission on 22 February presented country reports on the economic situation in the Member States and in-depth reviews for 13 Member States under the annual Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure. The ministers noted that a significant proportion of country-specific recommendations are not fully implemented by the Member States. This gave rise to an exchange of views on how these experiences have impacted on the business environment. The discussion focused on three aspects: the role of public administration, access to finance and product market regulation. Ministers also discussed a proposal that would authorise non-standard VAT rates for electronic publications and a proposal that would allow for a generalised but temporary reversal of liability as a means of preventing VAT fraud. 

See also : Economic and Financial Affairs Council, 21/03/2017
Hans Jörg Schelling, Pierre Moscovici, Jeroen Dijsselbloem and Benoît Cœur
Euro area finance ministers agree to use benchmarking to spur reforms in pension sustainability

At a meeting of the Eurogroup on 20 March, euro area finance ministers discussed benchmarking as a tool to provide impetus for reforms in the area of pension sustainability. The finance ministers noted that significant progress has been achieved in improving pension sustainability in the euro area, but that considerable risks remain in many Member States. The Eurogroup agreed, therefore, to benchmark the fiscal sustainability of euro area Member States’ pension systems against the best performers in the euro area according to commonly agreed indicators. The indicators measure the gap to a sustainable fiscal position, including the impact of pension spending. These benchmarks are measurable and under the control of policy makers. In order to have a comprehensive and balanced view, the benchmarks will be complemented by two other indicators: the comparative level and evolution of the legal and effective retirement age, and the coverage ratio and the pension benefit ratio. The Eurogroup will conduct this benchmarking exercise every three years starting in 2018, within the context of existing processes and surveillance mechanisms, in particular the Ageing Reports and the assessment of the Stability Programmes

See also : Eurogroup Statement on the structural reform agenda - thematic discussions on growth and jobs: benchmarking pension sustainability
G20 © Thinkstock
G20 Ministers meet in Baden-Baden – first international meeting for the new US administration

Commissioner Moscovici participated in the first G20 Ministerial meeting of the German G20 Presidency on 17-18 March in Baden-Baden. This was one of the most keenly watched G20 meetings for some time, particularly because it was the first time that the new US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, took part. At the meeting there was agreement that the global economy was showing more positive momentum both for advanced (including the EU) and emerging economies. However, it was felt that the balance of risks remains asymmetric and skewed to the downside. There were also discussions on trade, tax, financial regulation, climate finance, and the international financial architecture.

See also : G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting Baden-Baden, Germany, 17-18 March 2017
Image taken from Investment Plan webpage © European Union, 2014
Juncker Plan: Investment Plan for Europe agreements to support transport in Poland and regional airports in Greece

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK), the Polish Development Bank, announced an agreement on 21 March to finance construction of the Łagiewnicka Route, part of the Kraków inner southern by-pass in order to reduce congestion in Kraków. This agreement was made possible by the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The EFSI is the central pillar of the European Commission's Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called “Juncker Plan”. The PLN 400 million (approx. EUR 93 million) loan makes the EIB the major lender supporting this project, with the BGK providing additional support of PLN 298 million (some EUR 69.3 million). On 28 March, the Investment Plan also backed a EUR 280 million EIB loan agreement to help finance upgrades to 14 regional airports in Greece. The airports served a total of about 25.2 million passengers in 2016.

See also : Investment Plan
ECFIN eNews reader survey © European Union, 2017
ECFIN E-news reader survey: What do you think of it?

The EU economic and financial landscape – and economic governance – continues to evolve in 2017. ECFIN E-news aims to summarise for you the latest key developments and invites you to read further about the topics you find most interesting. We would like to kindly ask you to let us know your views and suggestions. What do you like about the newsletter? What could be improved? Thank you for sharing your thoughts by spending just a few minutes to answer the online questionnaire. We appreciate your feedback.

See also : ECFIN E-news reader survey: What do you think of it?
reading glasses on paper © iStockphoto
Commission launches public consultation on operation of European Supervisory Authorities

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the operation of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs). The ESAs are a cornerstone of the reforms put in place in the wake of the financial crisis. The aim now is to identify areas where the effectiveness and efficiency of the ESAs can be strengthened and improved. A general review of the ESAs is foreseen for this year and mandated by their founding Regulations. The consultation will run until 16 May 2017.

See also : Public consultation on the operations of the European Supervisory Authorities
Quarterly report on the euro area
Quarterly report on the euro area
The first issue of 2017 looks at the problem of non-performing loans from a macroeconomic perspective. It also looks at ways to unlock investment in intangible assets in Europe and assesses the competitiveness of the euro area from a number of perspectives.
Post-Programme Surveillance Report - Ireland, Autumn 2016. European Economy. Institutional Paper 50.
This report by the European Commission presents the findings of the sixth post-programme surveillance mission to Ireland and identifies remaining challenges for the Irish economy.
Post-Programme Surveillance Report - Portugal, Autumn 2016. European Economy. Institutional Paper 51.
This report by the European Commission presents the findings of the fifth post-programme surveillance mission to Portugal and identifies remaining challenges for the Portuguese economy
Graph of the Week

How to encourage investment in intangible assets

Selected Speeches
20 March 2017
Commissioner Moscovici. Eurogroup press conference. Speech 17/692 of 20 March.
21 March 2017
Vice-President Dombrovskis. ECOFIN press conference. Speech 17/708 of 21 March.
25 March 2017
President Jean-Claude Juncker. At the 60th Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome celebration – A new chapter for our Union: shaping the future of EU 27. Speech 17/768 of 25 March.

Call for applications for the selection of members of the “Support to Circular Economy Financing Expert Group”. Deadline 9 May.

Public consultation on the operations of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs). Deadline 16 May.

Public consultation on potential restrictions on large payments in cash. Deadline 31 May.
3-6 April
European Parliament Plenary
7-8 April
Informal Eurogroup/ECOFIN
21-23 April
Washington, D.C
World Bank Group / IMF 2017 spring meetings
26-27 April
European Parliament Plenary
27 April
Frankfurt, Germany
ECB Governing Council meeting
11–13 May
Bari, Italy
G7 Finance Ministerial meeting
date tbc
Spring economic forecasts
15–18 May
European Parliament Plenary
22-23 May
1 June
Brussels Economic Forum
12–15 June
European Parliament Plenary
15–16 June
22–23 June
European Council
3–6 July
European Parliament Plenary
7–8 July
Hamburg, Germany
G20 Summit
10–11 July
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