The Commission has presented today a comprehensive package of reforms to further strengthen the resilience of EU banks. This proposal builds on existing EU banking rules and aims to complete the post-crisis regulatory agenda by making sure that the regulatory framework addresses any outstanding challenges to financial stability, while ensuring that banks can continue to support the real economy. Banks have a central role in financing the economy and for promoting growth and jobs. They are a key source of funding for households and businesses. In the wake of the financial crisis, the EU pursued an ambitious reform of the financial regulatory system to bring back financial stability and market confidence. Today’s proposals aim to complete this reform agenda by implementing some outstanding elements, which are essential to further reinforce banks’ ability to withstand potential shocks. The proposals also fine-tune some aspects of the new regulatory framework where necessary to make it more growth-friendly and proportionate to banks’ complexity, size and business profile. It also includes measures that will support SMEs and investment in infrastructure. Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: “Europe needs a strong and diverse banking sector to finance the economy. We need bank lending for companies to invest, remain competitive and sell into bigger markets and for households to plan ahead. Today, we have put forward new risk reduction proposals that build on the agreed global standards while taking into account the specificities of the European banking sector.” The measures proposed today are also part of Commission’s ongoing work to reduce risk in the banking sector and they are in line with the conclusions of the ECOFIN Council in June.
Commission services are today launching a Task Force on Financial Technology (TFFT) that aims to assess and make the most of innovation in this area, while also developing strategies to address the potential challenges that FinTech poses. The work of this Task Force builds on the Commission’s goal to develop a comprehensive strategy on FinTech. Technological development provides great opportunities for existing financial institutions, alternative service providers and new business models, provided that any risks are carefully managed. This internal Task Force brings together the expertise of Commission staff across several areas, such as: financial and digital services, digital innovation and security, competition and consumer protection. It will also engage with stakeholders and present policy suggestions and recommendations in the first half of 2017. Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union said: “We see technological innovation in finance as a development that we need to encourage and enable. It brings huge opportunities for consumers and for industry, both by established players and new Fintech firms. Our Task Force will help us make sure that our policy supports the pursuit of these opportunities, while addressing any risks that may emerge. Efficient financial markets need to make the best possible use of the opportunities that technology presents, while also preserving competition and making sure that new operating systems are safe.”Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Günther H. Oettinger said: “Digital innovation is transforming the entire economy and in particular the financial services sector. It disrupts business models and value chains, leads to the emergence of new players and services. The Digital Single Market strategy aims at laying down an appropriate framework and enabling solutions concerning for instance electronic authentication or cybersecurity. Our ambition is to foster financial innovation while preserving financial stability and protecting consumers and investors.”
The European Commission has formally decided to establish a High Level Expert Group (HLEG) on sustainable finance and has, as a first step, launched a call for the expression of interest for members of this group. The decision builds on the Commission’s goal to develop an overarching and comprehensive EU strategy on sustainable finance as part of the Capital Markets Union. The Commission committed to moving ahead on this issue in the Communication on accelerating implementation of the Capital Markets Union (CMU). Sustainable investment is broadly understood as encompassing environmental, social and governance considerations in the investment process. Capital markets and private sources will play an essential role in mobilising investment in sustainable technologies, applications and infrastructure, and in helping the European Union meet its climate and environment objectives. Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: “The European Union is pushing for a global transition towards a more sustainable economy. The work we are doing on sustainable finance within the Capital Markets Union is part of this. We’ve made a start by supporting market initiatives such as green bonds. We’re looking at ways to encourage institutional investors to have more sustainable investment policies. We want to see what more can be done to support the transition to a low-carbon economy in the financial sector. Our Expert Group will help shape this crucial policy agenda.” The HLEG will be composed of up to 20 senior experts coming from civil society, the business community and other non-public sector institutions. Interested individuals are invited to submit their application by 25 November 2016. The selection of the group’s members will be carried out next month and the HLEG will start its work in January 2017.
Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, is in New York City today. He is delivering the keynote speech to Board Members of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and visiting the New York Stock Exchange. The Vice-President will meet Jeffrey Sprecher, Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange and William C. Dudley, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Vice-President Dombrovskis will then travel from New York to Washington where he will participate in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group Annual Meetings. He will also hold a series of bilateral meetings and give a keynote speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
In support of the reform agenda in Ukraine,Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Hahn are currently in the country where they will meet key interlocutors including President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman. Vice-President Dombrovskis will also meet Deputy Prime Minister Ivanna Klympush-Tsyntsadze, Minister of Finance Oleksandr Danylyuk and Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, Valeriya Gontareva. On the agenda will be discussions on economic and financial cooperation between the EU and Ukraine, the EU’s macro-financial assistance to Ukraine, fiscal policy and public finance management, as well as the reform of Ukraine’s State Fiscal Service. Commissioner Hahn will meet Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin as well as local authorities and civil society representatives. Discussions will include Ukraine’s progress across a range of reform commitments. In addition, the Commissioner will visit EU funded reform programmes. – Vice-President and Commissioner will also deliver speeches at the Yalta European Strategy Conference (YES). Videos and photos of the visits of both Commissioners will be available on EbS.
The European Commission welcomes today’s Council decisions on Spain and Portugal in the context of the Stability and Growth Pact. These decisions follow entirely the Commission’s recommendations of 27 July. Following its decision on 12 July that Spain and Portugal did not take effective action to correct their excessive deficits, the Council has now cancelled the fines for both countries and has set new fiscal paths to each of them, as recommended by the Commission. Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, said: “Today, following the Commission’s recommendations, the EU finance ministers decided to cancel financial fines for Spain and Portugal. They also confirmed the new budgetary adjustment paths for both countries. Effective action by Spain and Portugal will be a necessary condition to lift the suspension of commitments under the European Structural and Investment Funds.” Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “Today’s decisions reflect an intelligent application of the Stability and Growth Pact. By giving more time to Spain and Portugal to bring their public deficits below 3%, the Council sets new credible fiscal trajectories, which will contribute to strengthening both their economies and the euro area. Stability and Growth require a strong determination to put public finances in order. I trust that Spain and Portugal will respond accordingly to the collective decisions by the Commission and the Council. The Commission will assess the action taken by Spain and Portugal in the coming months in the context of both the Excessive Deficit Procedure and the analysis of the Draft Budgetary Plans for 2017”.
The European Commission will today come back to the fiscal situations of Spain and Portugal. Commission Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Moscovici will be in the press room, following the read-out of the College meeting by First Vice-President Timmermans, to present an update based on the recommendations that will be adopted by the College today. The event can also be followed live on EbS. A press release and memo will be available online from when the press conference begins.
Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue took over responsibilities of Commissioner Hill on 16 July and his visit to the United States will be in this new capacity. He will be in Washington on 18- 19 July. During his visit, the Vice-President will open the first Joint EU-US Financial Regulatory Forum together with the US Secretary of the Treasury, Jacob J. Lew. The forum is a new platform that aims to enhance regulatory co-operation between the EU and the US on financial matters. The Vice President will also hold bilateral meetings with Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve and Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF as well as representatives of US regulators. He will also meet industry representatives and deliver a keynote speech at the Atlantic Council at 19.00hrs CET on 18 July which will be webstreamed here
Tomorrow morning, Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioner Moscovici and Commissioner Hill will represent the European Commission at the Eurogroup meeting, where the agenda includes a discussion on Greece, a brief update on the fiscal surveillance and an exchange of views with the Chair of the Supervisory Board of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM). The Commission will also be represented in discussions related to national insolvency frameworks in the context of regular thematic discussions on growth and jobs. The meeting will be followed by a press conference. The informal ECOFIN meeting will start on Friday afternoon. Vice-President Georgieva, Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioner Moscovici and Commissioner Hill will represent the Commission at the different working sessions, which will focus on the EU budget challenges, the strengthening of the banking union, the fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance, including VAT Fraud, sustainable finance and discussion on simplifying the Stability and Growth Pact. More information on the agenda is available here. A first press conference will take place at the end of Friday’s working sessions, followed by a second press conference which will take place at the end of the event on Saturday 23 April. The Commission will be represented in both press conferences.
The European Commission today presented an Action Plan setting out ways to reboot the current EU VAT system to make it simpler, more fraud-proof and business-friendly. Today’s Action Plan is the first step towards a single EU VAT area which is equipped to tackle fraud, to support business and help the digital economy and e-commerce. Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue said: “Today, we are starting a dialogue with the European Parliament and the Member States for a simpler and more fraud-proof VAT system in the EU. Every year, cross-border VAT fraud costs our Member States and tax payers about EUR 50 billion. At the same time, the administrative burden for small businesses is high and technical innovation poses new challenges for VAT collection. This Commission has already proposed clear measures to address corporate tax avoidance, and we will be equally decisive in tackling VAT fraud.” Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “VAT is a major source of tax revenue for EU Member States. Yet we face a staggering fiscal gap: the VAT revenues collected are €170 billion short of what they should be. This is a huge waste of money that could be invested on growth and jobs. It’s time to have this money back. We are also keen to grant Member States more autonomy on how to define their VAT reduced rates. Our Action Plan will deliver on each of these points.” For more information, see our full press material here. You can also watch Commissioner Moscovici‘s press conference here.