Commissioner Moscovici will represent the European Commission at today’s meeting of the Eurogroup. At the Eurogroup, ministers will take stock of the progress regarding the second review of the stability support programme for Greece. Ministers will also follow up on the implementation of Draft Budgetary Plans and the budgetary situation in the euro area as a whole. As part of the thematic discussions on jobs and growth, ministers will hold a discussion on pension sustainability in the euro area. Finally, ministers will report on national debt issuance plans to the Commission and to the Eurogroup. Commissioner Moscovici will participate in the press conference following the meeting. At tomorrow’s ECOFIN, the Commission will be represented by Vice-President Dombrovskis, Vice-President Katainen and Commissioner Moscovici. Ministers will discuss the way forward on the proposal for reduced VAT rates for e-books and other e-publications, part of the Commission’s VAT Action Plan. Views will also be exchanged on the proposal for a VAT ‘reverse charge’ mechanism. If adopted, this proposal would allow Member States to temporarily derogate from the VAT system currently in force across the EU, under strict conditions. As part of the European Semester the Council will discuss the country reports issued by the Commission in February, while ministers are expected to adopt a recommendation on the economic policies of the euro area for 2017. The outcome of the weekend’s G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Baden-Baden will also be discussed. Vice-President Katainen will make a presentation on the European Defence Fund and ministers will be brought up to date on the state of play of current legislative proposals in the field of financial services. A press conference with Vice-President Dombrovskis will follow the meeting.
On 28 November, Commissioner Moscovici will visit Athens to take stock of the progress made in the implementation of the Greek programme ahead of the next Eurogroup meeting. Commissioner Moscovici will deliver a keynote speech at the 27th Annual Conference on the Greek Economy, organised by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce. During his visit, Commissioner Moscovici will have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. He will also discuss the Greek programme with Euclid Tsakalotos, Minister of Finance, with Dimos Papadimitiou, Minister of Economy and Development, and with Efi Ahtsioglou, Minister of Labour, Social Insurance and Social Security. On 29 November, Commissioner Moscovici will hold a press point at the EC representation in Athens, which will be webstreamed live on EbS as from 10:15 CET. During his visit, he will also meet with representatives of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises, including its Chairman, Mr Theodoros Fessas, and will visit Geraka’s Primary School, which benefits from EU funding under the JESSICA programme. Ahead of this visit, Commissioner Moscovici said: “With this third visit to Athens, I intend to lend my support to the ongoing intensive work between the institutions and the Greek authorities. I am convinced that an agreement on the second review of the ESM programme is within our reach.”
Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Union, Pierre Moscovici is today heading to London, where he will give a keynote speech at the “Best of British” conference organised by JP Morgan this afternoon. In the margins of the conference, he will meet former UK Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair, before attending a dinner hosted by the Centre for European Reform and TheCityUK. Tomorrow, Commissioner Moscovici will take part in a Policy Network lunchtime seminar, in conversation with former European Commissioner, Mr Peter Mandelson. He will then have a bilateral meeting with Mr Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The European Commission is forging ahead with work to draw up a first common EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions by presenting a pre-assessment (‘scoreboard of indicators’) of all third countries according to key indicators. It is now for EU Member States to choose which countries should be screened more fully over the next months so as to accurately pinpoint the countries which do not play by the rules when it comes to taxation. Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs said: “The EU takes its international tax good governance commitments seriously. It is reasonable for us to expect the same from our international partners. We want to have fair and open discussions with our partners on tax issues that concern us all in the global community. The EU list will be our tool to deal with third countries that refuse to play fair.” In January 2016, the Commission launched a three-step process for establishing the common EU list as part of its broader agenda to curb tax evasion and avoidance. A common EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions will carry much more weight than the current patchwork of national lists when dealing with non-EU countries that refuse to comply with international tax good governance standards. An EU list will also prevent aggressive tax planners from abusing mismatches between the different national systems. The aim is to publish the definitive list of non-cooperative jurisdictions by the end of 2017
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.
Commissioner Moscovici will represent the European Commission at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting on 22-24 July in Chengdu, China. The agenda of the ministerial meetings includes discussions on the Global Economy, a Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth, Financial Sector Reform, the International Financial Architecture, Investment and Infrastructure as well as International Taxation issues. Green finance, Climate finance and Anti-terrorist Financing will be also covered by the ministerial working sessions. In addition to the ministerial meetings, a G20 high-level Tax Symposium on tax Policy opportunities for Strong, Sustained and balanced Growth will take place on 23 July. Referring to the agenda, Commissioner Moscovici said: “Chengdu will host the first G20 Finance Ministers’ meeting after the UK referendum, which has triggered an increase in economic uncertainty as well as financial market volatility. To mitigate the impact of this uncertainty, we need to continue our focus on jobs and growth, delivering the right mix of reforms, investment and smart fiscal policies. In these circumstances it is more important than ever that the G20 acts on its commitment to use all available tools to support growth.” The discussion in Chengdu will constitute an important step towards the G20 Hangzhou Leaders’ Summit on 4-5 September.
Commissioner Moscovici is in Athens today to discuss progress made in implementing the full range of fiscal and structural measures that have been adopted by Greece. He will meet with Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister, Giorgos Stathakis, Minister of the Economy, Development and Tourism, Euclid Tsakalotos Minister of Finance, Giorgos Katrougalos, Minister of Labour and Social Security and Giorgos Houliarakis, Alternate Finance Minister. Commissioner Moscovici will also address the Standing Committee of Economic Affairs, the Standing Committee of Production and Trade and the Special Standing Committee of European Affairs of the Hellenic Parliament and exchange views with the members of the Parliament. The Commissioner’s address to the Parliament, which will also be available in Greek, will be published here. Ahead of this visit, Commissioner Moscovici said: “This month marks one year from the important agreement reached last summer. With this second visit to Athens, I intend to lend my support to a rebuilding in confidence in the Greek economy and implementation of the structural reforms essential to deliver a strong and lasting recovery in Greece. Thanks to the cooperative process that the Commission has built with the Greek authorities, I am fully confident that we will meet the remaining challenges ahead of us.” Video coverage of Commissioner Moscovici‘s joint press conference with Finance Minister Tsakalotos will be available on EbS. In particular, his joint press conference with Finance Minister Tsakalotos, at the EC representation in Athens, will be live-streamed at 14:15 CET.
Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Union, travels to Berlin this morning where he is delivering the opening speech of the Berliner Steuergespräche tax conference, co-organised by the Federation of German Industries (BDI). He will then visit the Präsidium of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) before attending the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Conference with around 600 young people. European Parliament President Martin Schulz will also be in attendance. Later in the afternoon, the Commissioner will meet with Mr Wolfgang Schäuble, Federal Minister of Finance. Also scheduled is a meeting with German parliamentary members of the EU, Finance and Budget Committees. This evening, the Commissioner will attend a high-level dinner with German trade union and business leaders. Tomorrow morning he will breakfast with Mr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany
In a heated debate about the state of play of the Greek macro-economic adjustment programme, the centre-left parties S&D, GUE, Greens/EFA, but also the conservative ECR, warned Greece’s creditors and the IMF not to impose more reforms on the country and advocated debt relief. Some MEPs attacked the IMF for being too tough on reforms whereas the centre-right EPP underlined the need for them.
Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre MOSCOVICI gave a positive debrief after Monday’s Eurogroup meeting, saying that Greece is expected to return to growth in the second half of 2016 and to a deficit of less than 3% in 2017. He expects an agreement at the Eurogroup’s 24 May meeting on the reforms and the contingency mechanism (to assure the primary surplus of 3.5% by 2018), so that the disbursements under the programme can continue. The second step would then be to start talks about debt relief, repeating that nominal haircuts are “a red line”.
Click on the hyperlinks below to review the full statement of the first speakers on behalf of the political groups:
EPP leader Manfred WEBER (DE) criticised Prime Minister Tsipras. Referring to the 0.7% growth figure in 2014, he blamed the Tsipras government for slipping below zero growth in 2015 and “harming the country”. He took Ireland as an example of a programme country that recovered as a result of reforms.
S&D leader Gianni PITTELLA (IT) said that the problem is not Athens, but the IMF with its policy of preventive austerity. “If they continue to sabotage an agreement, we have to go it alone”, he said.
ECR’s Notis MARIAS labelled the Greek programme as “violent and leading to a social Armageddon”.
ALDE’s Sylvie GOULARD (FR) said too many issues are being pushed toward 2018 because of the UK’s EU referendum and elections in other countries and that it bears the risk of losing control over the adjustment programmes.
GUE’s Dimitrios PAPADIMOULIS criticised EPP leader Manfred Weber for his attack on Mr Tsipras: “He did not create the Greek debt. The Greek people voted for him and want to keep him as their Prime Minister.”
Green leader Philippe LAMBERTS (BE) said he did not share the optimism after yesterday’s euro group meeting on Greece: “The austerity of its creditors and the IMF is socially unacceptable. That’s too high a price to pay.”
Steven WOOLFE (EFDD, UK) blamed the Eurogroup and the IMF for high unemployment and suicide rates in Greece and encouraged the Greeks “to leave the EU like the UK will do on 23 June.”
Marcel DE GRAAFF (ENF, NL) said Greece is bankrupt and urged “to close the tap, to scrap the euro and return to the drachma”.