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MEMO/11/163

Brussels, 14 March 2011

Preparation of Eurogroup and Economic and Finance Ministers Council, 14 and 15 March 2011

Eurogroup

The Eurogroup meeting will start on Monday 14 March at 11h00. This meeting will follow-up on the important decisions taken at last Friday's eurozone summit. It will be attended by Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn. A press conference is expected to take place after the meeting, on Monday evening

ECOFIN 15 March

The Council of Economic and Finance Ministers will start at 10h00. It will be attended by Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, and Commissioner for and Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier. A press conference is expected to take place after the meeting.

Economic governance: legislative package, euro-area issues (AAT)

The Commission is fully convinced that the proposals it put forward provide a balanced approach between ambition and realism, between keeping what worked and making changes where necessary, between introducing automaticity where possible and keeping discretion where necessary. It is the delivery instrument for sustainable public finances and for stronger competitiveness in Europe. It is an effective framework for country surveillance and enforcement of the rules.

Ministers are expected to agree on a general approach, which will be the basis for negotiations with the Parliament.

Background: On 29 September 2010, the European Commission brought forward a legislative package which represents the most comprehensive reinforcement of economic governance in the EU and the euro area since the launch of the Economic and Monetary Union (IP/10/1199 and MEMO/10/454, MEMO/10/455 and MEMO/10/456). Broader and enhanced surveillance of fiscal policies, but also macroeconomic policies and structural reforms are proposed together with new enforcement mechanisms for Member States that deviate from their commitments.

The legislative package - currently on the table of the Council and the European Parliament - is made up of six pieces of legislation: four proposals deal with fiscal issues, including a wide-ranging reform of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), while two new regulations aim at detecting and addressing effectively emerging macroeconomic imbalances, competitiveness gaps, within the EU and the euro area. For Member States of the euro area, changes imply giving more teeth to the Pact through an effective enforcement mechanism. The proposed rules limit discretion in the application of sanctions: the SGP will become more "rules based" and sanctions will be the normal consequence to expect for countries in breach of their commitments.

Climate finance (AAT)

Finance Ministers will discuss and adopt council conclusions on international financial aspects of climate change, as a follow-up to the conference of the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change in Cancún last December. Main issues for discussion are the implementation of EU fast-start climate finance between 2010 and 2012, potential sources of revenue for scaling up international climate financing in developing countries to US$ 100 billion per year by 2020, and the preparatory work required for establishing the Green Climate Fund.

Regulation on Short Selling and certain aspects of Credit Default Swaps (CH)

Background: on 15 September 2010 the Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation on short selling and certain aspects of Credit Default Swaps (CDS). Its main objectives are to create a harmonised framework for coordinated action at European level, increase transparency and reduce risks. The new framework will mean that regulators, both national and European, have clear powers to act when necessary, whilst preventing market fragmentation and ensuring the smooth functioning of the Internal Market (see IP/10/1126 & IP/10/1125)

The proposal is currently under discussion for adoption at the European Parliament and Council. Once adopted, the regulation would apply from 1 July 2012.

More information: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/securities/short_selling_en.htm

AOB

a) Progress on financial reform (CH)

Commissioner Barnier will present the progress made on financial reform until now. On 2nd of June 2010 the Commission launched a programme of reforms (IP/10/656) which implements the decisions taken by the G20 and aims at tackling more structural issues in the financial sector, with four main objectives.

Firstly, better regulation of the financial sector, in order to strengthen and extend the financial services rulebook and ensure an appropriate functioning of markets and institutions.

Secondly, better supervision, creating a consistent and effective supervisory and control structure for financial operators and markets in Europe.

Thirdly, greater consumer and investor protection in order in particular to restore confidence in the financial sector. Fourthly, the setting of appropriate mechanisms for crisis management to ensure that failing banks can be wound-up in an orderly way without costs for taxpayers nor disruptions for the financial system and the economy as a whole.

All the remaining texts of the reform will be adopted by the Commission during 2011; other proposals are under negotiation in the Council and Parliament.

The overall objective of the financial reform is to put the conditions in place to restore the financial sector to its primary social function of supporting long-term job creation and the real economy in the EU.

More information:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finances/news/index_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finances/docs/110209_progress_report_financial_issues_en.pdf

b) G20 meeting of Finance Ministers & Governors (Paris, 18-19/2/2011)

The French Presidency to the G20, the EU Presidency and Commissioner Rehn will debrief ministers on main results of the G20 Finance Ministers and Governors meeting in Paris, and the next steps.


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