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Brussels, 5 October 2011

Commissioner Rehn comments on the new rules for EU economic governance

The ECOFIN Council today reached a political agreement on the legislative package to reinforce EU's economic governance. This agreement follows last week's approval by the European Parliament.

Due to the delay in the work of the ECOFIN Council today in Luxembourg and the changes in the timing of the press conference, Commissioner Rehn was unable to share with the accredited media the following remarks, which can nevertheless be attributed to him.

"The legislative package approved today the ECOFIN Council and last week by the European Parliament is the cornerstone of an ever closer economic union of Europe. I am glad to note that the level of ambition of the package that I presented one year ago has been preserved. I thank and congratulate the Council and the Parliament for that. It is a very European and very responsible response.

These are powerful tools for fundamentally changing the way the Economic and Monetary Union is governed. These will enable us to ensure sustainable public finances, to preemptively address economic imbalances and to correct the looming problems before the risk spreads and the crisis is there.

The Commission will make full use of these tools. Mark my words: I will not hesitate to fully apply the new rules with rigor from the first day these tools enter into force, i.e. at the latest on 1st of January.

And I expect the Member States to play by the rules from now on, so that we do not have to face a similar crisis never again. Countries living beyond their means, the lack of economic reforms in the context of open markets, the building up of financial bubbles… The price we have paid is high, too high, and it should prevent us from falling again in the same traps.

This is particularly challenging, as 23 out of 27 Member States are currently under Excessive Deficit Procedures. Since June, increased market pressures and the clear signs of an economic slowdown have affected budgetary developments in the Member States. As a result of these factors, eight member States have adopted additional consolidation measures or plan to do so: Italy, Spain, Cyprus, France, Hungary, Slovenia, Lithuania and Czech Republic.

Vigilance and readiness to take appropriate and decisive action will be of essence for the coming months. Next month we shall assess whether effective action in meeting the fiscal targets has been taken by EU Member States, based on the revised numbers in our autumn forecast.

Beyond this major step forward, we should be open to considerably deepen our economic coordination and fiscal integration, not least in the euro area."

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