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Brussels, 8 November 2011
Press points Vice President Olli Rehn
Press Conference following ECOFIN Council meeting
While we are indeed moving forward to strengthen economic governance in the EU, it is important to strictly and fully implement what we have already at our disposal in terms of economic surveillance. This is also key to reinforce confidence among the general public and market participants.
I expect the so-called "six-pack" to enter into force by mid December and, mark my words: I intend to fully implement the new rules from Day One. In fact, even before that date, I very much envisage the monitoring mission that the Commission is currently carrying out for Italy as an illustration of the implementation of the six-pack method.
This is first and foremost about safeguarding financial stability in the euro area and in the EU by exerting preventive and effective surveillance, according to the rules we have democratically given ourselves.
Let me be very blunt on this: It's either the EU institutions, according to our own rules, procedures and democratic accountability, or the market forces that will do the job. For me, as a committed European and a committed democrat, the choices are clear.
The strengthened Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) puts more emphasis on debt and we will extend our surveillance to macroeconomic imbalances. Our crisis response is not only about austerity: it must go hand in hand with economic reforms to improve competitiveness, lift our growth potential and create more and better jobs.
I will elaborate more on that on Thursday when I will present our Autumn economic forecast which, I can tell you, will clearly show that there is no room for complacency.
Today we also had a good discussion on the "scoreboard" to measure and prevent the kind of macroeconomic imbalances that have been hampering the European economy and which were one of the main causes of the sovereign debt crisis.
Of course our crisis response relies on the full implementation of the ambitious agreements at the euro summit of 26-27 October. Both our citizens our G20 partners and the markets expect that this plan will be effectively implemented. It is a solid plan to face the crisis, a sustainable solution for Greece, a reinforcement of the EFSF firepower to prevent contagion, necessary bank recapitalization, as well as strong commitments by Italy monitored by the Commission and the IMF.
On Greece, the formation of a coalition government of national unity is in the making. It is indeed essential that the new government gives explicit and unequivocal commitment in writing to all the decisions taken by the Seventeen on October 27. The 6th tranche could then be disbursed once there is full clarity about the commitments and the second programme. But it should be clear in Athens that solidarity is a two-way street and we expect a united political class to carry out its part of responsibilities in this plan.
Concerning Italy, Giulio Tremonti yesterday provided us further details on the plan to meet their fiscal targets and step-up economic reforms. Commission sent a questionnaire to Rome last Friday and our monitoring mission will start to work in Rome tomorrow. I will present our assessment to the Eurogroup later this month. This is just the first step in the enhanced monitoring of Italy by the Commission. Regular reviews will be made to track progress with implementation of the reforms.