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Preparation of Economic and Finance Ministers Council, Brussels, 18 February

European Commission - MEMO/14/110   14/02/2014

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European Commission


Brussels, 14 February 2014

Preparation of Economic and Finance Ministers Council, Brussels, 18 February

The EU's Council of Economic and Finance (ECOFIN) Ministers will take place in Brussels on 18 February at 10.00. The European Commission will be represented by Olli Rehn, Vice President and Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, Michel Barnier, Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, and Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner responsible for taxation and customs union, audit and anti-fraud. A press conference is expected to take place after the meeting.

Single Resolution Mechanism (CH)

In October 2013, the Council gave the final green light to the Single Supervisory Mechanism (IP/12/953), the first leg of the Banking Union, which needs to be complemented by an integrated European resolution system for all countries participating in the banking union.

That is why the European Commission has proposed a Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) for the Banking Union on 10 July 2013 (IP/13/674), which includes a single resolution board and a single resolution fund so we can tackle a future bank crisis efficiently with minimal costs to taxpayers and the economy.

The SRM will apply the substantive rules of the draft Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (see IP/12/570 and MEMO/12/416) in a coherent and centralised way ensuring consistent decisions for the resolution of banks. At the December 2013 ECOFIN Council meeting, the Ministers agreed on a general approach thus giving a mandate to start the negotiations with the European Parliament (MEMO/13/1186).

During the upcoming ECOFIN, the Greek Presidency will inform Ministers of progress in the trilogue process with the European Parliament and hold a discussion with the aim to explore the possibility of a revised mandate for the Council.

The Ministers will also examine the state of play on the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Single Resolution Fund and discuss open issues.

Commissioner Barnier welcomes the efforts and commitment of the Greek Presidency to explore compromise solutions to achieve rapid agreement between the co-legislator on the SRM proposal. He welcomes Member States' overall support for an effective resolution mechanism for the Banking Union and looks forward to constructive and detailed discussion on Monday. The timetable is critical to allow finalising the legislative procedure before the end of the current term.

More information:

Annual Growth Survey 2014: Guidance on the implementation of priorities agreed at the December European Council on macroeconomic and fiscal matters (SOC)

The Commission adopted the fourth AGS in November and presented to the Economic and Finance Ministers in December last year.

The Annual Growth Survey (AGS) kick-starts the European Semester for economic policy coordination at the EU level (for more information please see IP/13/1064), which ensures that Member States align their budgetary and economic plans with the Stability and Growth Pact and the Europe 2020 Strategy.

The main message of the Annual Growth Survey 2014 is the importance of strengthening the recovery that is underway. The AGS 2014 maintains the same balanced strategy for growth and jobs while shifting emphasis to reflect the new challenges faced in the recovery phase. That is why the Commission considers that the five priorities outlined in 2013 AGS remain valid. These five priorities are:

  • pursuing differentiated growth-friendly fiscal consolidation;

  • restoring normal lending to the economy;

  • promoting growth and competitiveness for today and tomorrow;

  • tackling unemployment and the social consequences of the crisis;

  • and modernising public administration.

The European Council on 19/20 December agreed with the identified priorities. The Council continues discussions in the run up to the European Council on 20/21 March, which will issue guidelines for Member States' economic policies.

Alert Mechanism Report 2014 (SOC)

The Council will have an exchange of views and adopt conclusions on the Alert Mechanism Report, which kick-starts the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure (MIP) cycle in the context of the European Semester. The Commission published the Alert Mechanism Report in November 2013 and identified 16 EU Member States, where further analysis – (the so-called "In-Depth Review")- was warranted into the accumulating and unwinding macroeconomic imbalances. (MEMO/13/970). The next step of the MIP cycle is expected to be taken within the coming weeks with the publication of the In-Depth Review Reports.

Vice-President Olli Rehn said at the presentation of the AMR: "The Alert Mechanism Report is a screening device that looks at macroeconomic developments with the help of a scoreboard of agreed indicators. Based on an overall appreciation of the situation, some countries are selected for a more in-depth review. Only when these in-depth reviews are published next spring will we conclude whether imbalances exist at all, and if so, how serious they are. “

Preparation of G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Governors (Sydney, Australia, 22-23 February 2014) (SOC)

The ECOFIN Council will discuss the preparation of the G20 Finance Ministers' and Central Bank Governors' meeting in Sydney on 22-23 February. This meeting will be the first G20 Finance Ministerial meeting of the Australian G20 Presidency.

The EU in the G20 Finance Ministerial meetings is represented by the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the rotating EU Council Presidency. The Commission will present to the ECOFIN the main topics for the G20 meeting in Sydney.

The main themes on the agenda in Sydney will be the state of play of the global economy, the development of comprehensive growth strategies for the G20 for the summit in Brisbane in November, and ways to increase the financing of investment for infrastructure in the G20. Other items on the agenda are financial market regulation and tax issues. The ECOFIN Council will adopt the G20 Terms of Reference.

Discharge procedure in respect of the implementation of the budget for 2012 (ET)

EU Finance Ministers are expected to adopt a recommendation granting discharge to the Commission for the 2012 EU budget. The recommendation, which requires qualified majority in Council, is based on the Court of Auditors' report of 10 November 2011 (see IP/13/1028). The Council recommendation is an essential part of the budgetary discharge procedure as laid down by EU rules (Art 319 TFEU). Following its adoption, the recommendation will be presented to the European Parliament's budgetary control committee, and the final adoption of the discharge resolution will take place in the European Parliament plenary session.

Implementation of the Single Supervisory Mechanism -Report by the European Central Bank (CH)

The Regulation conferring specific supervisory tasks on the ECB and establishing the Single Supervisory Mechanism (Council Regulation EU 1024/2013) entered into force on 3 November 2013. The ECB will fully carry out its supervisory powers as of 4 November 2014. In the meantime, the ECB is actively preparing to take up its new role of supervisor. The ECB is currently carrying out a comprehensive assessment of all banks which will be under its direct supervision and the balance sheets of those banks. In parallel it is recruiting high quality supervisory staff and building up a new supervisory structure that integrates national supervisors before it commences its activities.

The SSM regulation requires the ECB to send a quarterly report to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission on progress in the operational implementation of the SSM Regulation. The ECB will present its first quarterly report to the Council next Tuesday.

Commissioner Barnier will welcome the significant progress made over the last months which allow for a smooth transition to the new supervisory regime, and the close cooperation between the EBA and the ECB in the preparation of the stress test exercise.

More information:

The report is available from the ECB website:

Other issues

Current legislative proposals

The Council will take note of current legislative proposals.

Enormous progress has been made in recent weeks to find compromises on a whole raft of legislative procedures which ensure that we are learning all the lessons of the financial crisis and implementing the G20 commitments. The following weeks will be crucial to finalise those compromise amendments and reach agreement on outstanding files in particular on:

Deposit Guarantee Schemes (DGS)

An agreement was reached on 17 December 2013 in trilogue between the European Parliament, EU Member States and the Commission on the bank recovery and resolution directive (see MEMO/13/1176).

Banking Recovery and Resolution (BRRD)

An agreement was reached in trilogue on 12 December 2013 between the European Parliament, EU Member States and the Commission on the bank recovery and resolution directive (see MEMO/13/1140). This political agreement is subject to technical finalisation and formal approval by the co-legislators.

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