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Olli Rehn

Vice-President of the European Commission and member of the Commission responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro

Comments at the Informal Ecofin Council

Informal Ecofin Council – Press Conference – Bella Centre

Copenhagen, 30 March 2012

Following today's informal meeting of the Ecofin Council in Copenhagen, Vice-president of the European Commission Olli Rehn made the following comments:

Europe’s crisis response has recently made substantial progress in all its fronts, including financial stability, fiscal consolidation and growth-boosting structural reforms.

First, financial stability is improving, not least thanks to the actions undertaken by the ECB that prevented a credit crunch. The stabilization has been facilitated by the more sustainable solution reached on Greece and by the bold and decisive actions on fiscal and structural reforms in the Member States under particular market pressure, especially Italy and Spain. These reforms go in the right direction and are important to boost economic growth and employment.

Secondly, while Member States are making good progress in fiscal consolidation and economic reform, the new rules of economic governance have recently been successfully tested in the cases of Spain, Hungary and Belgium. This gives spine to fiscal rigour and paves the way for sustainable public finances, which is essential for sustainable growth and job creation.

Moreover, the programme countries are on track. Ireland and Portugal are delivering on their respective programmes. We are putting Greece's public finances on a sustainable path through a second programme that has a strong emphasis on sustainable growth and jobs, of course provided that there is unwavering implementation and political unity in Greece.

Spain is showing determination in its fiscal and structural policies. We listened carefully to the presentation by Minister De Guindos of the budget for 2012. I welcome that this confirms the 5.3% deficit target, which we agreed recently in the Eurogroup. The Commission intends to have a complete assessment of the upcoming budget by early next week, once we have received all the relevant information, including concerning the regions.

The unambiguous commitment of the Spanish Government to the 3% deficit target in 2013 is of paramount importance. I expect this will be substantiated soon by a convincing path of fiscal consolidation, in parallel to economic reforms that can bring a more sustainable growth model and more and better jobs for Spanish citizens and especially for young Spaniards.

Earlier today, the Eurogroup took the very significant decision to reinforce the euro area financial firewalls by raising the combined ceiling for the ESM/EFSF to 700 Bn euro. We are satisfied with this decision. All together, the euro area is mobilising an overall firewall of 800 Bn euro, more than 1 trillion US dollars.

I trust that today’s decision today will pave the way for an increase of the IMF resources by the IMF Spring meetings next month. The euro area Member States have already decided to commit additional 150 Bn euro for that purpose.

All in all, we are finally complementing the monetary union with a truly integrated economic union. This is essential to reinforce the confidence in the European economy among our international partners and all market participants.

Equally important, there is a wave of reforms going on in Europe that will improve the conditions for sustainable and more balanced growth and for job creation in the coming years.

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