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European Commission

Olli REHN

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

World economic situation and prospects in the wake of the financial and economic crisis

Special High Level Meeting of the Economic and Social Council with the Bretton Woods Institutions, the World trade Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development - New York

22 April 2013

Mr President, Secretary General,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to participate in this Special High Level Meeting of ECOSOC with the Bretton Woods Institutions, WTO and UNCTAD to discuss the world economic situation and its prospects. I very much appreciate this opportunity to exchange views and experiences, assess progress made and reflect on our policies, taking into account the interest of all countries and, in particular the most vulnerable, and our shared commitment to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Our recent discussions at the G20 and IMF meetings in Washington showed that there is a broad consensus on the policy agenda for sustainable growth and job creation, to tackle the common challenges we face. The global economy has avoided tail risks and financial market conditions continue to improve. But the recovery remains uneven and progress is at different speeds.

Unfortunately, historical evidence suggests that economic recoveries after financial crises tend to be particularly slow and sluggish. And this appears to hold true this time as well.

In Europe, our overriding objective is to create the conditions for sustainable growth, and we are working hard on many fronts to achieve that objective: through structural reforms to boost competitiveness and job creation; financial sector repair to get credit flowing again; and consistent fiscal consolidation, where necessary and at a pace that is appropriate for each country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The challenges that we must address, such as sustainable growth and fiscal sustainability, are shared by many global partners. That’s why greater coordination of policies is essential. Creating momentum and giving direction on global economic issues requires a forum with effective decision-making capabilities. The European Union will do its part to move the G20 agenda forward including its outreach to ‘G193’, with developing countries and stronger interaction with the UN.

Even in times of crisis, the EU does not forget its responsibilities towards those more in need. We remain the world’s largest donor of development assistance, with more than half of the global share. We need to give an additional impetus on the implementation of the MDGs and prepare a post-2015 framework that links the eradication of poverty with sustainable development.

The European Union is a firm promoter of effective multilateralism and a supporter of the fundamental role of the UN system in global governance. It is indeed a founding principle of the EU, in the words of the Lisbon Treaty, to "promote multilateral solutions to common problems, in particular in the framework of the United Nations".

The EU favours an enhanced cooperation between the UN and the G20, with a view to enabling the UN system to better tackle emerging global issues. Our commitment in this regard was confirmed by President Barroso's presence at the UN last week for the thematic debate on 'The UN and Global Economic Governance'.

The global financial crisis has highlighted the need for multilateral institutions that can manage our interdependence in today’s multi-polar world. The EU welcomes the efforts made by the Bretton Woods institutions to respond and adapt to new realities in global economic governance. We encourage the IMF and the World Bank to move forward in this direction and to enhance their engagements and collaboration with the United Nations system.

The EU also remains committed to the WTO and the Doha Development Agenda recognising that open economies and free international trade are essential for the global recovery.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me conclude: Correcting the problems of the past and setting the world economy on a path of sustainable growth is a shared responsibility of all of us, including international organisations. We all share the need to put in place policies that will get us ahead of the crisis and prevent its recurrence. I am very much looking forward to hearing your views on how we could all together contribute to the on-going global recovery.

Thank you.


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