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[Check Against Delivery]
Vice-President of the European Commission and member of the Commission responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro
Speech by Vice-President Olli Rehn at the ECOFIN Press Conference
ECOFIN Press Conference
Luxembourg, 20 June 2014
Thank you Gikas. Dear friends, I will make three points, and can be rather brief.
First, I want to welcome the Council’s decision today to close the Excessive Deficit Procedure for a further six countries. This brings the total number of countries still in the corrective arm of the Stability and Growth Pact down to 11, from 24 three years ago. 3 years ago, we had 24 Members-states in the EDP, today 11 out of 28 Member-States. Our reformed fiscal rules, in other words, are working and delivering more sustainable public finances in Europe.
The second piece of good news today is the Council’s decision to recommend to Heads of State and Government that they endorse Lithuania’s accession to the euro next January. This is another important step towards having a ‘Baltic full house’ in the euro area, which I am confident is now at hand and will be very good news for Lithuanian citizens and for the euro area as a whole.
And third, I welcome today’s endorsement by the Ecofin Council of the country-specific recommendations, which the Commission put forward on 2 June. These recommendations together form a blueprint for reinforcing the recovery in growth and employment that is now underway in Europe, but which remains fragile. The recommendations that will now go EU leaders to be discussed at next week’s European Council contain in fact very, very few substantive changes compared to the Commission’s original proposals.
The current very benign market conditions are of course welcome after the turbulence of recent years – but they should not be taken as an excuse to reduce the momentum of reforms for growth and employment, which would go against the interests of European citizens.
Let me conclude by thanking the Greek Presidency – both Gikas and your predecessor Yannis Stournaras and the whole team of the Greek Presidency – on behalf of the Commission for the good cooperation these past six months in the Ecofin Council. This is also my last Ecofin Council after four and a half years representing the Commission in this role. The European economy has come a long way through a very deep crisis, which continues to cast a long shadow over our societies. Nonetheless, I believe we are today in a good position to build on what we have achieved together and to deliver a stronger and lasting recovery in growth and employment. Provided there is no complacency but instead we stay the course of economic reforms.
Thank you very much to all of you. I will miss you guys! Thank you