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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Remarks by Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis at the ECOFIN press conference

Brussels, 17 June 2016

Thank you Jeroen,

Let me first commend you and your staff for the tremendous effort the presidency has done in finding a consensus on a number of complex files. This has been indeed a very efficient and results-oriented Presidency, and it is not over yet. There is still work to be finalised.

EMU DEEPENING

Today we covered a number of files. I will start with questions related to EMU deepening. It is now almost a year since the publication of the Five Presidents' Report.

Today we took stock of where we are in terms of implementation and took a number of steps forward on completing the Economic and Monetary Union – with an emphasis on Stage 1 of the Five Presidents' Report.

To recall, the European Council last December asked for a state of play on completing Europe's Economic and Monetary Union for its Summit in June.

The political context for this is not easy. A number of crises we have to handle.

But we all agreed that we need to continue to work on deepening the EMU. We need to restart convergence in and amongst euro area countries and make our Economic and Monetary Union more resilient.

As noted today, we continue to move forward:

First, we welcome the Council's agreement on a draft recommendation on the establishment of National Productivity Boards within the euro area. The Commission's initial proposal was on National Competitiveness Boards, but we think that the compromise agreement which was reached is a good agreement. We encourage Member States to move forward and give those National Productivity Boards also as prominent role in evaluating national reform agendas.

Second, to strengthen the euro area's voice on the global stage, particularly in the IMF, the ECOFIN Council has agreed to improve coordination among euro area Member States to establish common positions. From the Commission side we recalled that more progress on this is necessary.

Third, the agreed roadmap on the Banking Union is a welcome signal showing Ministers' determination to implement and complete the Banking Union.

Our proposal on a European Deposit Insurance Scheme is, as you know, a sensitive but a necessary third building block of the Banking Union - after bank supervision and resolution.

The way to move forward is to make sure that risk-sharing goes hand in hand with risk-reduction. This is clearly reflected in the roadmap. The Commission will come with further proposals on risk reduction before the end of the year, on TLAC and the CRD/CRR. On EDIS itself, we are not yet there and further work is necessary. We look forward to working closely with the upcoming Slovak Presidency and the European Parliament on this issue in the months ahead.

Finally, we welcome agreement on some further elements of the Capital Markets Union.

To mention just one of them, the revised prospectus directive, will make it easier, quicker and cheaper for businesses to raise money on the markets, while making sure investors get the information they need.

CSRs

Today ECOFIN also discussed the Country-Specific Recommendations, proposed by the Commission on 18 May.

These Recommendations have been more focused and targeted at the main socio-economic challenges member states are facing. We now issue fewer CSRs: this year only 89, to compare with more than 150 two years ago.

The focus on the social dimension is stronger than before. And we have paid even more attention to preparatory dialogues with national governments, parliaments, social partners and stakeholders. 

This package will now go to EU leaders at the European Council.

I have argued for this time and again, throughout the exercise of deepening EMU, only consistent implementation of the decisions already taken can provide us with the necessary credibility to advance towards more far-reaching measures.

Ministers also adopted the Commission's proposal to take Cyprus, Slovenia and Ireland out of Excessive Deficit Procedure and we have to acknowledge significant adjustment efforts those countries have done in order to reach this stage.

ANTI-TAX AVOIDANCE PACKAGE

After a lot of work, there is an agreement in principle on the Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive. Most of the outstanding issues have been resolved in very fruitful discussions. Some of the elements still must be confirmed by Belgian and Czech governments.

The Directive, which will hopefully be adopted on Monday, will shut down many of the channels most commonly used by aggressive tax planners to minimise their tax bills.

This is why the Commission gives its full support to the Dutch Presidency in reaching the agreement on this legislation.   

The compromise which was fleshed out today goes a very long way to accommodate Member States' concerns. But for the Commission is crucial that there is a clear date by when common rules need to apply to everybody to fully implement the OECD BEPS standards. We have been emphasising many times that Europe wants to be in a leading position in the fight against tax avoidance and also in implementing global standards.

ANTI-TERRORISM FINANCING

Lastly, we discussed fight against terrorism financing.

The Commission has a wide range of proposals to counter the global threat of terrorism – from the European Agenda on Security presented in April last year to the proposal to limit the access to automatic weapons last week.

Detecting and halting financial flows to terrorism is a part of that effort.

The Commission will make a proposal on the revised Anti-Money Laundering Directive on 5 July.

We are committed to making progress on this file rapidly and we look forward to working with the upcoming Slovak Presidency.

Thank you.

SPEECH/16/2252

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