Thank you, Toomas and our media representatives.
First of all, I would like to welcome the Council Conclusions on Climate Finance.
As you know, the EU has pledged to lead the way in implementation the Paris Climate agreement and transition to a low-carbon economy.
But to succeed we need more capital for green and sustainable projects.
For example, to limit the increase in temperature to well below two degrees Celsius, we need an estimated €180 billion in additional yearly investment for the next couple of decades.
We share the view of Ministers that public climate finance will continue to play a significant role. However, this is not enough. We need a broader range of contributions. To achieve our goals, we need to increase the flow of the private capital in green and sustainable investment.
The private sector can become a key source of climate finance. Many firms are already working on this.
But in order to facilitate a systemic change, we need to change the investment culture altogether.
So early next year, the Commission will present a comprehensive strategy for sustainable and green finance in the EU.
We will look at, for example, EU-wide green labels and classification for green assets. It will also suggest integrating sustainability into the investment chain and credit ratings. We will also look into so-called 'green supporting factor'.
The members of our High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance are examining these and other avenues.
We will have the first exchange of views in the run up to their final report at the Paris Climate Summit on 12 December.
The Commission also presented our last week's proposal for the biggest reform of EU VAT rules in a quarter of a century moving towards a definitive VAT regime.
Around €50 billion - or €100 for each EU citizen – is estimated to be lost due to cross-border VAT fraud. Our reform would cut this fraud by 80%.
The Commission also updated ministers on the taxation of the digital economy. Following our Communication last month, EU leaders discussed this issue at the Tallinn Digital Summit where there was widespread agreement that the digital revolution requires a new approach on corporate taxation for the digitalised economy.
We also welcomed the formal green light from ministers today for new rules to ensure that businesses and citizens have access to a better system to resolve disputes related to the interpretation of treaties and to do so more swiftly and effectively. It will also cover issues related to double taxation which is a major obstacle for businesses, creating uncertainty, unnecessary costs and cash-flow problems. The new mechanism will apply for any disputes related to tax issues on income as of January next year.
Regarding the feedback on the 2017 European Semester, we are pleased to hear that this exercise has been improving in terms of political ownership, increased transparency and the quality of the information flow between the Commission and Member States. Ministers also consider that the Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) focus on the right policy priorities and most urgent reforms.
From the Commission's side, we will strive to further improve the process.
However, we also agree that the real success of the European Semester can only be measured against actual implementation of the reforms. As you know, the degree of implementation of CSRs still varies across countries and policy areas.
So maintaining the reform momentum is fundamental for creating more growth and jobs in Europe.