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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Commissioner Moscovici's introductory remarks at the Eurogroup press conference

Brussels, 6 November 2017

Je vais reprendre ces points rapidement. Je me réjouis que l'Eurogroupe ait discuté aujourd'hui des investissements dans le capital humain et l'innovation. Depuis longtemps je réclame une attention majeure à des réformes dans une période de reprise qui sont différentes de celles prises en temps de cris. C'est ce que j'appelle les réformes structurelles de deuxième génération - et c'est précisément de ceci qu'il est question. Nous avons besoin de réformes qui soutiennent la croissance et la productivité. 

Car si nous voulons aider nos citoyens à faire face aux défis tels que la numérisation et la transformation technologique de nos économies, ça c'est une conclusion qui a été partagée par tous. Il faut faciliter leur accès à une éducation et une formation de qualité. C'est la seule manière d'avoir une croissance plus inclusive et une société à la fois plus innovante et plus équitable.

Nous avons assisté ces dernières années à une forte augmentation du nombre d'étudiants dans nos pays mais il reste du chemin à parcourir pour augmenter la qualité de l'éducation et l'inclusivité de nos systèmes éducatifs. Et cela passe par une combinaison de réformes et d'investissement : par une dépense publique plus efficace et mieux ciblée. Cette discussion, qui va alimenter le travail de la Commission dans le cadre du semestre européen, a donc été très utile et bienvenue !

J'ai aussi informé l'Eurogroupe cet après-midi de l'état d'avancement de la troisième revue du programme grec.

Des progrès importants ont été réalisés lors de la mission qui a eu lieu fin octobre, pendant laquelle tous les acteurs se sont engagés de manière constructive, à la fois du côté des institutions et des autorités grecques. Des travaux techniques sont en cours pour peaufiner les détails et préparer le terrain pour la prochaine mission, qui aura lieu à la fin de ce mois de novembre. Notre objectif est d'atteindre un accord d'ici la fin de l'année, plus tôt si possible. Il y a toutes les raisons de croire que cet objectif est réaliste.

I believe that all parties are convinced of the importance of moving towards the conclusion of the programme next summer in as smooth a manner as possible. That is how Greece will rebuild the confidence of investors, which it so clearly needs in order to safeguard and strengthen the recovery and turn a new page after this long, difficult chapter in its history. And the first step towards such a smooth conclusion of the programme is the smooth – and swift – conclusion of the third review. We are all convinced that this should, in the best case scenario, happen before the end of this year.

Concerning our second set of discussions this afternoon, I have little to add to what has been said.

I want first to welcome the fact that we discussed the future of EMU in an “inclusive format”, of 27. Because this debate is of course, first for euro area countries but concerns all Member States, however near or far the day may be when they will join the euro. The conviction of the Commission is that the future of the euro is Europe, the future of Europe is the euro.

We discussed two of the key areas of this debate today: first, completing the banking union; and second, establishing a fiscal capacity and possibly simplifying our fiscal rules.

Concerning the Banking Union, there was a lot of support for the idea of establishing a backstop for the Single Resolution Fund and to have this provided by the ESM.

As regards the fiscal discussion, the Commission is convinced that a properly designed, adequately sized fiscal capacity could transform the euro area's ability to cope with deep shocks and avoid the sort of financial instability we experienced during the last crisis. Such an instrument would be able to top up national fiscal stabilisers, whether by supporting public investment or complementing national unemployment schemes. In our view we should work to establish a fiscal capacity that would obey three principles. It must be  economically meaningful, of a significant size. It must be politically viable, accepted by all and to be institutionally robust, having democratic accountability which is strong enough.

As regards our fiscal rules, the fact that we have moved from 24 countries in the corrective arm of the Pact in 2011 to, I hope, none in 2018, testifies to the effectiveness of our framework. We can say that the Pact works well. We can expect good results on Thursday when I present the forecast of the Commission. At the same time, it is clear that making our rules smarter has also meant making them more complex. There is no simple solution to the dilemma of how to render our rules more understandable while ensuring they remain sufficiently intelligent, but we are of course ready to continue this discussion and we need to do so. The role of the Commission as far as budget surveillance is concerned has been fully confirmed by the fact that nobody spoke against that. That means it is globally accepted.

Overall I think we had a very wide-ranging and constructive debate this evening, which will be useful in helping us to move forward in the coming weeks and months. Ahead of the euro summit next month. As you know, the Commission will flesh out its ideas on the future of EMU. We will deliver a package of proposals in early December. We are now at a critical moment in this debate. The crisis is clearly behind us. Growth is there. There is much less political uncertainty in the air than even six months ago. We have a window of opportunity. Our deep conviction is that we must seize this opportunity.  

SPEECH/17/4406

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