Vladis Dombrovskis – Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue
Brussels, ECOFIN press conference
Ladies, Gentlemen, Dear Colleagues,
First of all, I would like to start by congratulating Italy for a very well-run Presidency.
We had good discussions today with the Ministers not only on the Investment Plan but also on the overall economic policy priorities.
According to our last Economic Forecast, all 28 EU Member States are expected to have positive growth next year. But there is a risk that low growth might persist in the environment of low inflation and high unemployment.
We need to act against this background. The Commission has set out the economic policy priorities in its Annual Growth Survey. We call for targeted investment, ambitious structural reforms and fiscal responsibility.
Achieving sustainable growth and job creation is the responsibility of all of us: the European and national policy makers, as well as social partners.
But the main responsibility for structural reforms lies with the Member States.
The importance of structural reforms for growth and job creation cannot be overstated. Measures to improve business environment, market functioning, public administration and cutting red tape are the best preconditions for investment to rebound.
The return to sustained growth in Europe requires not only structural changes, but also fiscal responsibility.
In that respect, I welcome the two agreements reached by the Council today on measures against tax avoidance.
Several Member States are at risk of non-compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact. These countries, including France, Italy and Belgium, need to take measures to address this situation. We will revisit the situation in early March, when we will have the new economic forecast projections and the results of the In-Depth Review of macroeconomic imbalances. All procedural options are open at this stage.
The European fiscal framework, the Stability and Growth Pact, is not an obstacle to structural reforms. The fiscal costs of many structural reforms are limited but reforms are often difficult from political point of view. A crucial enabler in this respect is the efficient and constructive dialogue with social partners.
I have also informed the Ministers on the key strands of work regarding further work both on our governance framework and strengthening of EMU:
- Commission has started working on guidance as to the use of the flexibility within the Stability and Growth Pact. We expect to present it in early 2015;
- The discussion will continue, with the European Parliament and the Council, on the review of Six Pack and Two Pack legislation, which was also presented to the ECOFIN council today. Based on this discussion, the Commission will decide on follow-up;
- we will be reviving the debate about deepening of the economic and monetary union, based on policy documents previously created.
Ladies, gentlemen, thank you for your attention.