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Opening remarks by Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis at the ECOFIN press conference

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op donderdag 5 december 2019.

Honourable mister Minister,

Dear Mika,

Honourable journalists,

This was the last ECOFIN under the Finnish Presidency. I would like to thank you very much for the skillful chairmanship of these ECOFIN councils, which allowed us to make progress and conclude many important files.

Today's ECOFIN had a very green flavour to it, with many discussions related to tackling climate change and to finding best solutions to finance the transition to the climate neutral economy .

This includes green budgeting, carbon pricing and green taxation.

I briefed ministers on the good progress we've already made in terms of sustainable finance. I outlined some possible directions for our Green Financing Strategy, which we will publish next year.

This ECOFIN runs in parallel with trilogues at the European Parliament on our taxonomy. Progress is very encouraging. A deal is within reach.

This taxonomy, or ‘green list', would be a classification system to define sustainable economic activities, the first of its kind anywhere in the world. This common green list will help us channel private investments into green projects, to ensure that we meet the Paris Climate Targets and to move us closer to the climate neutral economy. Public funding alone will not to be enough. Therefore, private finance has to play its own part.

I would like to thank the Finnish Presidency for their efforts in these trilogues and for putting ‘green' issues firmly on the ECOFIN agenda.

Today we also discussed tackling money laundering and terrorist financing. The situation is serious: recently we had a number of money laundering scandals across the EU.

We are eager to make quick headway. We've done a lot of groundwork to prepare for proposals next year. Our laws have to be implemented, and supervised efficiently.

In this context, we will consider the options for conferring certain supervisory powers to an EU body.

Today the ECOFIN endorsed a joint statement with the Commission on stablecoins.

These are part of a much broader universe of crypto assets. If we properly address the risks, innovation around crypto assets has the potential to play a positive role for investors, consumers and the efficiency of our financial system.

A number of Member States like France, Germany or Malta introduced national crypto asset laws, but most people agree with the advice of the European Supervisory Authorities that these markets go beyond borders and so we need a common European framework.

We will now move to implement this advice. We will launch a public consultation very shortly, before the end of the year. We will also launch a public consultation on the digital operational resilience of our financial sector, for example against cyber attacks.

I was delighted to see so much support for the Capital Markets Union, which we now need to take to the next level.

We will look at all the possible ways to ensure that SMEs can get access to finance and that savers can put their investments to productive use.

We've just set up a High-Level Forum, chaired by Thomas Wieser, to help bring new ideas to the table. The Group will report back in May.

We will need to count on the continued support and ambition of our Member States to make real headway on this flagship initiative.

We also discussed energy taxation.

There is a broad consensus on the need to move forward with the new energy taxation framework, which is also important in the context of decarbonising our economy.

This work should be strongly evidence based, therefore the Commission will carry out an impact assessment on the review of Energy Taxation Directive;

We will make a thorough analysis of existing exemptions as well as on the ways to broaden the existing tax base;

We are also aware that when reforming our energy tax legislation, due attention should be paid to the issues like preserving competitiveness or ensuring connectivity and to ensurefair distribution of costs and take into account the social dimension.

Once again, thank you Minister for the excellent work during the Finnish Presidency and for the successful conclusion of many files during your Presidency.

Thank you.

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