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Remarks by Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni at the Eurogroup press conference

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op maandag 20 januari 2020.

I will make just a couple of points to complement what Mario has said.

Indeed, we had a good discussion connecting two issues in the agenda. One was the latest IMF report. The other was the draft recommendation from the Commission to the euro area.

The two things were connected. I think we had a good discussion taking stock of a rather convergent approach from the IMF and the Commission. Convergent in seeing a slowdown in our growth, a good situation in our labour market and some risks in front of us. External risks come from geopolitical challenges, trade - but not only trade - and risks coming from the process we will have after Brexit. We have certainty in timing, but the negotiation will be a difficult process.

Finally, there are also risks coming from internal challenges. First of all, the risk of spill over from weakening in car manufacturing and other sectors.

What was, from my point of view, very interesting and encouraging was the importance in our discussion that was given to the environmental transition and the issue of green budgeting. I deem extremely important that finance ministers and the Eurogroup under Mario's Presidency will take a relevant role in this Green Deal transition.

So, an emphasis on the green transition, green budgeting and an awareness of the macroeconomic relevance of this issue.

This is why, for the first time this year, we will include environmental sustainability as an integral part of the European Semester, starting with the country reports that we will present in February.

Secondly, on Portugal, as Mario said, and this was largely recognised in the discussion, Portugal made progress over the last number of years from all points of view.

This progress is reflected in the Draft Budgetary Plan we received in December.

For the first time, Portugal is set to achieve a surplus.

The path of Portugal's public debt is going in the right way.

As Mario said, the Commission underlined a couple of specific issues where we see a risk of non-compliance and we ask the Portuguese Government to take action to avoid this risk.

I am sure that Mario is aware of these problems and is perfectly able to manage this issue.

Finally, we took stock of progress on the various aspects of the package to deepen our Economic and Monetary Union and the next steps we need to take.

As you know, it is for the moment more a programme of discussion and decisions to be taken.

On this programme, the Eurogroup was strongly committeed.

When we enter into these subjects our discussions will not be so short or as easy as the one we had this evening!

Thank you.

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