Economic response to COVID-19 pandemic
Ministers discussed progress achieved on the EU's response measures taken to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.
Ministers welcomed the adoption, by written procedure, of the regulation for temporary support to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency (SURE). SURE can provide up to €100 billion of loans under favorable terms to member states to help finance national short-time work schemes and similar measures, including for self-employed persons, as well as support some health-related measures, in particular at the work place in response to the crisis.
By saving jobs and protecting the incomes of our citizens, EU governments will be able to minimise the negative social impact of the health crisis and allow our economies to leverage this reservoir of demand to bounce back to business as quickly as possible.
Zdravko Maric, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of finance of Croatia
SURE is one of the three safety nets, worth €540 billion, for jobs and workers, businesses and member states, agreed by the Eurogroup on 9 April 2020. EU leaders endorsed the agreement on 23 April and called for the package to be operational by 1 June 2020.
The safety net for member states, the ESM's Pandemic Crisis Support, became operational on 15 May 2020 following political agreement on the instrument's features and standardised terms at the Eurogroup of 8 May.
Ministers also took stock of ongoing discussions to operationalise the safety net for businesses via the European Investment Bank's pan-European guarantee fund. The Presidency called for the finalisation of the instrument as soon as possible
The Commission and the European Central Bank presented their assessment of the economic and financial situation.
Anti-money laundering and terrorist financing
Ministers held a discussion following a presentation by the European Commission of its approach to further strengthen the EU's fight against money laundering and terrorist financing (AML).
Ministers discussed how to further improve the existing AML framework, in particular:
-how to best achieve a harmonised set of rules and which areas and sectors would merit being covered by a regulation;
-how to make better use of data, data analysis and data sharing;
-the possibility of setting up a new dedicated EU authority for AML and its possible competences;
-the revised methodology proposed by the Commission for the identification of high-risk third countries.
On 7 May, the Commission presented:
-an action plan for a comprehensive EU policy on preventing money laundering and terrorism financing
-a revised methodology for listing high-risk third countries that have strategic deficiencies in their AML regimes
The Commission's action plan follows up on the Council conclusions of December 2019, which set out strategic priorities for reform in this area.
The revised listing methodology aims at better protecting the EU financial system from AML risks. The EU's framework on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing sets out an obligation to identify third country jurisdictions which have strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regimes.
European Semester 2020
Ministers welcomed the adoption of Council conclusions on the European Semester 2020 country reports and the implementation of the 2019 country-specific recommendations.
These conclusions are part of the annual process of assessing macroeconomic imbalances procedures. However, this year, they reflect the exceptional situation linked to the severe deterioration of the economic situation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The conclusions focus on structural challenges and vulnerabilities that remain relevant in today's changing and uncertain economic environment, and which could prove relevant for a recovery strategy.
Economic dialogue with Western Balkans and Turkey
In the margins of the video conference of economic and finance ministers, the EU, the Western Balkans and Turkey held their annual economic policy dialogue. This year's discussion focused on the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the region. Participants adopted a joint statement at the end of the video conference.
-19 May 2020