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Remarks by Commissioner Gentiloni at the Eurogroup press conference

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op maandag 6 december 2021.

Good afternoon - I will focus on three points.

First, I welcome the Eurogroup's agreement with our assessment of Member States' draft budgetary plans and the general call is for a moderately supportive fiscal stance in 2022. What does this mean? That our support policies must be targeted, carefully calibrated, and we must be ready to tailor them as needed to respond to developments. So, not tightened, but shift from universal and emergency to targeted and selected support.

As we had recommended, in 2022 all Member States will preserve nationally financed investment. Nearly all low and medium debt countries will pursue or maintain a supportive fiscal stance. And high debt countries will use the RRF to finance additional investment in support of the recovery.

Important to know that the public investment-to-GDP ratio next year is set to be higher than pre-crisis, and this good news stands in contrast with the declining trend of this public investment-to-GDP ratio we saw in the wake of the Financial Crisis. Higher investment will support growth and facilitate a sustained, growth-friendly path of reduction of public debt.

Alongside these welcome developments, we also called in some cases for a prudent execution of the budget to limit the growth of current expenditure, especially when this growth is combined with high debt levels.

Second, we had this very interesting exchange with Kristalina Georgieva, very broad convergence of views between the Commission, Ministers and the IMF.

As recognised by the Fund, our strong and well-coordinated policy response was crucial to limit the economic fallout of the pandemic in Europe, which has been less pronounced than initially feared.

Of course, we are well aware that this crisis is not over yet. Both old and new risks are materialising, notably the growing case numbers and reintroduction of restrictions, global supply chains and the rise in inflation. This is exactly the reason why policymakers need to remain vigilant and agile, adapting policy to an evolving situation. As some colleagues said, we should not be uncertain, but we should face uncertainty with coordinated policy action.

We also appreciate the Fund's very positive assessment for the RRF.

On Friday we reached a new milestone on the RRF programme with our positive preliminary assessment of Spain's payment request for €10 billion of grants. And further requests will come in these days.

Finally, I also welcome the IMF's very useful comments on our fiscal framework and I'm looking forward to the Fund's contribution to our consultation on our economic governance, a consultation which remains open until the end of the year.

Third point, the Eurogroup's endorsement of the conclusions of our latest enhanced surveillance report on Greece, agreed with the Ministers and the ESM.

Despite the difficult economic circumstances, the Greek authorities have completed a further set of commitments, even though some commitments experienced delays.

I also want to congratulate the Greek authorities for their efforts to implement their Recovery and Resilience Plan. We are looking forward to receiving the first payment request in the coming weeks.

Finally, as the President of the Eurogroup reminded, we celebrated the twentieth of the introduction of the euro cash.

Interesting to note that in these very days the Eurobarometer, again, stated - I think it was on Friday - a very high level of consensus in Europe, it was 78% of consensus in Europe for the role of the common currency. And this, I think, is something we have indeed to celebrate.

Thank you.


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