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Press remarks by Commissioner Gentiloni at the Eurogroup press conference

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op maandag 17 januari 2022.

Thank you very much and let me join you Paschal in wishing a happy new year to everyone and also in thanking you for remembering the personality of David Sassoli in the beginning of the meeting this afternoon.

Well we had I think a very interesting discussion, taking stock of the impact of our collective response, remembering also that, of course all crises are different, and the speed of the recovery, if we compare it to the previous crisis.

In the previous crisis it took seven years to go back to the GDP pre-crisis level. In this crisis we are already, at the end of 2021, back to the pre-crisis GDP level and we will reach by the end of 2022, according to our estimates, the pre-crisis trend, which is of course different from the pre-crisis level of GDP.

Lessons learned, a couple of points from my side:

First, the importance of having monetary and fiscal policy in their autonomy working in the same horizon. This was extremely important in the crisis.

Second, the importance of protecting jobs. It was also interesting to note, thanks to a presentation from Laurence Boone, the relations and differences between Europe and the US in reacting to the crisis, and especially the different nature and dimension and reactions to inflation in the EU and US.

Corporate vulnerability was the second big item. And indeed several ministers and the president remembered how one year ago, or one year and half ago we were all expecting a wave of bankruptcies and a wave of unemployment.

And indeed, we didn't have these two waves: bankruptcies were at a lower level than in previous years - despite the fact that they are now materialising a little bit more in some more affected sectors, in tourism, in travel, in the accommodation sector - and the unemployment wave didn't happen.

Of course, we know that the challenge of the labour market - inequalities, transitioning from some sectors to other sectors - are very tough challenges. But the support policies were quite effective, and the challenges now are challenges ahead, not to face a social catastrophe.

On the economic governance review we discussed, as the president of the Eurogroup said, a few aspects more connected with the euro area dimension, the role of draft budgetary plans and of the coordination overall.

I think it was a positive discussion. Of course we are not drawing conclusions on this issue. But I also think that there is awareness of the fact that we are not in a new chapter of the old story where everyone only stresses their own position, but that a sincere effort to find common ground is there. And so I am even more optimistic tonight on the fact that this new story be written together.

Let me recall that the online consultation on the review closed at the end of last year. We received more than 250 contributions by several banks, central banks, entities, governments, think-tanks. It will be very useful to look at this and the Commission will come forward in the coming weeks with guidance for fiscal policies in 2023 and in the coming months we will draw the conclusions of this review and present our proposals. Coming weeks, coming months, for the two different things.

Finally, full support for the strength of Paschal in addressing the issue of the Banking Union. We all know that this issue is not a new one, but we all know that we have both an opportunity and a need to make progress, and I have to say that from ministers we saw a lot of support for the president of the Eurogroup's determination to address the Banking Union now.

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