Welcome to this Eurogroup press conference. We had a short meting today in the Eurogroup. First of all, I want to thank the Estonian Presidency of course for their hospitality and for allowing us to be in this very inspiring surroundings.
Let me first make a remark on the ongoing economic recovery. I’m not sure whether we should even talk about recovery anymore. In the Eurozone, growth keeps picking up, it is set to remain robust, it’s broad-based, it’s across all our countries. Of course, risks remain and work needs to be done to deal with those risks, but confidence is ever increasing and I think that’s hugely welcome.
We started our first meeting after the summer break with a discussion on how to make our monetary union more resilient, which is vital for its sound functioning. The discussion took place about what is the responsibility of member states and what is the responsibility of the monetary union or the European Union, and I think reducing vulnerability. There are 3 aspects regarding resilience. First of all, of course, how we can make sure that we are less vulnerable to economic shocks. Secondly, how we can increase the absorption capacity. So this is how when the economic shock occurs, how it is being dealt with, absorbed, by institutions, by markets, by households, by companies. And thirdly, about enabling a faster economic recovery after a shock. And that, of course, is one of the lessons learnt from the crisis. We were much too slow in absorbing the shocks. We weren’t ready and fit to absorb the shocks, neither on the private nor on the public side, and it took a very long time to recover. Certainly, if you compare for example to how the US recovered from the crisis. So the three phases: reducing vulnerability before the shocks, absorption of the shock when it occurs, and having a fast recovery after the shock. Those were the elements discussed.
It is of course an umbrella issue, because when you get into it, it is again about the kind of structural reforms needed at national level, finishing the banking union, completing capital markets union so markets can absorb more shocks, improving our governance and institutional frameworks, both national and European. Many of those topics we will also return to today, tomorrow, in the coming months when we discuss the future of the monetary union.
So we will build on today’s discussion, bringing the topics back on our agenda in the coming weeks, putting it in the work programme of the Eurogroup, and start work this autumn on topics that are right in front of us, like finishing the banking union – the Commission already has proposals on the table -, doing more work on the capital markets union where proposals are on the table, while we discussed the future elements of the monetary union.
Second topic today was the state of play in Greece, the planning for the third review in Greece.
We got a report from the institutions on topics that are being worked on at the moment. Technical teams are at the moment in Athens, fact-finding and preparing the grounds, so that later on the third review can get off to a quick start. The idea is to finish that before the end of the year. More work needs to be done of course on a number of issues some of which were already mentioned today.
A sign that Greece has come a long way is the proposal to abrogate the excessive deficit procedure, which we welcomed today and is expected to be adopted by the Council later this month.
We also addressed ongoing court cases against the previous director of Elstat. Let me underline here again that, across the room in the Eurogroup, great concern was expressed about the ongoing court cases, the effect that it has internationally on the confidence in Greece and the process of modernisation in Greece, including the independence, of course, of Elstat itself. That concern was underlined and stressed. But of course the judicial procedures will go their independent ways.