Remarks by Commissioner Gentiloni at the Eurogroup press conference

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

We had an excellent discussion this afternoon with Janet Yellen and I want to thank Paschal for organising this. It was very useful for the Eurogroup to exchange views with Secretary Yellen. It was a very important moment because it symbolised a new period in the transatlantic relationship. In terms of our relations with the US, we have gone from a winter of discontent to a summer of cooperation. It was a positive and optimistic discussion, overall. The renewal of our relationship has happened thanks to the commitment of the new US administration. We have to be honest in recognising this. The role of Secretary Yellen was also essential for the success of the G20 in Venice.

I can say on behalf of the Commission that we share with the US administration the conviction that we need not only a rebound to pre-pandemic GDP levels but to build our economies back better. This is of course the essence of our recovery plan, which will take a major step forward tomorrow as the Council is set to adopt the implementing decisions on 12 national plans.

I can say also we are also very much aligned in terms of the short-term outlook and policy priorities.

On both sides of the Atlantic we are set to see very strong growth this year, for the EU, the highest level in 45 years,  as our economies reopen. At the same time, it is clear that we are not yet out of the woods, either in terms of the pandemic or its economic and social consequences.

So it remains crucial to keep up the rate of vaccinations in developed countries and to drastically step up the pace in developing countries. We remain in a race between infections and injections. I think we are optimistic in the EU as we are reaching the target of 70% of the adult population with a first dose sooner than we imagined, but the need to move ahead is very urgent by the spread of more infectious variants.

And equally important, given the high level of uncertainty and risks surrounding the outlook, is that we continue to use all available policy tools to address the adverse consequences of the pandemic, and avoid any premature withdrawal of support, as was indeed reiterated also by the G20 in Venice.

So to sum up, a strong convergence of views, a strong will to work together, and an overall excellent and very welcome session with Secretary Yellen.

Very briefly on the euro area fiscal stance for next year, which we discussed with Professor Niels Thygesen, on the basis of the European Fiscal Board’s recent report. Our assessment is that the fiscal stance for the euro area as a whole is set to remain supportive in 2022 and we concur with the European Fiscal Board that this is broadly appropriate in the current context, for the reasons I just set out.

Our assessment of the fiscal stance takes into account the large impulse coming from the EU recovery fund, in particular from the Recovery and Resilience Facility, and also the phasing out of temporary emergency measures.

The fiscal stance is projected to remain supportive in most individual Member States and most also plan to increase investment financed at the national level.

On the Board’s suggestion to resume the discussions on the economic governance framework, in particular on the fiscal rules, as I have already indicated, the Commission intends to relaunch this public debate in the autumn.

Lastly on the topic of a digital euro, our experts are working together with the ECB to better understand the benefits and risks of such a potential innovation and to identify the most relevant technical designs.

Thank you.

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