Remarks by Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis at the ECOFIN Press conference
Thank you, Deputy Prime Minister, dear Nadia:
First of all, let me offer my warm congratulations on the support of EU finance ministers for you to become the next head of the European Investment Bank.
The European Commission and EIB have a long history of excellent cooperation.
I have every confidence that with you at the helm of the Bank, we will continue to strengthen this cooperation, working together to tackle the challenges that the EU is facing.
On today's Ecofin agenda, let me begin with the economic governance review.
We made considerable progress last night and a deal is definitely within reach.
I am quite confident that we will be able to finalise this work in the coming days and arrive at an agreement - as envisaged - by the end of the year, under the Spanish Presidency.
Time of the essence here, given the significant economic and fiscal challenges that we face.
We must preserve the sustainability of public finances and support sustainable growth.
From that point of view, moving to the new fiscal framework is essential – and I think the Commission's reform proposals contain the right elements to achieve those objectives.
Good balance between ownership and enforcement. Risk-based differentiation, simplification, incentives for investment and reforms.
So it is important that the final agreement which is going to be reached by Council, and then at the end of the legislative process also by the European Parliament, maintains those core parameters of this new framework.
In the meantime, Member States have full clarity on the requirements for 2024 based on country-specific recommendations from July and the European Commission's recent opinions on the draft budgetary plans.
But we need similar clarity and predictability for the coming years as well.
In the meantime, fiscal policy needs to stay prudent.
There is little room for complacency, given the current economic outlook and still elevated inflation.
However, as we turn towards 2024, there is scope for some cautious optimism.
Inflation continues to fall, providing some relief to consumers.
For November in the euro area, it stood at 2.4% - its slowest annual pace since July 2021.
This continued easing of inflation should help economic growth to rebound modestly in 2024, helped by strong labour markets.
Despite our resilience in the face of consecutive shocks, the EU economy also has longstanding structural challenges.
This makes it even more important for Member States to carry out the reforms and investments set in their national Recovery and Resilience Plans.
On that note, we welcome today's adoption of 13 revised RRPs submitted by Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Poland and Romania.
This means that all Member States have revised plans adopted, and we can now commit the remaining 30% of RRF grants and the requested loans by the end of the year.
Our autumn economic forecast indicates a sustained increase in investment despite many economic challenges and this is largely down to the RRF's influence.
This is yet another reason for Member States to continue with the steady implementation of their Recovery and Resilience Plans, and for some Member States to catch up on delays.
Lastly, on Ukraine.
We need rapid progress with adopting the Ukraine Facility. It is urgent to make payments starting in early 2024.
Ukraine faces a massive financing gap next year – and correspondingly, we need to live up to our commitment to support Ukraine for as long as it is necessary.
Regarding financing for Ukraine, one extra revenue stream could come from immobilized Russian sovereign assets.
As you know, G7 finance ministers have agreed to explore using extraordinary revenue stemming from such assets to support Ukraine and its recovery and reconstruction.
Thanks to the reporting obligation included in the 10th sanctions package, we know that €207 billion of Russian sovereign assets have been immobilised in the EU.
As requested by EU leaders, the Commission – together with the High Representative – we are advancing our work and we should be submitting a proposal in this regard very soon.