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21 June 2011

Economic Governance Package of six proposals: Council offers compromise to Parliament

Mr Matolcsy, Hungarian Economy Minister, said the Council will continue to disagree with the expansion of reverse majority voting on the prevention part of the S&G Pact. Nevertheless, he was optimistic that the Council has made so many concessions that the EP will ultimately endorse the package.

Minister of National Economy, György Matolcsy recalled that one of the main priorities of the Hungarian Presidency agenda was to strengthen the coordination of economic policy in the European Union, and to promote the acceptance of the relevant five regulations and one Directive. "We did it. We have managed to work out an acceptable compromise proposal”, he concluded. He expressed his hope that the Parliament would also endorse the compromise. So, “We can send the right signal to the international money market, and verify the old adage that we stand united.” He acknowledged both the Commission and the EP, for their cooperation with the Council in a spirit which is  open to compromise.

The Council's seven concessions

Responding to a journalist's question, Mr. Matolcsy presented in detail the concessions the Council made to the EP on seven points compared to its first negotiating position, which were developed in March. The Presidency proposal:

1) involves the EP in the European Semester through the whole economic cycle;
2) institutionalises the economic dialogue among European Institutions, including the EP and the Council and individual Member States;
3) involves the EP in the establishment and functioning of the macro-economic scoreboard, a kind of early warning system for macro-economic imbalances;
4) enhances the independence of statistical authorities and introduces a fine for Member States who falsify their fiscal statistics;
5) expands the application of reverse qualified majority voting, reinforces the already existing comply or explain procedure by making it public;
6) introduces additional sanctions for Member States in the Excessive Imbalance Procedure;
7) invites the Commission to review regularly the effective function of the regulation and the progress in ensuring closer coordination of economic policies, and to report on the issue of Euro-securities.

Rejection of reverse majority voting

The Minister said the Council will continue to disagree with the expansion of reverse majority voting on the prevention part of the Stability and Growth Pact, which the Parliament would like to see; on that issue, the position of the Council has not changed since March. Nevertheless, he said in his opinion, he was optimistic, that the Council has made so many concessions on other areas that the EP will ultimately endorse the package, which was submitted by the Presidency.

Rehn cautions EP on irresponsibility

European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Policy, Olli Rehn, expressed his opinion, first in the meeting of the Council then in the press conference, that the agreement is 99.9 percent accepted. He called on the Parliament to act responsibly, because we are at a critical moment and the package is too important to fail. Rehn encouraged the Council and the EP to “cover the last centimetre”. He pointed out that serious consequences may follow if the EP votes against the package on 23 June, or even in the case of a delay in the adoption. The reason is because these legislations would provide the EU with the tools to strengthen economic governance, improve budgetary discipline and prevent the development of macro-economic imbalances; all that is assisted by an efficient coercive mechanism.

Barnier praises Presidency for proactivity

Commissioner Rehn has acknowledged the work of the Internal Markets and Services Presidency team.  Commissioner Michel Barnier did the same in the press conference, and praised the Presidency for its proactive approach in the field of the revised regulation of financial services. As he noted, the Hungarian Presidency has contributed with its activity to the establishment of the three pillars of trust: governance, regulation and growth.

The road to compromise

The Council has accepted a general approach on the six legislative proposals on 15 March. After the competent EP committee approved the rapporteurs' reports, a three-party inter-institutional discussion, a “trialogue” began among the Council, EP and Commission on 20 April, in order to ensure the creation of such texts by the end of June, that both co-legislators are ready to adopt as early as in the first reading. The February meeting of the European Council, the organisation of EU heads of state and government, called on the Council to reach an agreement with the Parliament by the end of June.

Since the end of April, meetings have been held by delegations of the three institutes almost daily, and they have gradually managed to reduce the number of unresolved issues. A total of about two thousand motions of amendment were submitted by the EP, on the reports that were prepared about the legislative proposals, which differed from the preliminary position accepted by Member States on several significant points. In the 17 May ECOFIN meeting, the Presidency asked for the opinions of Member States on the major debated matters. Then with the mandates that were received from the Council, it continued with the negotiations and submitted its compromise proposals to the June 20 meeting of ministers, for final approval.

Press release


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