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27 January 2015

Remarks by Jeroen Dijsselbloem and Pierre Moscovici following the Eurogroup meeting

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Dijsselbloem: "We discussed a wide range of topics: Lithuania's euro changeover, the Commission's flexibility paper with a lot of focus on reforms and the economic situation in the euro area, among others"

"We are first going to Greece. Let me first of all say, from this podium, that we of course congratulate the party that won the Greek elections and have now formed a Greek government and that we wish them, of course, success in their work and we look forward to working with them, the way we worked with the previous Greek government. We will support them in their quest for economic recovery of Greece. We are glad that their ambition is to realise this within the Eurozone and that is exactly our ambition too.

I am sure you will have a lot of questions of what will now happen, the current programme, the future etc, but there is very little I can say about it at this moment, for the simple reason that the new Greek government has yet to take office, get started. It is too early to say what their intentions, ambitions in the short term regarding programmes etc. So it is really hard for me to respond to that.

I think we will need a little bit of patience and we also discussed this in the Eurogroup that we must allow the new Greek government to take their positions and give their points of view on how to move forward. Both in finalising the pending review and any other further suppport from the Eurozone to Greece. On awaiting that outcome, we have some time to come to this in our next Eurogroup meeting in February. So, this all is very disappointing if this is all I can say on Greece.  

We talked quite briefly on the smooth changeover process of Lithuania entering the Eurozone. We formally welcomed Finance Minister Rimantas Šadžius as a full Member of the Eurogroup. He has been already attending our meetings since September 2014 as an observer. Introducing the Euro is also a well-deserved achievement for Lithuania, after an impressive convergence process and remarkable re-emergence from the financial crisis.   

On the economic situation in the Euro area, we were joined today on this issue also by the IMF, who shared with us their current assessment on where the Euro area economy stands. And the ECB informed us of last week's decision by the Governing Council.  We discussed the economic situation and the required policy priorities, which you know very simply is about growth and jobs. There is no two ways about it. To enhance our economy's growth potential and this requires decisive action on the part of the Member States through growth-friendly fiscal consolidation, respecting the SGP, investment and importantly, growth-enhancing structural reforms. Action in these areas will make the ECB's accommodative monetary policy more effective. 

In this context we also had a short discussion on the governance of the Euro area, to be more precise on how to get reforms done. We prepared the input for the February European Council, which will discuss the state of play of the EMU.  

At at their informal meeting on 12 February, HoSoG will exchange views on the issue on the basis of an analytical note, as agreed at the December EU Council Member States will be closely involved in the preparatory work. Our Eurogroup discussion today is part of this process. Following the feedback received from HoSoG on 12 February, work will continue so that the 'Four Presidents' can report back to the June European Council."

Full press release


Commissioner Moscovici remarks at Eurogroup press conference

I believe we all agree on the outcome we want to achieve: a Greece that is able to stand on its own feet again, a Greece that can grow sustainably and create jobs and prosperity for all of its people, to reduce inequality, a Greece that can repay its debts. What we need to agree upon with the incoming government is not on the ends but maybe on the means, on how to get there.

Moving forward as quickly as possible with these discussions will be in the interests both of Greece and of the euro area as a whole. And the European Commission is ready to play its role.

Let me conclude by recalling that Greece has made remarkable progress in recent years. The Greek people have made and we know that, many sacrifices and have faced many hard choices, but they have been supported throughout by European solidarity. Their efforts are starting to pay off. Growth returned last year, supported by an increase in private consumption and a strong performance of key sectors like tourism and shipping. We saw an increase in investment in the third quarter of last year, for the first time since 2008. And most importantly, unemployment began to fall, with around 100,000 new jobs being created last year.

Je le redis nous sommes prêts à nous engager dans un dialogue constructif avec la Grèce avec son gouvernement légitime pour soutenir les efforts à venir en matière de réformes et surtout pour poursuivre, approfondir ces premiers résultats car c'est cela que le peuple grec attend et nous allons nous engager dans cette démarche constructive.

Full press release

© Council of the European Union

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