Le Conseil a donné le feu vert à la présidence pour faire des propositions de compromis au Parlement européen lors des concertations interinstitutionnelles trilatérales au sujet des six propositions législatives visant à renforcer la gouvernance économique. Présidant la réunion du 17 mai 2011, György Matolcsy, ministre de l’Economie nationale, a exprimé ses espoirs que le Parlement européen évaluerait positivement la position du Conseil.
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On 17 May at the post-meeting press conference, György Matolcsy said that “Every Member State supported the proposals of the Presidency,” on the matter of the package of six legislative proposals, and he called it the most significant achievement of the lengthy ECOFIN Council’s meeting. The Minister thanked EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Olli Rehn, who attended both the meeting and the press conference, for his helpful contribution. According to him, this marks the beginning of the last stage of adopting the six legislative proposals, aimed at the reform of the economic governance. “I hope the Parliament will consider the Council’s position positively, because it is imperative that we now finalise the legislative package, before the end of June; and dispelling any doubts about European legislators’ commitment for tackling crisis,” Matolcsy said.
At its meeting on 15 March, the ECOFIN Council approved the general approach (preliminary position), under which the Hungarian Presidency commenced unofficial and later, in the beginning of April, official negotiations with the European Parliament (EP) and the Commission on accepting the package of six legislative proposals, at first reading. A total of approximately 2.000 proposed amendments were submitted in connection with the EP’s reports on the legislative proposals, which differed from the general approach. Several significant amendments were accepted by Member States. In the ECOFIN Council’s meeting on 17 May, the Presidency asked for the opinion of Member States on the major matters that were debated about.
In the Council’s meeting Matolcsy reminded his counterparts that the legislative package is a key file for the Hungarian Presidency; and for the Council’s work in general. The objective of this legislation is to strengthen fiscal policy and to enhance macro-economic surveillance. It is a very important element of the comprehensive response Europe is to give to the crisis. The February 2011 European Council of heads of state and government, called on the Council to reach a final agreement with the EP in June. “I believe that if we would like to achieve this goal, then we have to make a move now,” Matolcsy said. He indicated that the Presidency is working at maximum speed, the trialogues (trilateral interinstitutional discussions) are taking place almost on a daily basis. However, this is not enough: all parties in the Council and EP trialogue need to demonstrate their flexibility, the minister pointed out.
A reassuring message to markets
The Presidency submitted a report to the Council on the state of play concerning the economic governance package. It contains the Presidency proposals on the way forward on six key issues. These issues will break or make the trialogue at this stage. According to the Presidency, the six major topics are: 1) reinforcing financial sanctions, 2) extended use of reversed qualified majority voting, 3) procedure for the adoption of the scoreboard, consisting of 8-10 indicators that will help recognizing macro-economic imbalances in time, 4) interinstitutional economic dialogue (consultation) and transparency, 5) medium-term solutions for crisis management, and 6) codification of the European Semester, the economic policy coordination cycle.
During the meeting, Matolcsy expressed his hopes that the report of the Presidency prepared by the ad hoc working party and the Coreper, will represent the right balance; and that Member States can agree on them, and the Presidency will be able to conduct discussions on this basis with the Parliament. Matolcsy emphasised: there is no better way of sending a reassuring message to markets than the support of the report of the Presidency; at the same time, they could convince the Parliament of the commitment of the Council and the Presidency towards the earliest possible agreement.
At the EP’s plenary meeting on 11 May 2011, András Kármán, Minister of State for Tax and Financial Regulation of the Ministry of National Economy, said that the negotiations between the Council and the EP, over the package of six legislative proposals, were progressing well, but he pointed out that a “Responsible and flexible approach,” was necessary, from both the Council and the EP. He believed that the agreement in June could give a favourable signal to the markets, demonstrating that the institutions of the EU are capable of cooperation.
The package of financial assistance to Portugal
The Council adopted a decision, which grants financial assistance to Portugal. The EU will provide loans amounting to EUR 52 billion, as part of a EUR 78 billion package of financial assistance, with EUR 26 billion respectively granted under the European Financial Stability Mechanism (EFSM); and the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). The IMF will provide around EUR 26 billion under an Extended Fund Facility. The EFSM loan will have a maximum average maturity of 7.5 years, and a margin of 215 basis points on top of the EU's cost of funding. This will result in conditions, which are similar to those of the IMF support. The aid will be provided on the basis of a three-year policy programme for the period up to mid-2014, which was negotiated with the Portuguese authorities by the Commission, and the International Monetary Fund, in liaison with the European Central Bank.
Agreement of the Council on short-selling
The Ministers of Economy and Finances Council have reached a general approach, with a view to negotiate with the EP on a draft regulation aimed at introducing EU rules for short selling, government securities and certain aspects of credit default swaps. The proposal introduces new and common EU transparency requirements; and harmonises the powers that regulators may use in exceptional situations where there is a serious threat to financial stability. The negotiations with the Parliament will aim for the adoption of the regulation, at the first reading.
The compromise became possible after the Commission and the Council promised in a joint communication, that in the trialogue they would do their utmost concerning the competence of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), for considering the concerning formulated by individual Member States. In the press conference, Internal Markets and Services Commission Michel Barnier especially appreciated the work of the Presidency team concerning this issue.
Nomination of Mario Draghi as President of the European Central Bank
The Council adopted a recommendation on the nomination of Mario Draghi, as President of the European Central Bank to succeed Jean-Claude Trichet, whose term of office will expire on 31 October 2011. The Council's recommendation will be submitted to the European Council, which will consult the EP and the ECB, with a view to adopting a final decision at its meeting on 23 and 24 June.
In the press conference György Matolcsy said that members of the ECOFIN Council held an informal meeting with ministers of candidate countries, they conducted a “constructive and useful” exchange of ideas with regarding the accession process.
La Hongrie s’est acquitté de missions de la plus haute importance de manière efficace et élégante, en témoignant de sa volonté d’apporter une valeur ajoutée dans les domaines que sont l’aide au développement, les flux migratoires et les négociations en matière énergétique.