Eurogroup ministers will meet at 9:30 hrs on Friday 4 April. Joaquín Almunia, Commissioner responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs will attend as willl European Central Bank Governor Jean-Claude Trichet. A press conference is scheduled to take place after the meeting.
Ministers will discuss the economic situation and outlook on the basis of the latest developments in real and financial markets. For the most relevant and latest economic statistics concerning the euro area consult the April 1st update of the Key Indicators for the Euro Area on:
For the latest Commission analysis of the economy see the Quarterly Report on the Euro Area published on 26 March (IP/08/466 and report itself on
The Commission’s next economic forecast, the spring forecast, will be published on 28 April.
Ministers will also prepare the G7 meeting of 11 April and the Spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank which will take place the following two days (see Ecofin section below)
Eurogroup ministers will also have their usual budgetary policy debate at this time of the year – so-called Medium-Term Budgetary Discussion – ahead of the preparations of next year’s national budgets. Germany and the Netherlands are generally first to start budgetary preparations.
The Informal Council of Economics and Finance Ministers will start around 13:00 hrs with a working lunch on Friday 4 April. The afternoon session will start at 14:45 hrs. and should run to 18:00 hrs. The meeting will continue the following morning, Saturday 5 April, from 9:30 hrs to 12:30 hrs. The European Commission will be represented by Commissioner Joaquín Almunia and Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy. A press conference is expected to take place at the end of the meeting.
Western Balkans (macro financial situation and financing issues) (AT-KN)
Over lunch, ministers are due to address the macro-financial situation in the Western Balkans and to follow-up to the June 2006 European Council conclusions regarding a finance facility for the region. The Council then welcomed the intention of the Commission to extend and intensify its cooperation with the European Investment Bank and the other international financial institutions in the Western Balkans, with a view to taking appropriate measures aiming at a finance facility for the Western Balkans. The Presidents of the European Investment Bank and of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, respectively Philippe Maystadt and Jean Lemierre, are expected to attend. For recent background on EU financial assistance to the Western Balkans see MEMO/08/144 of 5 March 2008.
Economic situation and financial stability (AT)
The afternoon session of Friday is expected to be entirely devoted to the economic situation and to issues related to financial stability. Ministers are also likely to discuss the impact of soaring food and oil prices on consumer price inflation.
In line with the conclusions of the Spring European Council, the Ministers and Central banks governors will pay particular attention to financial markets and risk assessment and will review the policy actions to address them. In particular, they will review the state of play of the implementation of the roadmap agreed at the ECOFIN of October 2007 to address the issues raised by the financial turmoil.
Financial stability, supervisory arrangements and management of cross-border crisis (0D-AT)
Financial market infrastructures (OD)
Financial stability and supervisory arrangements
Still in line with the conclusions of the Spring European Council, the Ministers and Central banks governors will discuss the issue of financial stability and supervisory arrangements and the management of cross border financial crisis situations. Emphasis will be put on the two ECOFIN roadmaps dealing with these issues and their implementation (i.e. the October 2007 ECOFIN roadmap on the enhancement of the arrangements for financial stability in the EU and the December 2007 ECOFIN “Lamfalussy” roadmap).
Ministers and Central banks governors will review the current state of play on the main issues in this file (namely Code of conduct on clearing and settlement, Target 2 securities, removal of ‘Giovannini barriers’ and way forward on requirements on safety and soundness).
Quality of public finances – efficiency and effectiveness of social spending (AT)
The informal ECOFIN will continue its discussions on how to improve the quality of public finances. Previous discussions focused on the role of national fiscal rules and institutional arrangements in meeting budgetary targets, supporting fiscal consolidation and improving the efficiency of public expenditure. In October 2007, the Council highlighted the importance of the modernisation of public administration for enhancing competitiveness, delivering better services, achieving better value-for-money and ensuring the control of government expenditure. In previous occasions, ministers called for improved systems to measure efficiency and evaluate reforms in the public sector, and for developing the analysis of the quality of public finances, including the efficiency and composition of public expenditure. This time they are expected to focus on the efficiency and effectiveness of social spending, a necessary condition to be able to maintain the current high levels of social protection and to secure the long term sustainability of European social models. Over the coming decades, Europe’s population will grow smaller and significantly older with a resulting fall in potential growth rates at the same time that ageing-related expenditure will rise. This will put a disproportionate burden on the working population as there will be only two people of working age per pensioner as opposed to a ratio of four to one at present. Member States have started to address the challenge by reforming their pension systems, embracing structural refoms to raise growth potential and increasing employment levels (see IP/06/150 and IP/06/1356 and accompanying reports on ageing and its impact on public finances). Globalisation and rapid technological change will also contribute to increasing the pressure on the social spending component of public budgets and the potential demands for insurance of new risks. Against this backdrop, and in view of the size of social expenditure in public budgets, Ministers will look at the main elements underpinning efficient and effective social spending and will propose some directions for efficiency-enhancing reforms, building upon recent national experience in modernising welfare-related public expenditure.
Preparation of the Washington Spring meetings (AT)
Ministers will hold their traditional discussions to prepare for the forthcoming Spring Meetings of the IMF (12-13 April 2008). The discussion is set to focus on the recent preliminary agreement on the reform to overhaul the IMF’s quota and voice that Ministers will vote upon within the next month (for the preliminary agreement go to:
The agreement foresees an increase in the voice and representation of emerging market and developing countries. EU Member States will contribute to this reform by accepting a reduction in their aggregate quota and voting share. Ministers will further focus on the financial situation of the IMF. In view of the IMF’s falling income, the institution is in the process of cutting its expenditure and of reorganising its activities in line with its priorities. Ministers will discuss proposals on how to strengthen the income side of the IMF.