On 16th and 17th January Minister of Finance Yuriko Backes participated in the Eurogroup and the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) in Brussels.
For the first time, the Eurogroup officially brought together the twenty finance ministers of the euro area, following Croatia's accession at the beginning of 2023. In this context, the ministers took stock of the transition from the Croatian kuna to the euro.
The finance ministers then discussed the digital euro project and adopted a joint declaration setting out a number of principles for the possible future creation of such a currency. The Eurogroup also exchanged views on the economic, budgetary and financial situation of the euro area. This debate was enriched by a presentation by the staff of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of the results of its Article IV mission to the euro area. The Finance Ministers also continued their work on the coordination of national measures to mitigate the impact of energy prices on households and businesses.
The meeting concluded with an in-depth discussion of the specific aspects of the reform of the European economic governance framework for the euro area. In this regard, Yuriko Backes pointed out: "For fiscal policy to be sustainable, action needs to be taken before the trajectory becomes unsustainable. Our approach must be future-oriented".
At the Ecofin Council on 17 January, EU Finance Ministers met for the first time under the Swedish Presidency. The Swedish Presidency presented its priorities for the next six months, particularly in the current uncertain economic climate.
The 27 ministers then held their now customary exchange of views on the economic and financial consequences of the Russia's invasion of Ukraine, after being briefed on the implementation of the 2023 Instrument of Support for Ukraine (macro-financial assistance - MFA). It is recalled that the Council had adopted a financial assistance of EUR 18 billion to finance Ukraine's immediate needs and the rehabilitation of key infrastructure until 2023.
The first amendment to one of the twenty-seven National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRPs) was also up for approval. The allocation of EU funds under the Recovery and Resilience Facility was adjusted in June 2022 to better reflect the impact of the health crisis on growth in each Member State. As the first to be given the green light by the European Commission, the amended Luxembourg NRP of EUR 82.7 million was also the first to be adopted by the Council. In this context, Yuriko Backes said: "Despite the occasional adjustments to the plan, the original ambitions remain fully intact. I am delighted that the Council has given the green light".
At a breakfast meeting ahead of the Ecofin Council meeting, EU finance ministers discussed the EU's response to the Inflation Reduction Act.
Yuriko Backes also met the new Irish and Latvian finance ministers, Michael McGrath and Arvils Ašeradens, during her visit to Brussels.
Press release by the Ministry of Finance