EU PRESIDENCY: GREECE STARTS FROM JANUARY 2014

  • 27 December 2013

The Presidency of the Council of the EU from January 1, 2014 will be in the hands of Greece. The task facing the Hellenic country seems quite challenging. In fact , it will be a period of particularly intense activity , because it is necessary to develop dossiers inherited from the previous Presidencies Irish and Lithuanian and, before April -when it will end the term of the European Parliament- it is necessary to reach an agreement on several issues. In May, also , there will be direct elections to the European Parliament in the 28 Member States, after which a new Commission will be appointed.

The motto chosen for the next six months is ” Europe : our joint research .” The action program – as outlined in the Department of European Affairs of the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers – will be organized around four themes: growth , employment and cohesion; further deepening of economic and monetary union; migration , borders and mobility; maritime policy.

Growth, employment and cohesion

The revival of economic growth and creating jobs are among the main priorities of the Greek Presidency. Despite encouraging signs of economic recovery across the EU, unemployment rates remain too high in a number of Member States. Greece therefore aims to promote all measures that can help to eliminate the prospect of a growth without creating jobs.

Greece therefore intends to actively pursue the implementation of the pact for growth and jobs, which implies progress on issues such as the further deepening of the single market, focusing especially on the digital single market, energy, research, innovation and investment for growth and foreign trade.

Particular attention will be devoted to the objective of increasing lending to small and medium-sized enterprises .

In addition, the Spring European Council will review the implementation of the “main objectives” of the Europe 2020 strateg , so that the mid-term review of the strategy will be completed during the year.

Economic and Monetary Union

The main objective of the Greek Presidency in this area is to safeguard the stability of the single currency .

In this context, the key priority is to progress in the creation of union bank. The Greek Presidency aims to reach an agreement with the European Parliament on the single mechanism for the resolution of the crisis by the end of the current legislature in April 2014.

The social dimension of EMU is also a high priority for the Greek Presidency. In December 2013, the European Council has stated that it is an essential element to deepen the EMU .

Furthermore, the Presidency intends to continue discussions on ” partnerships for growth, employment and competitiveness” , designed to promote structural reforms and investment policies for growth and jobs in the United States.

The Presidency will also ensure the effective implementation of economic governance mechanisms, including the smooth running of the European Semester 2014.

Among the priorities Greece has also included issues related to taxation, with particular emphasis on those related to tax evasion and tax fraud. The Presidency expects to reach a political agreement on the Directive on administrative cooperation in order to enhance the automatic exchange of information. Also, Greece will seek to ensure the adoption, until March 2014, of the Directive on the taxation of savings income and to make progress on other files related to taxation, such as VAT Directives and the Directive on tax on financial transactions ( under enhanced cooperation ).

As far as concern the reform of the supervision of the financial sector, the agreement on the updated framework for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism as a priority for the presidency. The aim is also to conclude work on the control of capital markets continuing discussions about legislation on the markets in financial instruments ( MiFID and the so-called dossier MIFIR ).

Migration, border mobility

The Presidency will focus on a comprehensive policy on border management and promote ” all dimensions of policies on migration and mobility”.

Priority will be given to measures to combat illegal immigration, focusing on readmission and return, combating human trafficking and strengthening institutional capacities in the area of ​​border management, in cooperation with origin countries, and transit of migration flows.

Even the security and freedom of movement within the Union, including the protection of important infrastructure from terrorist attack or other threats are among the priorities of the Presidency, which aims to promote measures to combat terrorism, organized crime, the trafficking and smuggling.

In order to facilitate legal migration and integration, the Presidency intends to reach a political agreement on the Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of intra- corporate transfers .

It will also promote discussion on the period after the Stockholm Programme, which sets out the EU’s priorities in the field of justice , freedom and security for the period 2010-2014 .

Maritime Policy

The Greek Presidency intends to redefine the EU Maritime Policy covering several aspects, such as the environment, tourism, security, foreign trade, migration and other issues.

The Presidency expects that the EU strategy for maritime security can be adopted by the European Council in June 2014.

ECOFIN AGREEMENT ON BANK FAILURES

  • 20 December 2013

At the end of a marathon of negotiations , which lasted twelve hours, the Ecofin has given the green light on the orderly management of bank failures . This Act represents a fundamental shift in the way the EU banking in Europe.

It is a ” historic agreement ” , as defined by the Minister of Economy Fabrizio Saccomanni , and it consist on a mechanism that will allow banks to fail in a controlled manner ( SRM ), avoiding consequences on financial system and both on states.

“We have reached an agreement on the general approach – said Minister Saccomanni – and we covered all the points. I think it was a historic achievement , because in a very short time has arrived to put in place all the essential aspects “. The speed with which the agreement has been defined is an important element , but it is still a long way to go and you need to define the details of the mechanism of resolution.”. The agreement reached by the Ecofin is , in fact , only half of the way of legislation that will now have to pass the scrutiny of the EU Parliament and then back to Ecofin .

The Minister of Economy pointed out that full pooling structures of financial safeguard , in fact, ” it will improve in ten years ,” but ” there are sufficient commitments to ensure that even in the transition there are tools and procedures to manage the situation of crisis . ”

This agreement represents the second stage of the Union Bank , and it is inscribed in the road taken  with the agreement on the ECB supervision.

For Saccomanni is now ” foiled the risk of another Lehman Brothers ,” and Italy is able to obtain a guarantee instrument to provide liquidity in the final analysis ( financial backstop or parachute ) , to prevent -if an institution in resolution ended funds- an unmanageable crisis.

The Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnierc said: ” It ends the era of massive bank bailouts and accounts paid for by taxpayers , which will bring financial stability and better terms of financing the real economy .”

The agreement specifically provides that Member States create a fund -financed by national banks- initially formed by compartments national who later merge into a single fund . In the first year , banks in default will be able to draw just fund of its country, but in later years, with the increase of the resources, there will be a progressive pooling of resources.

The parachute, wanted by Italy, ensure that in the initial phase of the fund ( after the banks self- bailing, that assigns decreases to shareholders, bondholders and large deposits ) , banks have access to bridge financing by the States Member or the rescue fund ESM . It will also be possible loans between compartments of the bailout fund banks.

In addition, the agreement provides for a mechanism to settle with an unique authority ( a board consisting of representatives of the national authorities , acting on the initiative of the ECB ), which can make the decision to derail a bank in difficulty. The decision on the failure of a bank will be taken within 24 hours, as per the wishes of the ECB . The unique mechanism of resolution will apply to all banks supervised by the ECB , will enter into force on January 1, 2015 , while the rules of the ‘ bail-in ‘ exactly a year later.