Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni's introductory remarks at the Eurogroup press conference

Source: European Commission (EC) i, published on Thursday, December 5 2019.

Thank you very much Mario for your kind words. It was my first Eurogroup. I am grateful to Mario that you were able to end it before midnight.

We presented our reports on Greece, Cyprus and Spain.

First of all on Greece, let me begin by saying that on Tuesday I had a very positive first meeting with the Finance Minister, Christos Staikouras.

The country, according to our report, is now well on the road to recovery. Obviously, as Mario said, challenges remain, but the Government is strongly committed to facing these challenges. Yesterday, during the discussion we had during the Eurogroup, the Minister was very clear about these commitments. So, good news for Greece. The Commission and ESM will continue in their cooperation with the Greek authorities.

We had an interesting and good discussion on the Draft Budgetary Plans. Not so much on any single Draft Budgetary Plan of any of the 19 countries, but on the general fiscal policies.

I am convinced that, more than ever, we need to have differentiated and coordinated fiscal policies. We are not 19 separate economies, but one Economic and Monetary Union.

This means, first of all, compliance with the existing rules. Maybe we will discuss the rules, but now we must comply with them. Secondly, we need to be ready to be more active with fiscal policy should the downside risks materialise. The Eurogroup statement is openly mentioning this readiness. Thirdly, we need to increase public investment, especially those connected to climate change and the environmental transition.

We made, as Mario said, progress on ESM. We are reaching a positive agreement. This positive agreement is inside a package. We did not discuss this time the BICC, but it is part of the package. On the ESM, you know that the Commission is not a signatory of the treaty, but we were active in facilitating the process and we are having a memorandum of cooperation with the ESM establishing the forms of our cooperation. I have to say that I repeated yesterday what is our thinking as a Commission that the perspective should be in the future to have the integration of the ESM in the EU i legal framework. This remains, from the Commission's point of view, a goal.

Finally, concerning EDIS, I would say ce n'est qu'un début. It's something. It is very relevant that, a couple of years ago, this door appeared to be closed. Now it has been reopened. The process will not be easy. The process yesterday clearly showed the differences. Mario was very precise in what he will report to the European Council on this. The beginning of the discussion was there. We have, I think, the possibility to have it in the next five years. This appears very long, but it is very challenging and very relevant to have this third leg of our package completed.

So, small steps, but I think relevant steps in the right direction.

Thank you.