Finance Minister highlights economic priorities of Italian EU Presidency

Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna addresses the economic and financial priorities of the Italian Presidency

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna

Structural reforms and investment are needed for growth and employment, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said.

Scicluna was speaking during the first Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) under the Italian Presidency in Brussels.

“The fiscal consolidation efforts, as happens in major surgery, left the economic body dilapidated. While the bad parts were cut off, some of the good parts were unfortunately removed as well. That is why structural reforms and investment are now needed for growth and employment,” the minister said.

Scicluna spoke about the agenda of the Presidency in the economic and financial area, which includes the Review of the EU 2020 agenda, finance for growth and incentives for reforms as its three priority pillars.

The Europe 2020 agenda is the European Union’s ten-year growth and jobs strategy that was launched in 2010. The current review of the EU 2020 being pursued provides an opportunity to refocus the agenda’s policy objectives and instruments on the true drivers of growth and investment.

On the finance for growth pillar, the Presidency is focusing on enhancing the business environment while mobilising the necessary funds to stimulate investment, recognising that stronger investment will consolidate the recovery and put the EU on a more robust path. 

On the pillar concerning incentives for reforms, the Council discussed ways and means to pursue incentives for reform at a time when Europe is facing modest growth perspectives and lost opportunities.

“There could be instances were a fine balance would need to be found between structural reforms and fiscal consolidation, without undoing the consolidation successes accomplished so far,” Scicluna said.

The Council was also debriefed on the current negotiations being undertaken by the Commission in updating the existing Community Savings agreements with the five third countries (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco and San Marino) and the progress being made on the Asset Quality Review being undertaken by the European Central Bank.

Minister Scicluna was accompanied by Malta's Permanent Representative to the European Union, Ambassador Marlene Bonnici, and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Finance, Alfred Camilleri.