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“The Slovenian Presidency successfully carried out its work,” says Slovenian Finance Minister Bajuk

The current President of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council, Slovenian Finance Minister Dr Andrej Bajuk, today in Brussels presented the achievements of the Slovenian Presidency to the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Council (ECOFIN) in the area of the Council's work and pointed out that economic conditions had substantially influenced the work of the Slovenian Presidency.

Minister Bajuk began the meeting by placing the Slovenian Presidency in the context of the current economic situation, since the economy of the EU Member States and the eurozone face a number of risks, including the negative impact of the financial shake-up, inflationary pressures mainly due to high food and oil prices, and protectionist measures influencing world trade. He explained that the "stability provided by the European Monetary Union, a healthy financial position, an improved financial position of households and enterprises, and further pursuit of structural reforms have contributed to the increased resistance of EU households, which places us in a good position for addressing the challenges we face."

At the end of a six-month Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council, Dr Bajuk presented the progress made in the main files in ECOFIN's area of activity during the Slovenian Presidency, namely in coordination of economic policy, financial services, taxation and international matters. Later, he answered questions from deputies.

The Slovenian Presidency paid significant attention to further integration of the financial services market. Minister Bajuk especially underlined the important progress made in implementing three roadmaps: on responses to current financial market developments, on improved supervision within the financial system and on providing financial stability and crisis management in the EU. "Regarding the roadmap on providing financial stability in the EU, during the Slovenian Presidency we concluded an agreement on the Memorandum of Cooperation between financial supervisory authorities, central banks and finance ministers of the European Union on cross-border financial stability, which was signed by all 113 institutions and entered into force on 1 June 2008. The Memorandum determines procedures and practical guidelines on participation by all relevant actors involved in a crisis situation and preparations for such a situation. Important steps have also been taken in respect of financial supervision in the EU by adopting five objectives for enhancing the responsibility of financial supervisors: strengthening the European mandate of national supervisors, improved functioning of EU-level supervisory committees, cooperation of supervisors within colleges of supervisors for individual cross-border financial groups, agreement on speeding up work relating to the convergence of regulatory and financial reporting, and committing to continuing work on sharing burdens in the event of a financial crisis.Important progress was also made in implementing the four main objectives of the roadmap in response to financial shake-ups: reinforcing transparency, improving valuation standards, reinforcing the existing prudential framework and improving market functioning, including the work of credit rating agencies. Dr Bajuk emphasised the successful work on the proposal of the Solvency II Directive, which will regulate the method of implementation of insurance and reinsurance companies and up-date provisions regarding their capital adequacy. "I am pleased to note that we have found acceptable solutions in almost all areas and that out of 313 Articles in the Directive only a limited number remained unresolved, two main questions are the prudential supervision of insurance undertakings and the European Commission's proposals for innovative arrangement of the cross-border assistance by the groups. For solving these two problems, the Slovenian Presidency included several ideas into its compromise proposal."

In the area of the coordination of economic policy, Minister Bajuk stressed the successful launch of the second three-year cycle of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs, and adoption of the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines for the period 2008–2010. He proceeded by saying that “the Slovenian Presidency ensured the smooth admission of the Slovak Republic to the eurozone, and ECOFIN will adopt all the necessary legal bases on 8 July. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the European Central Bank and the European Monetary Union we had the first exchange of views. At the ECOFIN meetings we discussed best practices for improving the quality and sustainability of public finance to develop more efficient and sustainable social security schemes in the EU. We paid special attention to high food and oil prices, and more short-term and long-term measures that we reported to the European Council."Throughout the presidency, the ECOFIN paid a special attention to situation on financial markets.The ECOFIN regularly oversaw the current fluctuations and analysed their causes and consequences for macroeconomic aggregates and financial sector in the EU."

Minister Bajuk stated that the Slovenian Presidency had worked very hard to make progress regarding the proposal for technical amendments to the VAT Directive, the proposal on VAT taxation of insurance and financial services, and the proposal for a directive on the general arrangement for excise duty. "We endeavoured in particular to combat tax fraud and actively contributed to drive forward the preparations for the discussion on the operation of the Council Directive on savings, taking into account recent instances of tax fraud and tax evasion."

Dr Bajuk concluded with international issues: "The Slovenian Presidency reached agreement on a common attitude of the EU on quotas and voting rights in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) within the framework of the adopted IMF reform. With this adoption an important shift in representing dynamic economies has been made, of which many are in countries with emerging new markets, giving poorer countries more importance in managing this multilateral institution."


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Date: 27.06.2008