Minister Šircelj attended an informal video conference of economics and finance ministers
Minister Andrej Šircelj today attended an informal video conference of economics and finance ministers (the ECOFIN Council). The meeting started with the presentation of the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency Programme. In the continuation, ministers discussed the state of play and implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the 2021 European Semester, and the Action Plan for Non-Performing Loans.
In the work of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council, the Portuguese Presidency will focus on the implementation of the multiannual financial framework and the Next Generation EU recovery instrument and the approval of national recovery and resilience plans.
The Recovery and Resilience Facility is key to Member States’ recovery. Ministers exchanged views on the priorities of national recovery and resilience plans. They agreed that sustainability and green recovery should be at the forefront.
"Time is of the essence. The implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility should start as soon as possible. Slovenia’s recovery and resilience plan is in the pipeline. We will focus our efforts on supporting economic growth, development, and innovation. Furthermore, we will pay special attention to supporting green and digital investments. Digital transformation of companies and the public sector in Slovenia is planned. Sustainable projects that promote the use of renewable sources in the economy will enable green transition. The planned changes will provide new opportunities for employment and restructuring into new sectors," explained Minister Šircelj.
As part of the 2021 European Semester item, ministers supported the draft Council conclusions on the Alert Mechanism Report 2021 and the draft recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area for 2021.
The European Commission presented its Action Plan for Non-Performing Loans, which is intended to prevent the future build-up of non-performing loans as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Ministers agreed that the extent of non-performing loans must be carefully monitored. It is essential that banks continue to provide funding to households and businesses, in particular SMEs.
"The measures which we adopted to tackle the epidemic prevented an increase in the share of non-performing loans in Slovenia. We must ensure that financing will be available also when the measures are no longer in force. With respect to the non-performing loans in Slovenia, the current situation is good. We must preserve robustness, resilience, and financial stability at all levels, which should also be the basic premise of the Action Plan for Non-Preforming Loans," commented Mr Šircelj.
On Monday, 18 January, Minister Šircelj attended a video conference of the Eurogroup. Ministers discussed how the COVID-19 epidemic affected macroeconomic imbalances at the euro area level. Despite the risk of increasing macroeconomic imbalances, ministers agreed that the development of vaccines and the start of vaccination are good news. They also agreed that support to households, workers, and companies must continue as the extensions of restrictions affect economic activity.
They also talked about the national recovery and resilience plans. Strategic orientation, green and digital criteria, and country-specific recommendations will be the most important aspects of the plans. It is important that funds are available as soon as possible in order to embark on the path of sustainable recovery as quickly as possible.
The meeting ended with a debate about future relations between the European Union and the United States in the monetary and financial area. For recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 epidemic, global cooperation will play an important role as all countries face similar difficulties, and cooperation enables us to find good solutions.