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Discussions about the road to recovery in the EU at the informal meeting of economic and financial affairs ministers

Minister Andrej Šircelj attended the informal meeting of economic and financial affairs ministers in Lisbon on 21 and 22 May. The recovery following the COVID 19 pandemic remains a key priority of the EU Member States. It is important for the European Union that an inclusive and balanced recovery process ensures resilience and stimulates green and digital transitions at the same time.

Ministers standing in front of the meeting venue

Informal meeting of economic and financial affairs ministers | Author Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021/Antonio Pedro Santos/LUSA

"Despite the recently improved economic outlook for the EU, the uneven effect of the epidemic on different groups of people, businesses, and sectors remains a challenge. Hence, we have to develop measures  that will enhance the effectiveness of recovery and inclusiveness as well as stimulate growth through investments. It is important that the support measures are not withdrawn prematurely. It is also of key importance that the national recovery and resilience plans are approved as soon as possible. The process will be arduous, but the efforts will pay off. With the approved plans, the EU Member States will have access to resources to help people and the economy," Minister Šircelj said.

In relation to the recovery, the ministers also discussed the future of environmental taxation in the European Union. The European Commission said it would present the “Fit for 55” package on 14 June. Part of this will be a proposal on the carbon border adjustment mechanism and the proposal to amend the Energy Taxation Directive, both of which are key elements of environmental taxation. The ministers agreed that we must strive to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. In the process, they will try to take into account both environmental and social aspects and specificities of individual countries, while also striving to ensure that the new environmental tax proposals will not lead to additional administrative burdens or reduce competitiveness.

On the first day of the informal meeting, the ministers and governors of the central banks of the EU Member States discussed reinforcing  the joint impact of fiscal and monetary policies. The fiscal and monetary policy’ measures taken to mitigate the negative effects of the COVID‑19 epidemic, both at national levels and at the EU level, ensured that the economy was not affected to a greater extent and that the signs of economic recovery are already visible. 

The ministers and governors also discussed cooperation between the financial and non‑financial sectors of the economy in the process of recovery. They agreed that emergency measures will have to be replaced by targeted support measures which will stimulate the recovery and help prospective businesses. However, a great deal of precaution will be required in choosing the right moment to start the transition to such support measures.