|Spring 2018 Economic Forecast: Expansion to continue amid new risks
The Spring 2018 Economic Forecast published today shows that growth rates for the EU and the euro area beat expectations in 2017 to reach a 10-year high at 2.4%. Growth is set to remain strong in 2018 and ease only slightly in 2019, with growth of 2.3% and 2.0% respectively in both the EU and the euro area. Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said:”The economic expansion in Europe is set to continue at a solid pace this year and next, supporting further job creation. However, we also see increased risks on the horizon. This is why we should use the current good times to make our economies more resilient. This means building fiscal buffers, reforming our economies to foster productivity and investment, and making our growth model more inclusive. It also means strengthening the foundations of our Economic and Monetary Union.” Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “Europe continues to enjoy robust growth, which has helped drive unemployment to a ten-year low. Investment is rising and public finances are improving, with the deficit in the euro area set to drop to just 0.7% of GDP this year. The biggest risk to this rosy outlook is protectionism, which must not become the new normal: that would only hurt those of our citizens we most need to protect.” The full press release is available in all languages here. The full Spring 2018 Economic Forecast is available here. Commissioner Moscovici’s remarks will shortly be available here.
EUROSTAT flash estimate – April 2018 – Euro area annual inflation down to 1.2%
Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 1.2% in April2018, down from 1.3% in March2018, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Full text available here
DiscoverEU: 15,000 young people 18 years old will get the opportunity to travel in Europe during this summer
Today, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, alongside the Member of the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, participated in a stakeholders’ meeting on DiscoverEU, a new initiative from the European Union that offers 18 year old EU citizens the opportunity to discover their continent. With a budget of EUR 12 million in 2018, this action, based on a proposal from the European Parliament, is expected to give 15,000 young people the opportunity to travel around Europe this summer in order to discover the continent’s rich cultural heritage, get in touch with other people, learn from other cultures and as such discover what unites Europe. Participants can travel up to 30 days and can visit between 1 and 4 foreign destinations. As 2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage, the travellers will have the chance to participate in the many events that are taking place all over Europe. In an application round to select the first 15,000 travellers, those interested will need to apply over a two-week period in the month of June 2018 via the European Youth Portal. Applicants must be 18 years old on 1 July 2018, EU citizens, and prepared to travel this summer. A jury will make the final selection of the first 15,000 recipients. A second round of applications in the second half of 2018 may be organised based on the remaining budget and feedback from participants travelling this summer. More details about the initiative will be published mid-May on the European Youth Portal website. Information will also be disseminated through the European Youth Facebook page and the European Youth twitter account.
Financial integration and stability: Good headway made in EU banking sector and capital markets, with further progress in reach
The EU banking sector is benefiting from a strong economy and supportive financing conditions, a new report by the European Commission out today shows. The performance of European banks has improved and their resilience has increased thanks to the restructuring of balance sheets. Nevertheless, the sector continues to be challenged by tight interest margins and the provisions that banks are having to make for non-performing loans. Over the past year, growth in the banking sector was stimulated by supportive economic and monetary policy measures such as the European Central Bank’s asset purchase programme and the prolonged low interest rates. Today’s report, known as the European Financial Stability and Integration Review (EFSIR), also shows that the Commission’s risk reduction effort is also being reflected on the ground. Banks have increased their capital position, and limited their exposure to market risk by reducing bond and derivative portfolios. Nevertheless, the report finds that local capital markets continue to be very unevenly developed in Europe. In particular, markets in central, eastern, and south-eastern Europe lag behind those in western Europe, in terms of both size and liquidity. On the plus side, capital market integration is improving and firms’ market-based funding increased, in line with the objectives of the Capital Markets Union. The EFSIR report is an annual stock-take of recent developments in the financial sector. It was presented today at the yearly European Financial Integration and Stability conference, organised jointly by the Commission services and the ECB in Frankfurt. The full report is available online. The programme of the conference is available here and can be followed here. The ECB’s press release can be found here.
Commission withdraws cases from the Court against Bulgaria and Portugal
The European Commission has decided to withdraw three cases from the Court of Justice of the EU in the areas of the maritime policy, the collective management of copyrights (two cases brought against Bulgaria) and maritime transport (a case brought against Portugal) because the Member States have in the meantime complied with EU law.
The EU and Member States together with Switzerland agree joint cooperation framework with Bolivia worth €530 million
During an official visit to Bolivia, between 3 to 5 May, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica, will announce the adoption of a Joint European Strategy for Bolivia 2017-2020 worth more than €530 million. Under this Strategy, the EU, its Member States present in Bolivia (France, Spain, United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden and Germany) and Switzerland have agreed to align and coordinate their development cooperation interventions in order to strengthen their impact, reduce fragmentation and increase the effectiveness of the EU’s contribution to development in Bolivia. Ahead of the visit Commissioner Mimica said: “The EU’s partnership with Bolivia is stronger than ever with the launch of Bolivia’s first Joint European Strategy of €530 million that we have elaborated in close cooperation with the Bolivian government. This Strategy aims at creating a common framework for the EU’s development cooperation in Bolivia in line with the Aid Effectiveness principle and the European Consensus on Development. This Joint Strategy will help to deliver a truly European development policy“. This Strategy is a good example of EU Joint Programming in third countries in line with the new European Consensus on Development adopted last year. During his stay, Commissioner Mimica will also visit projects with Bolivian President Morales in the Chapare region with a focus on integral development (banana packing cooperative and aquiculture) and on the fight against illicit drugs. The full press release is available online.
Commissioner Bieńkowska in Sofia to discuss the European Semester and defence
Tomorrow and Saturday, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, SMEs and Entrepreneurship, will be in Sofia. On Friday, she will meet Mr Boyko Borissov, holder of the rotating Council Presidency and Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Mr Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister, Ms Marinela Petrova, Deputy Finance Minister, and Mr Emil Karanikolov, Economy Minister. They will discuss the key recommendations for Bulgaria identified in the context of the European Semester, in particular in the areas of public procurement, business environment and access to finance. Commissioner Bieńkowska will also meet with Mr Atanas Zapryanov, Deputy Defence Minister, to discuss the European Defence Fund. They are expected to exchange on the state of play of negotiations on the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) following her participation in the dedicated trilogue today, as well as the EU long-term budget proposal for defence. On Saturday, she will attend the Informal Meeting of Foreign Affairs Council on Defence to discuss the contribution of the European Defence Fund to the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the perspectives for crisis management in the light of current security challenges and a potential cooperation among international organisations.