Press Releases Remarks by Paschal Donohoe following the Eurogroup meeting of 23 February 2024

Remarks by Paschal Donohoe following the Eurogroup meeting of 23 February 2024

Hello everybody,

it is really great to be here again and to be here in this magnificent stadium. I want to extend my thanks to Vincent and the Belgian presidency for their excellent hospitality, and as I said, for such an original location within which we can do our work.

I will quickly run you through the agenda and the content of today’s meeting, noting also that we were joined by the chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, Irene Tinagli.

All of our discussions today were in inclusive format, so we invited and welcomed our non-euro friends and colleagues, and all of the discussion today was on the very important topic of the future of European capital and financial markets.

We are now at the end of a very thorough reflection process, which started under a year ago, in response to the call by the leaders of the European Union, for all of us to step up our efforts to take forward the Capital Markets Union. Together with all of my colleagues, we analysed where the EU stands in the global context as this is an area which needs renewed political attention. We heard from the private sector, from different market players and businesses on their experience on what is good and what could be better within the European Union.

We all agreed on the urgency in making progress and on the need to take action. The ultimate aim is to provide European companies with the financing opportunities, with the capital to innovate, to grow in Europe rather than having to leave to other continents and other parts of the world to grow and scale up. It’s about providing more attractive investment and saving opportunities for our citizens. We are looking into both how to strengthen national capital markets from the bottom-up and how to improve integration among them from the top-down, at how we can strengthen the availability of capital and capital markets themselves in individual countries.

Now, a lot has already been achieved by co-legislators, by the institutions that are represented here today. But all of us know we still have a way to go, and I’d argue that we face a political urgency to focus our efforts to deliver more.

So today ministers discussed a draft statement, which provided a list of policy ambitions and measures, that would, over time, lead to a stronger and more united capital market within the European Union.

More specifically, there are three priority areas which were referred to as the “ABC” of the future of European capital markets:

  • the “A” of architecture is for how we can reduce barriers, how we can develop a better regulatory and supervisory system that works for businesses, investors and savers;
  • the “B” is for business, what we need to ensure that businesses, especially smaller businesses, looking to grow quicker, have access as well as the knowledge and capacity to benefit from the appropriate funding to grow and remain competitive in Europe;
  • and then the “C”, which stands for our focus on citizens, what we can do to create opportunities for them and facilitate access to capital markets for retail investors.

We had a long discussion on these, with many ministers offering strong points of view on many of the topics that we discussed. This provided both additional direction and also additional work that all of us need to do to agree a statement at our March Eurogroup meeting. I will then report back on our work to leaders at the Euro Summit at the end of March, which myself and President Lagarde will attend.

There is a further “A” that matters so much in all of this, which is the “A” of ambition. We have achieved much, but it’s clearly obvious to all of us that we need to achieve far more.

Finally, we also concluded on two points: work regarding an updated draft budgetary plan statement with regards to Slovakia and, ending on a very positive note, with the reappointment of Tuomas Saarenheimo as president of the Eurogroup Working Group, after all his excellent work over the past four years. We look forward to working with him in the next two.

Thank you very much.

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