Ladies and gentlemen: we have just concluded the first ECOFIN under the French Presidency.
I would like to wish Bruno and your team every success in steering through many important files during your presidency.
I welcome the Presidency's focus on economic policies for Europe's recovery and on finding ways to finance future growth.
Overall, the recovery is on track.
But there is still a good deal of uncertainty.
We must remain vigilant, especially since a combination of factors is likely to drag on the near term growth.
Notably: a rapid rise in infections and the resulting restrictions, supply chain bottlenecks, labour shortages and the recent surge in energy prices.
While these negative factors are lasting longer than first anticipated, they should ease in the course of this year. We still expect the EU's economic growth to continue this year and next.
As a result, conditions are in place for a gradual withdrawal of policy support.
This brings me to the upcoming review of the EU's fiscal rules.
Now that the public consultation is complete, we need to take stock of its findings and also listen to the debate that Member States will have over the next few months.
At the Eurogroup yesterday, ministers discussed the euro area fiscal framework relevant or specific for the euro area.
We welcome the French Presidency's ambition to work intensively on the review and steer the discussion so we can see how best to adjust our fiscal and macroeconomic rules to post-crisis realities.
The Commission will provide orientations on a possible way forward, with a view to reaching a broad-based consensus well in time for 2023.
We welcome the French Presidency's intention to make progress in other important policy areas, particularly the Capital Markets Union and Banking Union. Both will be important for the recovery phase.
And we are pleased to see its focus in other areas such as anti-money laundering, digital finance and sustainable finance.
And also on tax policy: in particular implementing last year's OECD tax agreement, which should be done as soon as possible.
For the Commission, this is a major step towards our fair taxation agenda.
Today, ministers held a first discussion of our proposed Directive to ensure a minimum effective tax rate of 15% for the global activities of multinationals with a worldwide turnover of more than €750 million.
All Member States need to apply this Directive to ensure the good functioning of the single market and to avoid any distortions in a closely integrated economy like that of the European Union.
This will not only help to fight against tax avoidance and evasion. It will also allow Europe to play its full part in creating a fairer global system for corporate taxation.
Lastly, a brief update on the Recovery and Resilience Facility.
We are firmly in the implementation phase.
Most national plans are in place, financing is starting to flow and the new online scoreboard shows everyone clearly how the money is being spent.
While no implementing decisions were presented at ECOFIN today, the Council may be tasked with adopting the remaining Recovery and Resilience Plans during the French Presidency:
The Commission has raised €71 billion in long-term funding and disbursed €56.3 billion in pre-financing to 20 Member States.
The latest payments were to Estonia, Malta and Romania. We expect to disburse to Finland in the coming weeks.
On payment requests, the Commission is now assessing those received from France, Greece and Italy. I can remind that we already made the first regular payment to Spain at the end of last year.