The Eurogroup is an informal body in which the ministers from the euro area member states discuss matters relating to their countries' common responsibilities related to the euro.
Its main task is to ensure close coordination of economic policies among the euro area member states and promote conditions for stronger economic growth. Policy coordination among the euro area countries is crucial for ensuring stability in the euro area as a whole.
The Eurogroup's discussions therefore cover specific euro-related matters as well as broader issues that have an impact on the fiscal, monetary and structural policies of the euro area member states. It aims to identify common challenges and find common approaches to them.
It is also responsible for preparing the Euro Summit meetings and for their follow-up.
The Eurogroup's role was set out in Protocol No 14 to the Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force on 1 December 2009.
The Eurogroup regularly discusses:
In addition, the Eurogroup may hold preliminary discussions on Council decisions that would apply only to the euro area member states. When the Council adopts such decisions, only the ministers from the euro area member states vote at the Council.
The Eurogroup also discusses the terms of financial assistance for euro area countries experiencing severe financial difficulties.
The Eurogroup usually meets once a month, on the eve of the Economic and Financial Affairs (Ecofin) Council meeting. If necessary, additional meetings or teleconferences can also be held. The meetings are informal, and the discussions are confidential.
The participants of the Eurogroup meetings are:
The managing director of the European Stability Mechanism is invited to participate in the meetings too. The IMF is invited to participate in discussions on the economic programmes in which it is involved.
The outcome of the meeting is presented to the public by the the Eurogroup president at a press conference. The Eurogroup may, in addition, issue written public statements. The president also debriefs the Ecofin Council.
The 6-month work programme and priorities of the Eurogroup
The Eurogroup adopts its work programme every 6 months. The programme defines the main areas of focus and sets preliminary agendas for the upcoming Eurogroup meetings.
The agenda and discussions for each Eurogroup meeting are prepared by the Eurogroup president, with the assistance of the Eurogroup Working Group, which is composed of the euro area members of the Economic and Financial Committee.
The Eurogroup members elect the Eurogroup president for a term of two and a half years by a simple majority of votes.
If the president is prevented from fulfilling his or her duties, he or she is replaced by the finance minister of the country that holds the presidency of the Council. If the presiding country is not a member of the euro area, the finance minister of the next euro area country to hold the presidency of the Council takes over.