Remarks by J.Dijsselbloem following the Eurogroup meeting of 16 June 2016
Eurogroup President Spokesperson
Good evening and welcome to this press conference. During our meeting we heard the sad news of the passing away of Mrs Jo Cox in the United Kingdom, and we observed a moment of silence in our meeting out of respect for her. Our thoughts are with her loved ones and all those who were touched by her life and political work for the UK. The United Kingdom is a beacon for peaceful politics and we hope that the British public, the people of the UK, can make their democratic choices serenely and in a safe way next week.
Today we've welcomed Christine Lagarde, who presented the article IV review of the euro zone. The IMF sees the euro area cyclical recovery on track, despite turbulence in the global economy. This good news follows on from the achievements of the euro area in recent years including rebalancing and reforms at national level and strengthening of institutions throughout the eurozone, for the eurozone. We have built a banking union, set up new institutions, created a single rulebook, the SSM and the SRB, all of which are all up and running. And the work will continue on the strengthening of our banking system. Structural reforms remain high on our agenda and will continue to be discussed in depth in the Eurogroup, and it will also be on the agenda of tomorrow's Ecofin in the context of the European Semester and the country specific recommendations.
At the same time, we concurred with IMF that we need to make our economies more resilient, certainly viewing any future economic shocks that may occur. This means using the opportunities that we have at the moment, for example low interest rates, trying to address budgetary issues, starting to reduce deleveraging and reducing debt levels throughout the eurozone. It also means continued work on the banking union, reforming our economies to make them more flexible, to help them adjust faster.
The Fund has provided us with number of recommendations and ideas on how we can support growth further at the European level, including fiscal policies and structural policies, and we will continue to work on that. One of the ways we do that is by discussing in depth structural reforms, the design, the principles and the benchmarks for reforms, which is something that is on the agenda of the Eurogroup on the regular basis.
Today specifically, we discussed common principles for pension reforms in the Eurogroup, one of our regular thematic discussions. We have designed four common principles, which will improve the effectiveness of pension reforms (the statement will be provided to you on those principles), making our pension systems more sustainable, safeguarded against demographic and macroeconomic risks, but also designing flanking policies to extend the working lives of people and to boost retirement incomes.
We will periodically in the Eurogroup monitor developments in this field, the way we've done on other issues of structural reforms, and return to those, creating benchmarks for our work on structural reforms.
Also today we discussed, as we do on a regular basis, inflation and exchange rate developments, and we agreed with the Commission and the ECB's assessment of recent development in this area. We noted that the IMF also considers that the ECB's comprehensive package of measures is yielding positive effects. Inflation rates are expected to pick up later this year and increase further gradually in 2017. Now let me first give the floor to Christine, who would like to brief us further on their work on the eurozone