Eurogroup discusses the economic situation in the euro area
12/02/2013 - News
On 11 February 2013, euro area finance ministers meeting in the Eurogroup took stock of the economic situation in the euro area. They also discussed European Stability Mechanism (ESM) matters, in particular the framework for a direct bank recapitalisation instrument.
Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem
© European Union 2013
At the press conference following the first meeting he chaired, newly elected Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem stated that ministers had discussed the economic situation, on the basis of an outline by the Commission of its forthcoming winter forecast (to be published on 22 February).
Regarding the situation in Cyprus, ministers confirmed that they would like an independent assessment of the implementation of rules for financial institutions. Once this is satisfactorily completed, the Eurogroup could look forward to reaching a decision on a programme for Cyprus in March. The Greek programme, he said, was on track, and in relation to Ireland, he took note of "substantial improvements in terms of market access".
As regards the ESM, ministers continued the discussion on the direct recapitalisation of banks. "In order to preserve the ESM capacity for other instruments and the ESM high credit rating, we agreed to explore the possibility of defining limits for the various ESM instruments," said Mr Dijsselbloem. He also said that ministers had decided to explore options to attract private capital alongside ESM capital injections in order to maximise the direct recapitalisation capacity. The aim is to finalise the operational framework for the direct recapitalisation instrument by June, as requested by the heads of state or government.
After the Eurogroup meeting, Mr Dijsselbloem was elected Chairman of the ESM Board of Governors. He said he was honoured by the confidence his colleagues had shown in him and paid tribute to his predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker "without whom the temporary European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the ESM would not be what they are today".
Later in the evening, euro area ministers of finance bade farewell to Mr Juncker, who chaired the Eurogroup since the establishment of the post of permanent President in 2005 until last month.