Miniter Gramegna at Ecofin meeting in Berlin, 11-12 September 2020; Credit: BMF/Thomas Koehler/photothek

On Friday 11 and Saturday 12 September 2020 , Luxembourg's Minister of Finance, Pierre Gramegna, participated in the Eurogroup meeting and the informal meeting of ECOFIN which took place in Berlin within the framework of the German presidency of the Council of European Union; it was the first face-to-face meeting of finance ministers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Gramegna welcomed the 19-party discussions at the Eurogroup on economic recovery in Europe, economic reforms and fiscal policies in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. He stressed in this context: “The COVID-19 crisis is both a daunting challenge and an important reminder that policymakers in all member states must put in place ambitious reform programmes that will help achieve the double transition: green and digital. This is why it is important to keep public investments at high levels over the next few years, while remaining prudent in the management of public finances."

On the European recovery plan, Minister Gramegna called for “rapid and effective implementation". He further commented: "If Europe wants the recovery plan to be a success, we must ensure that national recovery policies are best coordinated within the Eurogroup. Only a united Europe can ensure sustained and lasting recovery."

Meeting at the Eurogroup in an inclusive format, the finance ministers of the twenty-seven member states took stock of the progress of work on banking union and, against the background of the related economic crisis, to COVID-19, they agreed on an accelerated work programme for the next few months. Minister Gramegna underlined the importance of a well-capitalised banking system in supporting the real economy and insisted on the rapid implementation of the reform of the European Stability Mechanism, allowing the latter to strengthen the safety nets of Banking Union.

Own resources and taxation in the 21st century

During the working sessions of ECOFIN, the twenty-seven ministers had an exchange of views on the financing of European priorities through new EU-specific resources and digital taxation, as well as future architecture of European and international taxation. Minister Gramegna declared to this effect: "Luxembourg is ready to discuss the introduction of new own resources at European level, especially if these make it possible to contribute to meeting our climate objectives and on condition that initiatives envisaged do not harm Europe's competitiveness."

On the subject of digital taxation, Minister Gramegna underlined “The objective of an agreement at the level of the OECD must remain our priority, Luxembourg having demonstrated in recent years its constructive approach in the discussions relating to OECD and EU level." For the European discussions, Minister Gramegna expressed the wish that we continue to pursue the search for consensus which is the guarantor of unity within the European Union.

On the side-lines of the meetings, Minister Gramegna had an interview with his Irish counterpart and new Eurogroup President, Paschal Donohoe, to exchange views on the Eurogroup's priorities for the coming months.