L-R: Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank; Pierre Gramegna, Luxembourg's Minister of Finance; Credit: Mario Salerno

Luxembourg's outgoing Minister of Finance, Pierre Gramegna, travelled to Brussels on 6 and 7 December 2021 to represent the Grand Duchy one last time at the Eurogroup and ECOFIN meetings.

Discussions during the two days mainly focused on the economic and budgetary situation in Europe, tax issues as well as the post-pandemic recovery.

During the Eurogroup meeting, Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), presented her analysis of the economic situation within the eurozone. Minister Gramegna commented: “Europe is moving forward in crises! Let us be proud of the progress made over the past two years. It is thanks to the European solidarity displayed at the Eurogroup, thanks to the temporary suspension of the Stability and Growth Pact and the temporary supervision of State aid by the European Commission as well as thanks to the intelligent monetary policy of the European Central Bank that Europe has managed to emerge stronger from this health crisis”. He added: "Confronted with growing uncertainty, our continent must know how to respond to the principle of the philosopher Heraclitus that everything passes and nothing remains, and that change is perpetual. Europe has undeniably shown its resilience by implementing targeted policies, and I remain convinced that it will continue to show an innovative and constructive spirit in the future. This is why I recommend renaming the Stability and Growth Pact as "Sustainable Development Pact", emphasising qualitative growth and giving priority to public investments in favour of the fight against the climate crisis”.

At the ECOFIN meeting, the 27 ministers reached unanimous political agreement on the proposal for a directive reforming the system of reduced VAT rates. Minister Gramegna said: “This compromise solution will ensure common rules for all Member States, which can now set reduced rates for a higher number of goods and services. More importantly, this solution eliminates favorable rates for fossil fuels or environmentally harmful products. This therefore provides additional clarity, increased flexibility, and is an important step in advancing the green and sustainable transition in the EU. Increased flexibility is a common thread running through the entire directive and will make it easier for all Member States to adapt VAT rates to the 2032 deadline".

At the end of these meetings, Luxembourg's Finance Minister bade farewell to his Eurogroup and ECOFIN colleagues: “I have participated in 106 Eurogroup meetings and 93 ECOFIN meetings over the past eight years as Minister of Finance of Luxembourg. I would like to thank all my colleagues with whom I have worked tirelessly to move Europe forward. At my first meeting of the Eurogroup in December 2013, we concluded the historic agreement which gave life to the Banking Union and since then we have gradually made progress in our action to strengthen Europe's financial stability. At ECOFIN, we have succeeded in reshaping and reshaping together, with the OECD, European taxation to make it more transparent and fairer. Finally, the European solidarity shown by European countries during the health crisis remains for me one of the highlights of the past eight years. Europe is today stronger and more united”.

On the issue of the Capital Markets Union, Minister Gramegna returned to the subject of European taxonomy and reaffirmed Luxembourg's position against the inclusion of nuclear energy in this taxonomy.