PositionEconomic and Financial Affairs Council

The Slovenian EU Presidency, on 22 January, submited to Ecofin ministers the initial version of the Council's contribution to the forthcoming spring economic summit. The main points are as follows:

Solid growth despite everything. While Jean-Claude Juncker is counting on a growth of between 1.8% and 1.9% for the eurozone in 2008 (well below the European Commission's forecasts), the Slovenian Presidency estimates that the growth of the EU should be maintained at its potential of around 2% this year (the same for 2009).a With regard to inflationary risks, the Presidency estimates on the other hand that expectations remain "secure" for the medium term (despite the rise in prices recorded in the EU since August 2007). The Presidency considers nevertheless that it is "important" to avoid the second-round effects and underlines that one of the main objectives of the EU is to ensure sustainable productivity.

Lisbon agenda: no dated objectives. In accordance with the Commission's opinion on the new triennial cycle (2008-2010) for the Lisbon Strategy the Presidency "largely shares" the evaluation of the EU executive, which remains "the good framework for the agenda of reforms". With regard to integrated guidelines, these "remain valid and should not be changed" despite repeated requests from MEPs. At this stage, Ecofin does not, however, reckon on taking up, in full length, the Commission's new detailed proposals (these set dated objectives). The report settles for resuming the spirit of the...

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