EU Commissioner Gentiloni remarks at the Eurogroup press conference
“Check against delivery”
We had a positive meeting of the Eurogroup, as Mario said. This afternoon I set out for the Eurogroup the key findings of the Spring Forecast of the Commission:
A deep but uneven recession this year, followed by an incomplete and, again, an uneven recovery; A real risk of worsening divergence which could undermine the single market and the euro area; And a strong case for a robust and common response, very high uncertainty and risks skewed to the downside.
We appreciated the convergence of analysis of our Spring Forecast with that of the European Central Bank.
Our main objective today, as Mario said, was to agree on the Pandemic Crisis Support and that objective has been achieved.
Let me underline three key points in relation to this agreement.
First, on eligibility. The Commission published yesterday the preliminary assessments on debt sustainability, financing needs and financial stability risks in cooperation with the ECB and ESM. The economic and financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic entails important risks for the financial stability of the euro area. At the same time, the economic and the public finance situation in the euro area Member States is fundamentally sound and the debt levels of each and every one of them are sustainable. This is the conclusion.
As such, our conclusion is positive regarding the eligibility of all euro area Member States to benefit from this support. I welcome the fact that the Eurogroup concurs with this assessment.
Second, on conditionality. I think that we could not be clearer that there is only one requirement to access this credit line, and Mario quoted it.
Third, and linked to this, a word on monitoring and surveillance. As we made clear in our letter yesterday, the Commission intends to apply the requirements setting out in EU law in a streamlined way that reflects the nature of this symmetric shock and is proportionate to the features and use of the Pandemic Crisis Support.
As detailed in our letter, the monitoring and reporting requirements will vary depending on the stages in the use of the instrument.
To request access, Member States will have to present an estimation of their direct and indirect healthcare, cure and prevention costs linked to the COVID-19 crisis. When a Member State draws funds from this credit line, the so-called ‘enhanced surveillance’ that the Commission will carry out willl focus only, I repeat, only, on monitoring the use of the funds and their coherence with the scope. There will be no additional missions carried out.
In short, one condition, and streamlined monitoring related solely to that condition. Full stop.
Once this agreement is formally endorsed by the ESM’s governing bodies, we will I think have added a very useful instrument to our crisis response toolbox. Then of course, it is the sovereign decision of each Member State to decide whether they wish to apply for this support.
The European Council has requested that this package, potentially worth more than half a trillion euros, be operational by 1 June. I think today we have taken another important step towards that goal and I am very confident that we will achieve it.
As you know the Commission is working on the next step of our common crisis response, a revised proposal for our multiannual financial framework together with a well funded, strong recovery plan This is a complex exercise. I hope that we will be able to come forward with this proposal very soon.
Lastly, we had a brief exchange of information on this week’s ruling of the German constitutional court.
The Commission recalled two points.
First, as we said earlier this week, EU law has primacy over national law in our common legal order. And, as the Court of Justice of the European Union recalled today, the Court of Justice alone has jurisdiction to rule that an act of an EU institution is contrary to EU law.
Second, that the European Central Bank is an EU institution and its independence is the basis for monetary policy making in the euro area. That independence is beyond question.