On December 5, Valdis Dombrovskis made a speech at the conclusion of the first Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) meeting of the new European Commission (EC). Mr. Dombrovskis is the European Commissioner for “an Economy that Works for People”, and is one of the three newly-appointed Executive Vice Presidents of the EC.
ECOFIN is the EU council responsible for economic policy, tax and financial services regulation. It is also the council responsible for the EU’s annual budget, the legal and practical aspects of the Euro (€), the coordination of member states’ economic policies, and the EU’s positions for international meetings, such as the G20.
In the speech, Mr. Dombrovskis outlined six areas of focus for ECOFIN:
- Climate Action: The Green Financing Strategy, which Mr. Dombrovskis was asked to develop by the new EC President Ursula von der Leyen, is to be published in 2020. ECOFIN is also working with the European Parliament towards a taxonomy for defining sustainable economic activities;
- Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing: ECOFIN would like the European Council to explore a way of ensuring more robust and effective cooperation between the relevant authorities and bodies and the potential for conferring supervisory powers in this area to an EU body;
- Stablecoins: ECOFIN and the EC adopted a joint statement on the need for a common European framework and noted that no global stablecoin arrangement should begin operation in the EU until the legal, regulatory and oversight challenges and risks have been adequately identified and addressed. ECOFIN intends to launch a public consultation on stablecoins before the end of 2019;
- Digital Operational Resilience: ECOFIN will also launch a public consultation in this area for example, in relation to cyberattacks;
- Capital Markets Union (CMU): Dombrovskis stated that they want to take the CMU to the “next level”, and that they have set up a High-Level Forum to look at new ideas for improving access to finance and ensuring that savers put their investments to productive use; and
- Energy Taxation: Again on the topic of climate action, Mr. Dombrovskis noted the need to move forward with the new energy taxation framework and highlighted the requirements to broaden the existing tax base and preserve competitiveness.