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Meetings Calendar 2006
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Press Releases

07.04.2006

Grasser: Strengthening the EU as a global player

Two-day Informal Meeting of Economics and Finance Ministers began today in Vienna

 

“2006 is a good year for Europe. At the spring summit we got the growth and employment pact on the road to re-focus the Lisbon process. We have made the objectives of more jobs and a reduction in unemployment our main priority as Presidency. We have already achieved a great deal and scored some successes”, Federal Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser said at the press conference opening the Informal Meeting of Economics and Finance Ministers, which began today in Vienna. By way of example, he said a comprehensive programme worth 60 billion euro in loans and credit had been agreed with the European Investment Bank to boost employment and growth. The Council Presidency had also succeeded in reaching agreement with the European Parliament on the Financial Perspective 2007-2013. “With the agreement on the budget, we have wrapped up a central theme of the Austrian Presidency”, Grasser said. The issue of reduced rates of value-added tax had also been solved in the interest of over 200 million of Europe’s citizens. In addition, the Stability and Growth Pact was being implemented in credible fashion again. The moderate economic upswing was another positive and important factor for the global economy. “All of this is a good starting point for our work in the next couple of days on strengthening the EU as a global player”, he stressed.

The following issues are on the Economics and Finance Ministers’ agenda: a consolidated corporate tax base, more efficient working methods for the ECOFIN Council, the economic situation and the stability of the financial markets, the preparation of the spring meeting of the Bretton Woods Institutions and globalisation issues. Minister Grasser also reported that the Eurogroup would be meeting until midday today. In the afternoon, the presidents of the European central banks would join the meeting. The CEOs of three international corporations had been invited to take part in the globalisation debate: Cesar Alierta (Spanish Telefonica), Peter Brabeck-Letmathe (Nestlé), Bernd Pischetsrieder (VW). “The thrust of our discussion with the three CEOs is to explore the following: Are there other criteria in a globalised world than profit maximisation?” Grasser said. Other topics in this debate include safeguarding jobs and social security. “It is important to get across to the public that globalisation is a positive force”, Grasser continued. The President and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffmann Foundation, Carl J. Schramm, has been invited to the Finance Ministers’ working lunch. Schramm will speak about the important contribution companies make to creating jobs and promoting innovation. "The objective of the debate is to share experience and gather ideas and initiatives on how we can create a business-friendly environment and support companies most effectively. These are the issues we need to work on", Grasser said. The Informal Meeting of Economics and Finance Ministers will be followed by the meeting of ASEM finance ministers (Asia-Europe meeting).

 

Date: 07.04.2006