Chapter News

Main Results: Video conference of EU economics and finance ministers, 4 November 2020

Anti-money laundering and terrorism financing

Ministers discussed the Council conclusions on anti-money laundering and terrorism financing, which aim to provide the Commission with guidance in advance of its legislative proposals in 2021 on a single rule book, EU-level supervision and a coordination and support mechanism for member states’ financial intelligence units.

During the discussion, ministers expressed broad support for the draft Council conclusions as prepared by Coreper and at expert level.

In the draft conclusions, the Council outlines various areas in which the Commission should consider harmonising the EU rules via a directly applicable regulation. The Council also supports setting up an EU-level supervisor with direct supervisory powers over a selected number of high-risk obliged entities, as well as the authority to take over supervision from a national supervisor in clearly defined and exceptional situations.

The Council is due to approve the conclusions by written procedure after the video conference.

The fight against money laundering and terrorism financing is a top priority for the German presidency. Recent alleged money laundering cases, including in the EU, underline the urgency to act. More harmonised rules and EU-level supervision will allow us to be more effective and to strengthen the EU’s anti-money laundering framework. It is an important sign that we all stand united for tough anti-money laundering measures.
Olaf Scholz, Germany’s Federal Minister of Finance and Vice Chancellor

Non-performing loans

The Commission updated ministers on the implementation of the 2017 action plan on non-performing loans in the banking sector and presented elements of its upcoming action plan, which is expected to set out a comprehensive strategy with a mix of complementary policy actions to tackle non-performing loans in the EU.

Non-performing loans are bank loans that are more than 90 days past-due or are unlikely to be repaid in full without requiring the realisation of collateral. They remain at high levels within some members states despite significant progress in reducing them over the past few years. The COVID-19 crisis is expected to lead to an increase in their ratios.

Ministers agreed on the importance of accelerating the implementation of the outstanding measures from the 2017 action plan. They will discuss the new action plan once it has been presented by the Commission.

European Fiscal Board 2020 annual report

Niels Thygesen, the chair of the European Fiscal Board (EFB), presented the EFB’s 2020 annual report.

The report provides an analysis of fiscal policy surveillance and coordination in the EU and aims to inform relevant stakeholders, mainly the Commission, in their efforts to strengthen and improve the EU’s fiscal framework. In particular, it offers an assessment of the implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact in 2019 and a forward-looking analysis of possible improvements to the EU fiscal framework.

Information from the presidency

The presidency presented three sets of Council conclusions prepared at expert level, concerning the European Court of Auditors’ special report on the European Semester, the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2021, and EU statistics. The conclusions are due to be approved by the Council after the video conference, either at a physical Council meeting or by written procedure.

The presidency also briefed ministers, alongside the Commission, on the discussions at the G20 finance ministers’ and central bank governors’ meeting and the IMF/World Bank annual meetings in October.

Under ‘Any other business’, the presidency updated ministers on the progress achieved on the  financial services legislative proposals, in particular on the negotiating mandates for the Capital Markets Recovery Package and the Benchmark Regulation recently agreed by the Council and work on the legislative proposals on cyber resilience and crypto assets. It also stressed the importance of reaching a quick agreement on the proposal to amend the directive on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation (DAC 7).

Compliments of the Council of the European Union.