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Finance and Monetary Affairs in the EU

Latest news on economic and monetary affairs in the European Union.

European Court of Auditors Special Report No 2/2007
European Court of Auditors on Special Report No 2/2007 concerning the Institutions' expenditure on buildings

Taxation trends in the EU 2007
This report contains a detailed statistical and economic analysis of the tax systems of the Member States of the European Union and Norway.

European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF)
The EGF aims to help workers made redundant as a result of changing global trade patterns to find another job as quickly as possible. The fund was launched by the European Union in 2007 and will provide up to 500 million euro a year in support.

Preliminary draft budget 2008
European Union Budget online

EU cash controls
The EU Council of Ministers on 12 July 2005 adopted a Regulation which aims to introduce an EU-wide approach to controlling cash movements into and out of the EU. The Regulation is applicable in all Member States as of 15 June 2007. It obliges travellers entering or leaving the Community and carrying any sum equal or more than EUR 10,000 (or its equivalent in other currencies or easily convertible assets such as cheques drawn on a third party) to make a declaration to the customs authorities.

EU Humanitarian Aid: Frequently asked questions
The European Commission on 13 June 2007 adopted a Communication paving the way for greater efficiency and coherence in delivering humanitarian aid. The Commission is calling for the European Union to work more closely together on a consensus that would boost its collective response to humanitarian crises. This includes advocating full respect for international humanitarian law, so that aid and aid workers can reach people in need.

Stabilisation and Association Agreements : frequently asked questions
As the number of countries running excessive budgetary deficits diminishes, the European Commission believes it is of the utmost importance that national governments in the European Union take advantage of the good economic times to progress rapidly towards the objective of sound and sustainable budgetary positions. Under current policies, only 10 of the 27 EU countries will have reached their medium-term budgetary objective in 2008 despite three consecutive years of above-trend economic growth. To improve the functioning of the 'preventive arm' of the Stability and Growth Pact, therefore, the Commission on 13 June 2007 made a number of proposals which build on the 2005 SGP reform. They deal with the way governments formulate and implement their budgetary strategies over the medium term and the strengthening of surveillance and coordination of economic and budgetary policies at EU level. The aim is to achieve sustainable budgetary policies that contribute to higher growth and employment.

China - EU trade - background note
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson met Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai in Brussels on 12 June 2007 for the annual EU-China Joint Trade Ministerial Meeting. China and the EU have one of the fastest growing trading relationships in the global economy: Europe is now China's largest trading partner, and China Europe's largest source of manufactured imports. The Minister and the Commissioner reviewed bilateral trade relations. Commissioner Mandelson urged his Chinese counterpart to continue to address barriers to EU exporters and investors in the Chinese market and to protect EU businesses in China from intellectual property theft. Although China has now been in the WTO for six years, EU exporters and investors continue to face persistent problems entering and operating in the Chinese market.

European Commission Technical Assistance Office for the West Bank and Gaza Strip
The EU’s relationship with the region, and the Palestinians in particular has grown deeper over the past decades. The EC hopes that this relationship will be successful in helping pave the way towards a just peace and a Palestinian State in the near future. The website of the European Commission Technical Assistance Office for the West Bank and Gaza Strip contains information about the role of this office and various areas of cooperation with the Palestinian Authority. You will find an overview of the EU’s activities and relevant information on EC’s assistance and programmes. It is designed to provide easy and accessible information on the EU in general, its external relation policies, its institutions and its activities.

State aid: SMEs insist on the need to polish "general block exemption"
UEAPME, the European craft and SME employers' organisation, presented the European Commission today with its comments on the first draft "General Block Exemption Regulation" (GBER) on State aid.

Risk-Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF) – Questions and answers
On 5 June 2007, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a cooperation agreement establishing the new risk-sharing finance facility (RSFF) to support research & innovation in Europe. This new instrument is designed to help to make more financing available for promoters of research & innovation projects, which often face more difficulties than traditional business sectors in accessing finance, due to the relatively high levels of uncertainty & risk inherent to their activity. The RSFF, part of the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7) & EIB’s programme for Research & Innovation, will partially cover the financial risks assumed by the EIB when financing this type of activity. The contribution of EUR 1 billion each from FP7 & the EIB will therefore unlock billions of additional financing in this area.

Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF)
The European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have joined forces to set up the Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF). RSFF is an innovative scheme to improve access to debt financing for private companies or public institutions promoting activities in the field of: * Research, Technological Development Demonstration, and * Innovation investments. * RSFF is built on the principle of credit risk sharing between the European Community and the EIB and extends therefore the ability of the Bank to provide loans or guarantees with a low and sub-investment grade risk profile (involving financial risks above those normally accepted by investors). The scheme also provides a wealth of opportunities for new and innovative EIB financing solutions directed at the private sector and the research community as a whole.

2006 customs seizures of counterfeit goods – Frequently Asked Questions
Statistics just published by the European Commission show a significant increase in the amount of counterfeit and pirated articles seized at the EU's external borders in 2006. Customs officials seized more than 250 million of such articles in 2006 compared with 75 million in 2005 and 100 million in 2004. Medicines, cigarettes and other goods that can seriously damage the health of consumers continue to be faked in large quantities. Changes in the routes used by criminals to trade in fake goods, the use of the internet and the transport of small quantities by air or postal traffic make customs job even more challenging. However, customs' reply has never been as high as in 2006 with more than 36.000 seizures, an increase of around 40% compared with 2005.

Community-wide statistics for 2006
The latest Customs statistics published by the European Commission show that counterfeiting and piracy continue to be a alarming threat in Europe. Customs seized around 250 million articles in 2006 , and the number of customs cases involving fakes increased to 36.486. Growth in seizures of fakes dangerous to health and safety also continued. In 2006, more than 2,7 millions counterfeit medicines and more than 1,58 millions counterfeit cosmetics and personal care products were seized.

Bush names Zoellick as new World Bank chief
U.S. President George W. Bush has named Robert Zoellick, a former trade representative and top diplomat as his nominee to head the World Bank.

Convergence Reports 2007 - Malta
On 16 May 2007, the European Commission concluded that Malta has achieved a high degree of sustainable economic convergence with the other Member States and that it fulfils the necessary conditions to adopt the euro. On the basis of its Convergence Report, the Commission is proposing to the Council that Malta adopts the euro on 1 January 2008. The final decision will be taken by EU finance ministers in July, after consultation of the European Parliament, and following a discussion by the Heads of State or Government at their summit in June. In its Convergence Report, the Commission assesses whether Malta has achieved a high degree of sustainable convergence, measured against the criteria set out in Article 121(1) regarding the government budgetary position, price stability, exchange rate stability and convergence of long-term interest rates. Compatibility of the legal framework with the Treaty is also examined.

Convergence Reports 2007 - Cyprus
On 16 May 2007, the European Commission concluded that Cyprus has achieved a high degree of sustainable economic convergence with the other Member States and that it fulfils the necessary conditions to adopt the euro. On the basis of its Convergence Report, the Commission is proposing to the Council that Cyprus adopts the euro on 1 January 2008. The final decision will be taken by EU finance ministers in July, after consultation of the European Parliament, and following a discussion by the Heads of State or Government at their summit in June. In its Convergence Report, the Commission assesses whether Cyprus has achieved a high degree of sustainable convergence, measured against the criteria set out in Article 121(1) regarding the government budgetary position, price stability, exchange rate stability and convergence of long-term interest rates. Compatibility of the legal framework with the Treaty is also examined.

'Taxes in Europe' Database
The "Taxes in Europe" database is the European Commission's on-line information tool covering the main taxes in force in the EU Member States. Access is free for all users. The system contains information on around 500 taxes, as provided to the European Commission by the national authorities.

Spring economic forecasts 2007 - 2008
Growth outlook raised - unemployment and public accounts to improve further as growth stays solid - The economic prospects look even brighter than six months ago: the European Commission lifts its forecast for economic growth in the European Union to 2.9% in 2007.

The EU & the Kimberley Process (blood diamonds)
The Kimberley Process is a unique initiative by government authorities, the international diamond industry and NGOs to stem the flow of so called ‘blood diamonds’ – rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments. These have contributed to fuelling devastating conflicts in a number of countries in Africa.

EU Budget
What is there in common between training in the job skills needed for the 2012 Olympics in London and food researchers at the Adam Mickiewicz University Foundation in Poland; the Airbus and people made homeless by earthquakes in Indonesia and Pakistan; the film which won the main prize at the 2006 Cannes film festival and small and medium-size enterprises in Hungary? All have received funding from the European Union’s budget, which helps business innovate and create jobs and growth, preserves our environment, encourages our cultural diversity, and funds the EU’s global responsibilities.

European Union Budget at a glance
Taxpayers' money is used by the European Union to fund activities that all Member States and parliaments have agreed upon in the Treaties. A small amount – around 1% of the Union's national wealth, which is equivalent to about EUR 235 per head of the population – comes into the EU's annual budget and is then spent mainly for its citizens and communities.

Adjustment in EMU: A model-based analysis of country experiences
This paper uses a two-country-three-sector DSGE model to analyse adjustment in the Euro area. A particular distinction is made between tradeables and non tradeables and non tradeables are further disaggregated into housing and services. The experience of six countries which have shown strong divergences in the early years of the euro area, namely Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain is analysed. The framework allows replication of actual developments in euro-area Member States using a model that is inherently stable. It is found that to a large extent, the diverging growth and inflation developments and current account shifts can be attributed to one-off adjustment to EMU which broadly seems to have run its course. The absence of an exchange risk premium in EMU allows an increase in capital mobility resulting in a lower correlation between domestic savings and investment. Increased capital mobility seems to have been an important driving force behind the current account dynamics. Due to the absence of risk premia, investment – and especially housing investment - responds strongly to exogenous shocks.

Payment Services Directive: Frequently Asked Questions
The aim of the PSD is to ensure that payments within the EU – in particular credit transfer, direct debit and card payments – become as easy, efficient, and secure as domestic payments within a Member State, by providing the legal foundation to make the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) possible. The PSD will reinforce the rights and protection of all the users of payment services (consumers, retailers, large and small companies and public authorities).

International customs operation Diabolo
The joint 'Diabolo' customs operation was a maritime operation that focused on containers shipped from Asian ports of loading to EU ports of discharge. The operation focused mainly on counterfeit cigarettes, but the possibility that other counterfeit goods or sensitive goods could be retained or seized by the EU Member States was also incorporated.