HIGHLIGHTS-Comments from European Union finance ministers

June 8 (BestGrowthStock) – Following are comments from European
Union finance ministers and other officials meeting to discuss
the EU debt crisis and budget issues in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

ESTONIAN FINANCE MINISTER JURGEN LIGI

On joining the euro zone next year:

“It is a great day for Estonia, but I want to stress it does
not mean big policy changes.

“What we need is the reliability of a bigger currency. It
reduces risks for investors.

“The euro is an attractive currency. If we compare exchange
rates in the past, the dollar has also moved up and down. And
the debt problems in America are not smaller than in Europe in
general.”

On risks of inflation:

“We have to admit there’s a risk of inflation that has to be
followed closely. But much comes from external factors like
fuel, and our internal demand is very balanced.

“At the moment, most of the price convergence has already
happened. In the summer, we expect inflation to be less.

POLISH FINANCE MINISTER JACEK ROSTOWSKI

“We are counting now the costs of the flood… If it turns
out later that amending (the budget) is needed, that it may
facilitate helping the victims, then we may consider it.

“Poland’s fiscal situation is strong enough to enable us
cope with this challenge, thanks to cautious budgets for 2008,
2009 and for this year.”

SPAIN’S ECONOMY MINISTER ELENA SALGADO

“We do stand firmly committed to (cut) our deficit, which
will be in 2011 6 percent.”

“We shall take any measures necessary to achieve the
target.”

“We have presented measures overall … which we think will
allow us to achieve that target.”

OLLI REHN, EU COMMISSIONER FOR ECONOMIC AND MONETARY AFFAIRS

“Spain and Portugal should not always be put in the same
basket.”

“I am aware that in Portugal there has been a very
substantial reform recently while there is still much work to do
especially concerning the labour market and … reforms.”

“Spain is preparing a substantial labour market reform and
also a substantial reform of the banking system. I can only
encourage Spain and Portugal to pursue the reforms.”

“Concerning the amendment of the regulation providing audit
powers, the final decision requires an opinion by the European
Parliament. I assume that will be decided on shortly.”

“Once that is done, the EU can take the final decision on
amendment of the regulation and once that is done we will have
the audit powers for Eurostat.”

“We have had some concerns as regards the statistical
performance of Bulgaria and are considering sending a mission
shortly … which has all these audit powers.”

“We welcome the new targets and new measures announced by
Spain. We will come back to this next week. Spain has taken a
very substantial decision on fiscal consolidation and is
preparing further substantial structural reforms and I welcome
the commitment of the Spanish government to do everything needed
to meet the new targets.”

On EU economy, Germany:

“The economic recovery is on a stronger footing and will
gain stronger momentum towards the end of this year.”

“It makes sense that … all the member states will start
fiscal consolidation at the latest next year, 2011.”

“The German measures of yesterday concern the years 2011
onwards and Germany is expected to meet the target of public
sector deficit in 2013.”

“It seems that this programme … will substantiate the
target of meeting the 3 percent deficit target in 2013.”

GERMAN DEPUTY FINANCE MINISTER JOERG ASMUSSEN

“(With budget cuts) we are the anchor of fiscal policy in
the Euro zone and that is especially important at the current
time.

“In this week, we will quickly name the chief executive of
the special purpose vehicle.

“The German finance agency … will execute the treasury
activities of the special purpose vehicle.

“The opinion of the German government is that we should not
rule out treaty changes to strengthen the (budget) rules.

“There is nervousness in our parliaments and among the
people that not enough is being done on financial reform.

“That is why we want to see results.”

GREEK FINANCE MINISTER GEORGE PAPACONSTANTINOU

“Yesterday was the first time when Greece was not on the
agenda of the Eurogroup.”

“The budget is on track. In the first five months of the
year, we had a deficit reduction exceeding 40 percent.
Structural reforms are advancing. Following the passage of the
tax bill we are moving to pass pension reform and the fiscal
responsibility bill in June.”

“July is the time when treasury bills come to their end and
therefore will be renewed.”

“In June, it will be a visit of the troika — the IMF, the
EU and the ECB. We expect a clean bill of health. They seem to
be happy with what we are doing.”

“There is a general sense around the table that everybody
needs to undergo fiscal consolidation. We have markets that are
not at the moment convinced. We also know there are speculative
pressures out there.”

“Both Spain and Portugal presented new measures. They were
very well received. The necessary effort is being done.”

AUSTRIAN FINANCE MINISTER JOSEF PROELL

On implementing changes to the EU Stability and Growth Pact:

“In July we will hopefully have detailed technical
recommendations from the European Commission. That was agreed
today. Then based on that result it will be up to (EU President)
Herman Van Rompuy to intensify the work over the summer.”

On the publication of stress test results for European banks
as recommended by U.S. officials:

“In general we find transparency of stress tests positive
but at the moment are not considering it for individual banks
but rather the sector overall -… that means yes to stress tests,
yes to the publication of the general state of things, but I do
not see it necessary to put individual banks on display.”

“We spoke of this with (IMF Managing Director) Dominique
Strauss-Kahn and different opinions were expressed.”

On international opposition to a financial transaction tax:

“The G20 was a setback -… but it was not one for Europe. We
still want this and will contribute to advocate it -… the sooner
the better.”

FRENCH ECONOMY MINISTER CHRISTINE LAGARDE

“We welcome with a lot of satisfaction the arrival of
Estonia into the European club (euro zone).”

“I also indicated that France wanted, in parallel with the
enlargement caused by the arrival of Estonia, which is to be
welcomed and to which France had a positive view, that we must
evidently move quickly towards deeper and tougher governance
rules.”

SWEDISH FINANCE MINISTER ANDERS BORG

“There is market uncertainty due to uncertainty about fiscal
policy. The cure must be responsible fiscal policy. The greatest
responsibility for that obviously lies with the countries that
have contributed most to that uncertainty.”

“So the countries that have contributed most uncertainty
should be the ones that are most ambitious when it comes to
solving those problems and probably it will be Spain and
Portugal.”

AUSTRIAN FINANCE MINISTER JOSEF PROELL

“We have always said that a financial transaction tax can be
introduced on a European level.”

“We must use sanctions (on budget deficit excesses) at an
earlier stage than we have done up until now.”

POLISH FINANCE MINISTER JACEK ROSTOWSKI

“I am quite confident that the Hungarian government will
take all the measures that they need to. We were informed that
the new Hungarian government will take measures that will ensure
that the previous plan of achieving a deficit … of 3.8 percent
of GDP this year will be taken this year … there is no reason
for contagion.”

“The Polish economy is in a rather different class, having
suffered no recession last year, and having fairly strong growth
this year.”

OLLI REHN, EU COMMISSIONER FOR ECONOMIC AND MONETARY AFFAIRS

“Both France and Italy have taken important decisions. We’ll
come back to both France and Italy shortly to assess whether
they have taken effective action.”

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HIGHLIGHTS-Comments from European Union finance ministers