The Council discussed the implementation of the sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia, their effectiveness (with the aim of preventing any circumvention) and their strengthening. The ministers also discussed the economic issues related to the reception of Ukrainian refugees.
Ministers then welcomed Serhii Marchenko, Minister for Finance of Ukraine, who participated in his first ECOFIN meeting by video conference. The Council was able to reaffirm its full solidarity with the Ukrainian people and to take stock of the financial and material support provided to Ukraine.
The Council then discussed the impact of the war in Ukraine on the European economies, based on a new assessment by the European Commission. The discussion focused in particular on the measures taken at national and European level to deal with the increase in energy and raw material prices. The importance of coordination between member states of national support plans was stressed.
EU economy and finance ministers agreed to continue to monitor developments closely and confirmed the need for European unity and solidarity. Already on 25 February, the ministers had issued a declaration together with the European Commission and the European Central Bank, underlining their unity, their commitment to consider all possible sanctions, as well as their willingness to strengthen Europe’s strategic autonomy.
The Council adopted conclusions on the strategic autonomy of the European economic and financial sector. The current geopolitical context has made the concrete steps towards this objective even more crucial.
The Council discussed the implementation of the 2021 Council conclusions on strengthening the European financial architecture for development, taking the example of the EBRD and EIB initiatives to provide financial support to Ukraine.
The discussion was based on a presentation on the current status of implementation of the European financial architecture for development given by the Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The Council discussed the work on the transposition into EU law of the global agreement reached at the OECD Inclusive Framework that multinationals should not pay less than 15% tax anywhere in the world.
The aim of the directive is to transpose into EU law the two-pillar reform of the rules on international corporate taxation, as agreed by the global OECD/G20 inclusive framework on base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS). This international agreement, which brings together 137 countries and jurisdictions, constitutes a major milestone towards an effective and fair system of profit taxation.
The Council made preparations for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) spring meetings and agreed on the EU’s mandate for the upcoming G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors on 20 April.
The Commission gave a presentation on the state of play as regards the implementation of financial services legislation.
The Council adopted updated Value Added Tax (VAT) rules and a reinforced mandate for the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA). It also adopted a decision authorising member states to sign the second additional protocol to the convention on cybercrime (Budapest convention). This protocol will improve cross-border access to electronic evidence used in criminal proceedings. All three items were adopted without discussion.