tv Atlantic Council Discussion on the European Union Brexit CSPAN April 16, 2019 7:49am-8:45am EDT
>> good morning, welcome, everyone. a great fellow at the council, business and economic center. it is a pleasure to welcome valdis dombrovskis. we have a variety of purposes today but the main one will be to take stock of brexit, the future relationship between the european union and the uk. and the vice president of brussels will talk about regulatory markets, sustainable finance and the international role of the euro. welcome back. i survey the commission of social dialogue since 2014 with the portfolio of financial
stability and the capital markets union. he was the premise of from 2009-14 and served with the ministry of finance from 2002-2004. our moderator today is doctor alexis stowe who is at price waterhouse coopers and is a fellow at the atlantic council. the discussion is part of our euro growth initiative which aims to foster robust transatlantic dialogue about europe. the events, not only are we on the record but we are on tv for your awareness and with that, valdis dombrovskis, please come to the change. [applause] >> it is an honor to have you
with us. many of us are here because of unity that we share across the atlantic ocean and it is a pleasure to have someone who has worked so avidly for us. the first question to address is this tragic comedy which we are all binge watching, i think it could be called october is the new black. this is the brexit. we just had the summit with the ministers. where do we stand today? >> thank to the council for this opportunity to share my views on the latest developments and transatlantic relations. brexit is one of those issues that keeps us busy. what is happening in this week's eu summit, the good news
is eu leaders managed to avoid that most destructive scenario which is no deal brexit. currently the uk, to reflect and to work on what is really the preferred scenario vis-à-vis relations with the eu. the british parliament was very complicated. there has been no majority for no deal, no majority for no brexit. no majority for customs or another model but apparently more time is needed to figure out what they want and where to find the majority. >> do we still have the range
of possibilities on the table for the uk? >> that is the point. nothing is excluded from no deal to know brexit. having more time provides chances of orderly solution of this situation. this longer extension means the uk will participate in european parliament elections and preparing for this. an active public debate with the eu with the context of european parliament elections. >> we have warnings to the bank of england to mario draghi of the ecb on the risks of no deal brexit, the foundation had a
study that it could cause 40 billion annually to euro zone countries. where do we stand in terms of looking at the future of a financial trading center? you had frankfurt of course. i they well poised to take the activity to the financial services? >> we held two parts of response to this question because one is what happens in case of a no deal scenario and the second is the deal. no deal scenario, very destructive and we have been preparing contingency measures for no deal brexit so basically
we are working together with uk treasury secretary for the kremlin and we said to working group together with bank of england, european central bank, uk treasury and european commission to assess risks to financial stability and take necessary measures passing a temporary accord for the determination, to say mitigating potential. none of these concerns, maybe not as immediate, the question is how longer term the financial services could look like, and there was an agreement in this withdrawal agreement and political declaration that this could be based on a system of equivalent decisions.
eu was running an equivalent system which is the most advanced in the world which means both sides preserve autonomy, that is what taking back control mean for determinations of each other but it is done sector by sector. and it implies the framework and supervisory practices for the lottery framework and produce equivalent outcomes. for determinations. >> to the euro zone economy for
the ims, and talking about the future, and on the external shot going on, how are you feeling about trade between the us and the euro zone and the impact on the euro zone economy? >> the euro zone and eu economy, we see economic slowdown but at the same time, currently the seventh year of economic growth, all 28 eu member states are growing. employment levels are at record high. unemployment is down to those levels. all in all we can say we are in a good part of the economic cycle in good economic times. in the context of the global
economy, the latest forecast which forecast economic slowdown and rebounding next year in the range of 3.5 sequencing and similarly in europe, we held the slowdown and expecting next year. so there we are indeed in line with global tendencies and that is one of the risk factors. we had one round, the unilateral decision of putting tariffs on steel and aluminum,
some of the recovery in 2018 and over to beneath some of these external shocks are some of the underlying vulnerabilities in the system pervasive across the desk comes today not exclusive to europe. these woody flatlining productivities, wage growth, and the client of profitability in the banking system. how are you feeling that each of these today and the result of the capacity to improve upon them? >> indeed. if we look at longer-term challenges for european economy, indeed, they are related to the questions of slow productivity growth. also in case of europe where concern of population aging and how to respond to that, and there's questions on banking sector. we see more like cyclical question, so currently when both
ecb and said basically continue monetary policy, low interest rate policy, of course it has effects en banc profitability but then it's more cyclical development. but on those longer-term tendencies, indeed, we need to address them, so on productivity it's mainly so investment in research, investment in innovation, that we can sustain productivity growth. also slow equipping people with the right skills to work and to be successful in a rapidly changing work environment which we are currently having. so there's no coincidence that we set up what we call eu skills agenda to deal exactly with those issues. and also in 2017 we came with an initiative of what we call
european field of social rights, and also the first principles were setting out with concerning skills and education. and on population aging it's a question on long-term sustainability of our pension, health care, long-term care systems, and also a question of broad labor market participation which will be needed, so to say, offset population aging. and many member states in the eu have already implemented substantial pension reforms, but we see more will be needed because the tendency is very clear, and the more time we react, the more gradual and less destructive this change can be. >> excellent. there's one country i think in the eurozone today that unfortunately asked this bit of
a microcosm of the underlying vulnerabilities. it's one of some of the people don't nest we want to address head-on, and it's italy. we've seen with the change in government and unfortunate i think my view emulation of this kind of procyclical fiscal expansion that we had in the united states. so what we stand stand on italy today and the delicate dance between frankfort, brussels, and rome? >> well, on italy indeed we have concerns, concerning economic and fiscal performance of italy. and, indeed, when current government came in office, they presented this year's budget was substantially increased budget deficit. and we had difficult discussions with italian authorities on their plans to increase budget deficit and a station where they should be decreasing budget deficit, and we saw that also
markets reacted negatively. so interest rates in italy increased both for lending and broader economy. as a result confidence indicators went down. this negatively affecting investment and italy's economy slowed down there substantially. so as of late last year, this year's budget was built on assumption of 1% growth. just last week italy presented its what they call economic and financial document, with underlying forecast of only 0.1% of growth. one can say okay, it's overall slowdown in the u.s. economy, but still eu economy continue to grow with gross rates well above
1%, while were present at our next figures on this, one seventh of may so i'm not quoting maybe all the figures which may be changing by now, but so one can say that the damage to the economy is already done. then in december we managed to reach an agreement with italian government. they corrected course. they reduced budget deficit quite substantially to be just within acceptable concerning the eu fiscal rules. it also helped to calm down markets somewhat, even though interest rates still remain elevated, and, indeed, we expect complicated discussions of italian authorities also concerning 2020 budget. >> you mentioned made. we're the upcoming european parliament elections. how are you feeling that the
elections? we've seen huge polarization in recent elections, whether it's brazil, israel, turkey, the return to populism and the rights of the far right in here. how are you feeling about the election? >> i wouldn't say we have seen so much polarization. we rather see fragmentation, that the political landscape is somewhat fragmenting and a part of traditional, strong parties in many european countries. you currently have new parties emerging, so to say both on the right and left of the political spectrum. so indeed one can expect for the next european parliament will be somewhat more fragmented, but we still expect that the route european political forces will have substantial majority in next european parliament. how european parliament functions, we do not, you know,
have like coalition and opposition so it's more like ad hoc majorities on different issues. but clearly this fragmentation will mean that throughout european forces will help cooperate to ensure that there are majorities and that we can effectively take decisions at the eu level. >> excellent. so thinking about trade, this rather is downside but one of the upside of america's own interesting behavior on that front is that it prompted greater european cooperation with trading partners. so very quickly cementing free-trade agreement with japan, vietnam. and now as we know it don't theo eu-china free-trade agreement to date, but you just wrapped the eu-china summit this year. how are things looking relation between brussels and beijing? >> first as regards the you trade agenda, eu remains open to
international trade and, indeed, last year we held, despite the number of growth and comprehensive trade agreement, besides the one you mentioned, we also have deal with canada and singapore. we have agreement in principle with mexico, the goucher shims are ongoing with australia, with new zealand, some others. so in terms of trade, indeed, also this president trump unilateral trade policy and tendency towards trade conflicts gave additional momentum for others actually, you know, to concentrate and to reach this agreement. because that's clearly more urgent and more needed. as regards eu-china relations,
indeed, just this week, earlier this week we had eu-china summit. so discussing our cooperation in a a number of areas, including of course the economy and finance, including global challenges like fight against climate change. that said, of course we also had our issues with china and when for example, u.s. is raising issues like forced technology transfer, intellectual property rights, industrial subsidies, we held the same concerns. and from that point of view we feel that it would have been better to address those concerns in a court midway between eu and u.s. -- coordinated way -- between eu and u.s., but currently this is not exactly happened. >> thinking also by the relationship between china and the european union, there is not
necessarily a great harmony on the responses to the belt and road, whether it's in eastern european countries as of the european sovereign debt crisis, whether it's portugal, italy, how is the european union really approaching the belt and road initiative? >> first of all, the european union remains open to foreign investments, including from china. but, of course, we need to be careful when it concerns strategic sectors, strategic technologies. so what we have recently set up in europe is so-called investment screening mechanism, which allows eu member states to screen and, if necessary, stop certain investments in strategic sectors for their technologies. it must be said it's not country specific. it's not aimed against any
specific country, but if there are concentrations of member states see certain risk, this, too, is in member states and. >> thank you. you mention your cooperation with china on sustainable finances, a topic very dear to your heart and your agenda. i think certainly we're at the turning point in the global economy when and amongst investors and companies where the needs to be some sort of harmonization of what environment of social governance standards are, , what systema finance truly is. describe some of the european unions efforts on this. >> well, indeed, maybe let's start with broader note, that we have reached the paris agreement on limiting climate change to well below two degrees celsius, well, 1.5 degrees celsius is mentioned as kind of a target, and from the eu side we are
determined to fulfill this agreement and lead the way globally in its implementation. of course it requires lots of efforts also from public finances, it requires lots of technological change, but the scale of investment needed, for example, in europe we have estimated we need around 180 billion euros additional annual investment until 2030 to meet our paris goals, which means it's beyond the scope of public finances. that's why private finance needs to be enrolled and needs to play its full role. correspondingly, in march last year we presented action plan on sustainable finance followed by three legislative proposals, and
two out of those three proposals already agreed. first, as regards to disclosures, how sustainability is taken into account. and second, on low carbon benchmarks. and we're making progress on a set proposal which is taxonomy or classification system of sustainable finance activities. basically providing clarity, so to say what is green and us avoiding so-called greenwashing. so, and we are currently launching also international platform to ordinate the work of different -- coordinate the work of different areas of systema finance. so number of countries have been
open to this initiative, including china, india, canada, argentina, to mention a few. so in any case we think that sustainable finance is rapidly moving from being a niche to being mainstream. and we indeed seek increase demand for green and sustainable investment for both institutional and retail investors. so we need to create conditions that there's also sufficient supply on green financial instruments. >> which is of course help when it's linked to performance as well an increase in performance. >> certainly. >> you mention innovation, and someone sort of comically said that europe is very good at digital taxation but not necessarily at drawing the digital companies. that's probably not an education question given fact we had some
of the most solid technical universities, whether it's in uk or switzerland but also across the eurozone. what you see some of the challenges and stumbling blocks and ways to overcome this? >> well, indeed, as regards innovation and broader startups landscape, actually eu has very dynamic landscape, and in terms of start of operation where basically on par with the u.s. here so where the difference comes in what happens to, three, five years down the road, but actually much less of those companies are still active in that stage. so the challenge seems to be for those companies to scale up, and in this context there are two things which are important. what is for them to be able to be used full potential of eu
internal market. we have eu single market but to start up companies which are scaling up are confronted with different set of the challenges in each state. they're trying to extend challenges to allow companies to act on basis of single authorization or single license across the whole eu. so another challenge is funding, and that's why there were a number of initiatives in our capital markets initiative on how to develop capital markets across the eu, but especially how to pursue venture capital, help facilitate what we call funding escalator, sme listing. all those initiatives had recently been either adopted or
agreed, and thus soon to be implemented. we hope with this development of capital markets union we will help to address also those scaling up issues. >> thank you. so where we sit here in washington, d.c., the dollars to the world's reserve currency. what is the outlook for the euro growing as reserve currency around the world? >> indeed, euro is now the second biggest reserve currency, and in terms of trade, it's actually close to dollar. so in december last year we launched the initiative on strengthening the international role of the euro. so we are looking at a number of areas how we can make a euro more attractive as a reserve currency, as transactions currency in international trade.
there are examples, for example, we are importing only a few percent of energy from u.s., at same time we're having more than 80% of contracts in dollars. often as we see like in certain sectors, even trade intra-eurozone is taking place in dollars. they are looking at what are the reasons for that at how we can address it and how we can actually help bigger growth for euro in those transactions. we are also looking how to make euro more attractive as payments currency. we've recently, for example, reduced tank transfer cost for all europe transactions in no european union. we until recently had it only for euro zones. transactions and eurozone are
priced as cheaply as domestic transactions, so now we are expanding this principle to the whole eu, also for countries outside eurozone. and were developing a system of instant payments across eu where basically money can be transferred within seconds pretty much everywhere within the eu. so there are many workings which are currently developing concerning the international role of the euro. >> actually, thank you so much. and i must ask, some do say there's a bit of a geopolitical tit-for-tat happening, that the united states hertz europe in his jugular vein of economic growth which is exports, and that euro can in return retaliate with taxation of american companies. where do we stand on the taxation? >> well, on taxation, indeed, those discussions are ongoing.
yesterday we had a meeting with secretary mnuchin and also had a chance to touch on those issues. well, first of all, what needs to be acknowledged that economy is changing and economy is becoming increasingly digital, at the same time taxation system is still mainly geared towards, so to say, tangible economy. we need to adjust our taxation system to increasingly digital economy. and this is internationally recognized. there is work on going within oecd how to best address this digital economy. so what we're doing now in the eu is basically trying to facilitate international
agreement, but use international agreement is not materializing, then we came with some proposals on so-called digital tax cuts at eu level. because alternatively what we see concerning especially direct taxation, member states are basically free to set their taxation. and what they see an absence of coordinated global response or coordinated at least european response, member states are taking their own decisions because member states treasury's which are really losing money. because of average they pay three times lower effective tax rates than say classical companies. and we risk fragmentation of our single markets if we didn't have european level and member states start acting individually if we
may end up with very fragmented system. so to somewhat our preferred scenario would be global internationally codenamed solution, if it's arriving accent, able to do that. second best is to have european solution, and if in our view wouldn't have that then would have fragmented national, and if would not help also those international companies, multinationals, which are doing business in europe because then they would be different tax requirements in each different member states. >> thank you so much. we will open to questions on the audience. samet please ask you to identify yourself. [inaudible] >> microphone. >> neil roland, to my questions please. with regard to derivative
clearinghouses in london, u.s. policymakers are frustrated that the new eu law, not yet implemented, would extend oversight to u.s. clearinghouses, despite a 2016 u.s.-eu agreement equivalence agreement. your thoughts, please. second question, agreement on sustainable finance internationally, of course you mentioned a number of countries. the u.s. is not one of them. thoughts about the u.s. isolationism on bsg and sustainable finance, please. >> well, on first question, indeed we recently adopted changes to supervision of central counterparties and amendments to the european market infrastructure relation. and, indeed, with also discussions on what are the potential implications with the
u.s. but as you know we were in close dialogue on the specific issue with german giancarlo, following the adoption of our legislation we even issued a joint statement, myself together with chairman carlo, reflecting how this will affect our relations and how we will continue to rely on the systems of equivalents,, or as it's called in u.s., on difference. so i think we are approaching coordinated and cooperative manner, because it's clear that finance is global and we need globally coordinated response. in a sense, the changes of our legislation, we are making our system in a sense more similar to the u.s. system. then to the second question on
sustainable finance. indeed, currently we do not see much engagement from u.s. government, but at the same time we see local interest from states, , from cities, from private sector. two days ago ago i was in new york where i was meeting mike bloomberg who is mobilizing private sector in cities and states to want green and sustainable finance. so we see lots of activity actually from u.s. and we believe the evidence of climate change is piling up, and at some stage also u.s. government will reconsider the position on this. >> you also mention economic club of new, the gdp of miami potential reflecting and looking at me which gdp in the us is very closely tied to some of the coastal cities, which are highly vulnerable. i think also in the american
sense when you're the world largest asset manager talk about the risk to the clients portfolios from climate change, hopefully things start to wake up. another question, yes. >> i ask the question of brexit. you talk about international rule of the euro than working to improve that. one challenge for brexit is the vast majority of national instruments denominated in euro trade in london. regardless out the entire brexit situation comes out i would imagine that strategically you would want more of the euro denominated trading to occur and the euro area. are you thinking about this? if you are, can you provide some insight into what direction you might take? it can't be resolved by october by magic you could put things in place and put you on the road.
>> well, first of all, we are not setting some kind of location developments for euro, including for clearing. so what we're doing here we are addressing potential risks to financial instability, which i outlined already earlier today. and there will be issues related to the markets, access for uk companies. because if uk is leaving european union, leaving the single market, it will help uk companies who have no automatic access to eu markets. so it can be addressed either to the system which i described earlier, or companies help to establish sufficient presence in
eu. in this case, i emphasize the eu because we talk about eu single market, not necessarily in eurozone. and then being able to maintain that eu passports and correspondingly provide citizenship. so that's the way how we are approaching this. >> thank you. >> the gentleman here in the blue shirt. >> good morning. we have talked about the challenges facing the eurozone, the u.s. with a global economy as well as the challenges with brexit. you certainly had your experiences helping to leave latvia through its financial crisis in 2008. if i may ask, what guiding principles and lessons learned have prepared you to deal with these future challenges? what lessons and scar tissue
have remained from that time? >> okay. well, i would say the lessons learned, there were actually manyfold, but there were i would say one lesson was during the crisis. that when you are in deep financial and economic crisis as long as it was in 2008-2010, it's important actually to act swiftly to address financial instability, because financial stability is precondition for economic growth. so if you delay action, delay financial stability, and then we are not able to return to economic growth. we seen other examples in eu, for example, increased when they
were trying to do fiscal adjustment -- on greece. the point is by delaying the fiscal adjustment, greece was not able to return to financial stability, and by this it made crisis longer and deeper, and eventually ended up doing more fiscal adjustments than latvia did, for example. this is one important lesson, that it's important to restore weekly financial stability because with this it's possible quickly to return to economic growth. and actually in case of latvia in 2010 we started to have year on year growth again. and the second question is of course it's better not to get in that kind of crisis and,
therefore, it's important to stick with a responsible fiscal and macroeconomic policies. and especially true for countries inside eurozone,, because countries inside eurozone don't have option to devalue their currency, to regain competitiveness. and by the way, especially among smaller eu economies, this is less effective, because small economies including like latvia, they tend to be very open economies with substantial share of external trade in gdp, and as such you lose any competitiveness gains through important inflation. so, therefore, as i said it's important to stick with a responsible fiscal and economical policies. and this is one of the lessons
learned also at the european level, and that's why one of the response from the crisis was introduction of european semester, which is coordination of fiscal and macroeconomic policies in member states at eu level. i will give you one example, maybe not very scientific example. i know i'm talking with researchers for here also, but, so late last year we had discussions with italy, which had been planning budget deficit of 2.4% of gdp, and the whole world was up in arms, how come they are planning 2.4% deficit? and anyone you inappropriate and it was a big issue. i looked at italy's budget deficits ten years before the crisis. only in one year deficit was
below 2%, 2.4% of gdp, and nobody was really worried about it. so it means that european level, now were actually much more aware and much more preventive against building of potential developments. >> thank you. another question here. front row. >> hello i from johns hopkins university. my question is, and if you can address the policy on a single cybersecurity market. and then i didn't see that is overseeing this policy. and second, i see you can address how private, data privacies implemented within the eu. thank you. >> okay. first of all, we do not speak about single security market. that's an initiative on paper which were pursuing digital
single market. so and, indeed, we are trying to create this digital single market with a number of initiatives. one initiative was directive on movement of nonpersonal data. basically we are introducing something, what some people even call a fixed freedom within eu single market. we have four freedom which is free movement of goods, services, capital and labor and now we're adding free movement of data. so the data can freely within the eu. and in parallel with introduce general data protection relation setting joint principles of dealing with personal data where the general approach is people should have control on how their
personal data is being used. this data should be portable. so the aim is to give more say in more information to individuals how their data is being used, and to use the same set of principles across the eu. then we are approaching other issues, for example, practices like geo- blocking, making some content available to some member states, not unable to others. we think this has no place in a single market and there was some initiatives to remove this. other than that, specifically cybersecurity, we are coordinating this work of member states we currently do not have single eu agency dealing with service could issue but there are a number of institutions which work in close coordination with member states.
for example, in financial sector, and financial sector systems, one thing which were trying to avoid is operation of different testing requirements because the one thing and a financial sector that all the systems which bring set, they need to be tested, vis-à-vis either threats, and then it may well often be that for financial institutions, working across borders they are receiving different testing requirements from different member states, so there we would try to have once again courtney did streamlined approach across the eu concerning the cybersecurity testing environments, and also ensuring exchange of information of cyber attacks, cyber incidents so there's faster learning and faster facilities to react on potential cyber
incidents. >> thank you. the next question, the five freedoms are some aligned with china's five happiness. the gentleman here in the navy blazer. >> michael higgins. i'd like to get back to brexit for a minute. so the eu has now given britain another six months. really surprised with that decision. does the eu, do you see a roadmap through parliament during the six-month time? you have high hopes it will actually get to an agreement, or are you looking for them to decide for another vote, or just what? what led to the decision to give them six more months? >> okay. first, on this extension. first, the fact that uk granted
extension and extension was granted. even longer than initial for uk. one thing which is clear and a council conclusions by granting this extension is that eu is not reopening conversations on withdrawal agreement. the withdrawal agreement has been agreed, so we are not reopening that. so whether we see some roadmap and uk parliament, no, but it's not our task to see it it is uk's have to see all are in uk probe. we went open to different options. of course both sides want to avoid no deal brexit, and that's what extension helps to achieve, but there are also different forms of cooperation when uk is
leaving the eu. there's options discussed, for example, on customs union. there's this so-called norway model being discussed. there are other options. so it's not that the current option is only one on table, but that it is for uk to decide and to find a way forward. >> thank you. the minutes of been very -- madam minister has been very generous with his time. we'll have time for one more question. >> i'm from the european network of credit unions and world council credit unions, and my question is, when do you expect to compromise on the amendments to the capital requirements directive to be finalized formally? >> well, as regards amendments
to the capital requirements directive, actually they have been already agreed last december, and now we are just going through this formal process. so from that point of view i i cannot give you a specific date that it's shortly. does i will say the deal is already done and we are just finalizing normal procedures in council and european parliament. i don't know exactly, but it's rather a matter of weeks, not months. but, of course, work is not finished with an option of current banking package, so what banking package did it basically introduced internationally agreed standards in eu
legislation, including agreements reached in basel comedy, but in between there's new set of agreements in basel, so-called finalization of basel iii, and currently we've already started consultations with different stakeholders on how to implement finalization of basel iii in eu law. >> thank you so much, mr. vice president. can you all join in thanking him for his time and visiting service. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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