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Summary

  1. Dutch finance minister Jereon Dijsselbloem questioned by MEPs
  2. Scrutiny session as head of group for eurozone finance ministers
  3. Session focused on eurozone integration and national budgets

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Session finishes

Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee

European Parliament

Brussels

And with that, today's session with Jereon Dijsselbloem comes to an end. 

Irish MEP probes on Brexit effects

Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Brian Hayes
BBC

Irish Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes tells Mr Dijsselbloem that as a fellow Catholic, he can see that he can see he has taken a "vow of silence" over the potential effects of Brexit. 

He asks whether the eurozone's public finances could take a hit as a result of the impact of the UK leaving the EU, and the prospects for British banks keeping so-called "passporting" rights. 

After denying taking such a vow, Mr Dijsselbloem says that the eurozone cannot allow a non-EU country "full passporting rights" into the single market unless it adheres to the bloc's relevant capital requirement and supervisory rules.

He adds that this would put the UK in a "Norway-style" position, but that a position seen to impinge on UK sovereignty will be difficult. 

Dijsselbloem: EU-US trade talks 'will get stuck'

Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Jereon Dijsselbloem
BBC

Czech centre-right MEP Ludek Niedermayer asks Mr Dijsselbloem for his assessment of potential "external risks" to the eurozone. 

In reply, he says that the single currency zone is facing "many" risks, although he is "more optimistic" about developments in China.

He adds that there is still "major uncertainty" when it comes to the United States, although he says it would be "fair to assume" that EU-US trade negotiations "will get stuck".

The EU has been trying to negotiate a trade deal with the US known as TTIP since mid-2013, although the deal has already encountered major obstacles this year. 

No 'quick fix' on debt - Dijsselbloem

Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Beatrix von Storch
BBC

German MEP Beatrix von Storch, from the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, says that growth in the eurozone is not matching levels required to sustain current levels of debt. 

She asks whether he would "prefer to be in a different job".

Mr Dijsselbloem says eurozone economic growth is "going up every year" and debt will eventually go down in more countries. 

"There is no quick-fix to foreign debt," he says - adding that the eurozone needs changes to its governance to ensure it is better able to absorb future shocks. 

What is the Five Presidents’ report?

Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Martin Schulz, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker
AP
Martin Schulz, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker were contributors to the report

The report was published last year by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, along with senior leaders of the EU’s other main institutions.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem was a contributor, alongside European Council chief Donald Tusk, European Parliament President Martin Schulz, and ECB chief Mario Draghi.  

It urged greater economic integration between the 19 countries using the Euro to guarantee the long-term viability of the currency union.

It called for the eventual establishment of a eurozone treasury – for “collective” decision-making on tax and spending – and an EU-wide deposit insurance scheme.

However, legislative proposals are not expected from the Commission until spring 2017.

MEP questions Commission enforcement role

Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Cora van Nieuwenhuizen
BBC

Dutch MEP Liberal Cora van Nieuwenhuizen asks for a comment on calls from German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble for the eurozone's Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) to be enforced by a different body to the EU Commission. 

Ms van Nieuwenhuizen says the Commission has "chosen not to enforce" the SGP rules in recent times.

Mr Dijsselbloem says he would "still be in favour" of the plan outlined in last year's five presidents' report on eurozone reform. 

This would involve the Commission enforcing the rules, after an "independent fiscal board" has assessed whether countries are in compliance, he adds. 

What is the eurozone 'banking union'?

Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Frankfurt
Reuters

The “union” is the name for a series of measures passed following the 2008 financial crisis to try to improve the stability of the banking system in the eurozone.

It set common eurozone standards for the amount of reserve capital banks should have to hold, plus gave the ECB power to directly monitor the largest Eurozone banks.

The European Commission has also tabled plans to set up a eurozone-wide guarantee scheme to protect bank deposits, with the aim of reducing the risks of “spillovers” from bank failures.

However, the plans remain blocked owing to strong opposition from northern states including Germany.

Dutch MEP questions 'expansionary' call from Commission

Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Esther de Lange
BBC

Dutch Christian democrat Esther de Lange asks whether Mr Dijsselbloem agrees that the Commission's call for more "expansionary" fiscal policies is misguided. 

She says the call has been described as such by the Dutch prime minister on the radio.  

Mr Dijsselbloem replies that the Commission is "perfectly allowed to say these things", and finance ministers will discuss the way forward next week. 

However he says that national budgets are not yet strong enough to "let go" of the EU's debt and deficit rules, which should still be upheld.

EU and national budgets

Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Piggy Bank
PA

Two weeks ago, the Commission unveiled its autumn economic forecasts, beginning the process of next year’s EU budgetary monitoring known as the European Semester.

The EU executive said that the draft budgets of eight eurozone countries were “at risk” of not complying with agreed EU debt and deficit limits.

Commissioners also decided not to impose punitive measures on Spain and Portugal, despite being found in breach of the rules last year.

Eurozone finance ministers are due to discuss countries’ draft budgetary plans when they meet in Brussels next Monday.

Dijsselbloem: Recovery 'surrounded by uncertainty'

Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Jereon Dijsselbloem
BBC

Jereon Dijsselbloem tells MEPs that the Commission's recently-published autumn economic forecast showed "moderate economic recovery" in the single currency zone. 

However he says his recovery is "surrounded by elevated uncertainty". 

He says that it is "essential" that agreed EU debt and deficit rules, known as the Stability and Growth Pact, are observed. 

Jereon Dijsselbloem: A background

Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Mr Dijsselbloem, a member of the Dutch Labour party, replaced current European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the Eurogroup in January 2013.

His appointment came two months after he became head of the Dutch Finance Ministry. He was re-elected for a second term as President of the group in July last year.

The Eurogroup President is responsible for chairing and setting the agenda for meetings between eurozone finance ministers, and representing them at international bodies such as the IMF.

Jereon Dijsselbloem
Reuters

Good morning

European Parliament

Brussels

Hello and welcome to coverage of this meeting of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee at the European Parliament in Brussels.

MEPs will shortly be joined by Dutch finance minister Jereon Dijsselbloem to discuss economic developments in the eurozone.

He is appearing in his role as President of the Eurogroup forum of eurozone finance ministers.

The meeting is expected to focus on plans for further integration in the eurozone, EU oversight of national budgets and the potential effect of Donald Trump’s presidency on the currency zone.