The beginning of 2021 marks the inauguration of a new Presidency for the Council of the European Union. On January 1st, Portugal has taken over the Presidency from Germany for a period of six months under the motto “Time to deliver: a fair, green and digital recovery”. The Portuguese Presidency plans to work for Europe’s recovery, strengthen European solidarity, pursue climate neutral and data economy, and consolidate international partnerships.
More specifically on financial services the new Portuguese Presidency aims at strengthening the Economic and Monetary Union, progressing in the discussions on the Banking Union together with the European deposit insurance scheme. It also commits to bring forward technical discussions on the Capital Requirements Directive and Regulation, advance with the Capital Markets Union and start the discussion for legislative proposals on a Union policy to fight money laundering and terrorist financing.
Regarding the Digital Finance Package, the Portuguese Presidency intends to develop a European approach in order to foster technological development, ensuring financial stability and consumer protection.
As “green matters” are a line of action for the new Presidency, on the subject of sustainable finance the Portuguese Government will prepare the Council reaction to the Commission Sustainable Finance Action Plan and start the discussion on the green bond standard.
Regarding the review of financial services files, the Presidency will proceed with the review of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) and the Motor Insurance Directive, leaving the review of Solvency II for the Slovenian Presidency.
Lastly, the new Presidency will continue working on tax challenges related to the digitalisation of the economy as well as strengthening administrative cooperation and the fight against tax fraud and evasion.
The Presidency’s plan is ambitious and represents a step forward to complete the Banking and Capital Markets Union, keeping an eye on new challenges like the economic recovery from COVID-19. Of course, the Council presidencies in order to fulfil their priorities are dependent on the proposals and positions on the table. Indeed for now the Portuguese presidency has the digital package on the table and will certainly invest a substantial effort in delivering, while it is awaiting publications by the European Commission of proposals such as AML, Green Bonds and the transposition of the final parts of the Basel 3 agreement.
By Sofia Badari