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On 29 October 2015, a Forum for exchanging ideas and best practices on SMEs and craft businesses was organised in the Chamber of Trade under the heading 'SME and Skilled Crafts in Europe' in the frame of the Luxembourg Presidency. The objective was to present the challenges and opportunities that SMEs face in terms of eco-innovation and digital transformation. During her presentation of the priorities of the Luxembourg Presidency, the Secretary of State for the Economy, Francine Closener, insisted on the need to reduce border crossing costs and to establish common regulations.
On 28 October 2015, the MEPs meeting in plenary session adopted several amendments to the position of the Council of the EU for the draft EU budget for 2016. "I have taken note of the differences between the budget as decided by the Council and the amendments passed by the European Parliament", declared Pierre Gramegna, Minister of Finances and President of the Ecofin Council, following the vote by MEPs. "I agree to the convening of the Conciliation Committee by the President of the European Parliament", added the Minister.
On 28 October 2015, the European Union and Liechtenstein signed an agreement on the automatic exchange of financial account information aimed at improving international tax compliance. "I am glad that this agreement could be reached between the European Union and Liechtenstein, as it constitutes an important step towards a level playing field and greater tax transparency in Europe and beyond," said Pierre Gramegna.
The Luxembourg Minister of Finance and President of the Ecofin Council, Pierre Gramegna, attended the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 27 October 2015, in order to participate, on behalf of the Council, in the debate on the amendments which the Parliament is preparing to vote on the Council’s position on the European Union’s (EU) 2016 draft budget. This position, which provides for €153.27 billion in funding commitments and €142.12 billion in payment allocations was presented by Pierre Gramegna to the European Parliament on 8 September 2015. In its draft resolution presented on 16 October 2015, the Parliament intends to increase funding commitments by more than €4.15 billion and payment allocations by almost €4.34 billion. An approach which Pierre Gramegna deems to be “maximalist and ambitious in the extreme”.
On 26 October 2015, Nicolas Schmit, Minister for Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy, and Jean Asselborn, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Minister for Immigration and Asylum, participated in the 15th "Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership" (FEMIP) Conference organised in Luxembourg by the European Investment Bank (EIB). In his opening speech, Nicolas Schmit highlighted the importance of "inclusive growth" to "gain the confidence" of EU citizens and "neighbours to the South". On closing the conference, Jean Asselborn, highlighted that the FEMIP, "a key reference of the economic and financial Euro-Mediterranean partnership", was the expression of the EU's long-term cooperation policy with the countries of the Mediterranean and a "key player" in the area.
On 22 October 2015, Nicolas Schmit, the Luxembourg Minister for Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy, took part in the conference on the state of Europe organised by Friends of Europe, under the patronage of the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council. Discussions were held on 'Europe's crises' and 'policy crossroads' by 150 top-level participants – European commissioners, members of the European Parliament and of national parliaments, ministers, opinion formers, members of civil society and business leaders. Nicolas Schmit took part in a round table entitled 'Quality Europe - Building a caring Europe'.
On 19 October 2015, the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council signalled a note of caution and realism ahead of the conciliation talks with the European Parliament on the EU budget for 2016. "We all agree that we are facing major political challenges which require us to take exceptional measures and to mobilise extraordinary financial support. But we cannot continue simply to increase the EU budget without any limits. We have to address the current situation whilst fully respecting the constraints on our finances, and in the light of clearly justified priorities", said Pierre Gramegna, minister for finance of Luxembourg and President of the Council at a trilogue-meeting with representatives of the European Parliament and the Commission.
In his capacity as President of the European Union's Ecofin Council, Pierre Gramegna took part in meetings held by G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors on 8 and 9 October 2015. Pierre Gramegna, in his capacity as President of the European Union's Ecofin Council, welcomed the adoption of the BEPS rules by the G20 Finance Ministers and insisted on the importance of now ensuring its global, coherent implementation within the spirit of ensuring a 'level playing field'.
European Union (EU) Ministers for Economy and Finance met in Luxembourg on 6 October 2015 for an ECOFIN Council chaired by the Luxembourg Minister for Finance Pierre Gramegna. The Ministers expressed their political agreement on a proposed Directive on the automatic exchange of information (AEI) on tax rulings, they debated the subject of the financial impact of the refugee crisis and exchanged views about the action plan which aims to create a Capital Markets Union.
On 6 October 2015, the Council reached a political agreement on a directive aimed at improving transparency in the assurances given by member states to companies about how their taxes are calculated.
Economic and Financial Affairs Council, 6/10/2015 - Background brief