On April 22, 2010 The European Institute's Transatlantic Roundtable on Financial and Economic Affairs held a special luncheon meeting with The Honorable Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs. In his first official visit to the United States since assuming this critical portfolio, Commissioner Rehn addressed the European Union’s efforts to restore financial stability and stimulate economic growth in the face of an unprecedented sovereign debt crisis. Speaking with Chrystia Freeland, Global Editor-at-large at Thomson Reuters, he outlined the actions taken to address Greece’s looming insolvency: fiscal consolidation and agreement on a euro area mechanism of coordinated conditional financial assistance for Greece. Commissioner Rehn emphasized his confidence in the cooperation between the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF. He downplayed concerns about debt crisis contagion in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, reminding participants that rising debt levels were in part the natural consequence of the stimulus packages enacted in response to the financial crisis, and that Greece is a special case. Commissioner Rehn reiterated his call to grant audit powers to Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency. He urged strengthening of the economic governance of the euro area through reinforcement of the Stability and Growth pact; broadening economic and fiscal surveillance to help rectify macroeconomic imbalances; and the establishment of a permanent crisis resolution mechanism. Commissioner Rehn also addressed financial sector reform proposals on both sides of the Atlantic, stressing the importance of coordinating such policies not only within the transatlantic context, but also within the G-20 framework.
This meeting was supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany through funds of the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.