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The Finance Ministers of the Eurogroup met in Luxembourg on 13 May 2005 in an informal "Ecofin" meeting. They discussed the economic situation in Europe, the broad economic policy guidelines, external representation of the euro zone and the common side of the euro coins after the enlargement.
During the opening phase of the meeting, the ministers discussed the general economic situation in the euro zone which they consider to be "of serious concern" according to the statements of Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister and Chairman of the Eurogroup. However, Jean-Claude Juncker remarked, there has been "some good news" over the past few days, particularly with regard to the trend in the French, German and Spanish economies in the first quarter of 2005. The ministers noted in particular that consumer and investor "confidence levels" seem to leave something to be desired in the various Member States, which would highlight the necessity for structural reforms.
According to Jean-Claude Juncker, the Ministers also agreed that they will have to further deal with "divergences of economic trends in the euro zone," some of which "are beginning to worry us significantly," such as the components of the composition of growth and "divergences that are related to the competitiveness of the national sub-economies of the euro zone economy."
In this regard, the European Commission was given the task of preparing a more detailed study on the exact nature and extent of these divergences. Conversely, the ministers are still convinced that "notwithstanding the difficulties we are finding in a certain number of countries, we shall have to pursue structural reforms that are not directed against anyone’s standard of living, but they must make it possible in the EU for the European social model to continue to be accessible to the largest number of people."
These structural reforms shall be addressed in the framework of the Lisbon national action programmes. Jean-Claude Juncker expressed his satisfaction with the European Commission initiative "of sending missions to each of the 25 Member States to prepare these national reform plans."
With regard to the future minting of euro coins, the ministers agreed that the future common side of coins to be minted by the new Member States of the euro zone shall represent the entire European Union territory. In a second phase, once new coins are issued in the whole euro zone, this practice shall be universally applied.
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