Last December, leaders of the euro area member states requested finance Ministers to work on the general features of a possible budgetary instrument that would be focused on competitiveness and convergence. This instrument will be open to members of the euro area and to member states currently outside the euro area who are preparing to join the euro. Its aim is to support reform and investment projects that strengthen competitiveness and convergence in the euro area.
Leaders agreed last December that the size of the budgetary instrument would be agreed in the context of the wider negotiations for the post-2020 multi-annual financial framework, MFF, and agreement on the general features would be a step in putting this in place.
At a meeting of the Eurogroup in inclusive format on 13 June - in other words, non-eurozone finance Ministers were present - my colleagues and I agreed on a term sheet that outlines the general features, representing the culmination of six months of work on this proposal. We agreed on the general principles underpinning the budgetary instrument and on its key features. We also agreed that the size of the financial envelope for the instrument would not be determined until it is discussed within the context of discussions on the wider MFF. This is not due to take place until we have had further discussion on the MFF, most likely in the autumn.
On 21 June, this week, the Taoiseach and leaders of the other euro area member states will participate in the euro summit and will be updated on progress we have made.
I was present for the whole meeting on 13 June, which lasted until 4.30 a.m. on Friday. It was a difficulty meeting at times but it was not disagreeable. There was appreciation of all that we need to find ways of strengthening how the eurozone is formed. It is a question of how.