European Council re-elects Donald Tusk as President
On 9 March, the European Council re-elected Donald Tusk as its president for a second term of two and a half years, from 1 June 2017 to 30 November 2019. Donald Tusk was also re-appointed as President of the Euro Summit for the same period.
Statement ECB on interest rates
On 9 March, the Governing Council of the ECB decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.40% respectively. The Governing Council continues to expect the key ECB interest rates to remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of the net asset purchases.
The ECB also confirmed its previous decision to lower the monthly bond-purchase volumes under its “quantitative easing” program to €60 billion from €80 billion, starting in April and through December 2017, or beyond “if necessary”.
Here you can read the speech of Mario Draghi.
AFME publishes new report on the challenges of raising pre-IPO finance.
On 7 March, the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) published a new report examining the specific challenges associated with raising risk capital for small and mid-size high-growth companies in the European Union.
The report identifies the main barriers preventing the creation and growth of businesses in Europe and makes recommendations to address them.
The report outlines the various sources of EU financing available to Europe’s high-growth businesses, but highlights that many of these are underused.
To read the report, click here.
European Commission publishes its Digital Economy and Society Index
Closing the digital gap
On 3 March, the European Commission published the results of the 2017 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), a tool presenting the performance of the 28 Member States in a wide range of areas, from connectivity and digital skills to the digitisation of businesses and public services. The Index shows that the EU is making progress but the gap between top digital players and lower-performing countries is still too wide. More efforts and investments are needed to make the most of the Digital Single Market.
Belgium ranks 6th in DESI 2017. It ranks highest in connectivity (3rd) and integration of digital technology by businesses (5th), while digital public services are its biggest relative weakness. Belgium’s key challenge is to continuously improve its mobile connectivity.
The European Parliament and Member States are encouraged to adopt these proposals as soon as possible so that Europe can make the most of digital opportunities.
Taking into account the DESI results, the Commission will unveil its mid-term review of the Digital Single Market strategy in May to identify where further efforts or legislative proposals may be needed to address future challenges.
Information chart Belgium.