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20 September 2018

Septem­ber 2018 month­ly re­port

Translated abstract of the Federal Ministry of Finance’s September 2018 monthly report

Federal budget trends up to and including August 2018

Trends in the federal budget

 

Actual 2017

2018 target

Actual1 January–August 2018

Expenditure (€bn)2

325.4

343.6

222.2

Year-on-year change in % (year to date)

 

+1.3

Revenue (€bn)2

330.4

341.7

221.4

Year-on-year change in % (year to date)

 

+7.1

Tax revenue (€bn)

309.4

321.3

204.0

Year-on-year change in % (year to date)

 

+6.0

Fiscal balance (€bn)

5.0

-1.9

-0.8

Financing/use of surplus:

-5.0

1.9

0.8

Cash resources (€bn)

-

-

42.2

Seigniorage (€bn)

0.3

0.3

0.2

Movements in reserves3 (€bn)

-5.3

1.6

0.0

Net borrowing4 (€bn)

0.0

0.0

-41.6

Revenue

Federal revenue for the January–August 2018 period totalled €221.4bn, a rise of 7.1% (€14.6bn) over the same period last year. Tax revenue (including EU own resources) increased by 6.0% (€11.6bn). This can partly be attributed to a baseline effect: In the same period of 2017, nuclear fuel duty totalling €7.3bn, including interest, was repaid to energy supply companies, following the Federal Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 April 2017. In addition, receipts from income tax and corporation tax were €5.5bn higher than in the same period of 2017.

Other revenue posted a year-on-year gain of 21.3% (€3.1bn) in the January–August 2018 period. This was mainly due to an increase in allocations from the Bundesbank’s profits, with allocations totalling €1.9bn, up by €1.5bn over the same period last year. Additionally, allocations from the Institute for Federal Real Estate were up by €0.5bn on the year.

Trends in federal revenue

Actual 2017

2018 target

Actual

Year-on-year

change (year to date)

January to August 2017

January to August 2018

in €m

share in %

in €m

share in %

in €m

in %

I. Tax revenue

309,376

93.6

321,307

94.0

192,392

203,977

+6.0

Federal share of joint taxes:

252,630

76.5

263,900

77.2

159,749

167,349

+4.8

Income tax and corporation tax (incl. final withholding tax on interest and capital gains)

136,685

41.4

144,503

42.3

83,805

89,317

+6.6

of which:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wages tax

83,121

25.2

87,741

25.7

51,965

55,255

+6.3

Assessed income tax

25,256

7.6

26,173

7.7

13,198

13,357

+1.2

Non-assessed taxes on earnings

10,451

3.2

10,950

3.2

8,120

9,206

+13.4

Final withholding tax on interest and capital gains

3,227

1.0

3,474

1.0

2,227

2,369

+6.4

Corporation tax

14,629

4.4

16,165

4.7

8,295

9,131

+10.1

Value added taxes (VAT)

114,005

34.5

117,426

34.4

74,872

76,928

+2.7

Trade tax apportionment

1,941

0.6

1,971

0.6

1,072

1,103

+2.9

Energy duty

41,022

12.4

41,300

12.1

21,973

21,973

+0.0

Tobacco duty

14,399

4.4

14,160

4.1

8,801

8,715

 -1.0

Solidarity surcharge

17,953

5.4

18,750

5.5

11,237

11,923

+6.1

Insurance tax

13,269

4.0

13,670

4.0

10,496

10,942

+4.2

Electricity duty

6,944

2.1

6,930

2.0

4,591

4,643

+1.1

Motor vehicle tax

8,948

2.7

9,010

2.6

6,348

6,437

+1.4

Nuclear fuel tax

-7,262

-2.2

0

0.0

-7,261

0

X

Alcohol duty

2,096

0.6

2,102

0.6

1,396

1,418

+1.6

Coffee duty

1,057

0.3

1,055

0.3

672

665

 -1.0

Aviation tax

1,121

0.3

1,175

0.3

675

707

+4.7

Deductions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supplementary grants to Länder

9,229

X

8,545

X

4,761

4,245

 -10.8

EU own resources (GNI-based)

14,258

X

22,610

X

7,899

12,831

+62.4

EU own resources (VAT-based)

2,362

X

2,510

X

1,575

1,581

+0.4

Grants to Länder for public transport

8,348

X

8,498

X

5,565

5,665

+1.8

Grants to Länder for motor vehicle tax and HGV toll

8,992

X

8,992

X

6,744

6,744

+0.0

II. Other revenue

21,025

6.4

20,360

6.0

14,352

17,409

+21.3

Revenue from economic activity

3,868

1.2

5,172

1.5

2,838

4,952

+74.5

Interest revenue

344

0.1

309

0.1

212

221

+4.2

Loan repayments, holdings, privatisation proceeds

1,786

0.5

1,939

0.6

914

1,602

+75.3

Total revenue1

330,401

100.0

341,667

100.0

206,744

221,386

+7.1

Expenditure

Cumulative federal expenditure for the period from January to August 2018 totalled €222.2bn, an increase of 1.3% (€2.9bn) on the year. Federal spending is separated into consumption and investment expenditure. In the January–August 2018 period, consumption spending was 1.8% higher than in the same period of 2017. This was primarily a result of increases in military procurement spending (up by 8.9%) and ongoing grants to public administrations (up by 21.9%). In the latter category, the Federation’s allocation of €2.1bn to the Energy and Climate Fund in August had the biggest impact on results. In addition, this category also includes federal grants to reimburse the Länder for social spending on basic income support for older people and for people with reduced earning capacity. This totalled roughly €900m in the fourth quarter of 2017, but the reimbursements were not paid until 2018. There was no such spending in the first quarter of 2017. Grants for other areas saw a below-average year-on-year rise in the January–August 2018 period, tempering the increase in consumption expenditure. More specifically, there was a significant rise of 3.0% in social security spending during this period, accompanied by declines in grants for pensions and benefits (such as basic income support for jobseekers, which was down by 3.6%) and grants to companies. Interest expenditure fell by 6.5% on the year, also slowing the increase in consumption spending. Investment spending totalled €17.8bn, which represents 45% of the target level for 2018. This figure is slightly skewed by the fact that the budgeted amount includes a €2.4bn allocation to a special digital infrastructure fund. However, the fund is currently still going through the parliamentary procedure, meaning that there have not yet been any actual outflows. Investment spending was down by 4.2% on the year in the January–August 2018 period. This is mainly due to the allocations to increase the equity of Deutsche Bahn AG by €1bn that occurred in August 2017. Fixed asset investment was up significantly, by 3.2% on the year, boosting investment spending.

Trends in federal expenditure by function

Actual 2017

2018 target

Actual

Year-on-year

change (year to date)

January to August 2017

January to August 2018

in €m

share in %

in €m

share in %

in €m

in %

General public services

77,006

23.7

81,712

 23.8

48,006

47,907

 -0.2

Economic cooperation and development

8,330

2.6

9,389

 2.7

4,207

4,071

 -3.2

Defence

36,419

11.2

38,002

 11.1

22,810

23,424

+2.7

Government, central administration

15,858

4.9

17,388

 5.1

10,824

11,303

+4.4

Revenue administration

4,554

1.4

4,891

 1.4

2,983

2,977

 -0.2

Education, science, research, cultural affairs

22,984

7.1

24,207

 7.0

12,561

12,515

 -0.4

Support for school and university students and training programme participants

3,603

1.1

3,993

 1.2

2,282

2,223

 -2.6

Science, research and development outside of higher education institutions

12,268

3.8

13,290

 3.9

5,902

6,227

+5.5

Social security, family affairs and youth, labour market policy

168,801

51.9

173,006

 50.4

118,378

121,734

+2.8

Social insurance including unemployment insurance

111,703

34.3

115,063

 33.5

80,987

83,445

+3.0

Labour market policy

37,590

11.6

36,728

 10.7

24,964

24,206

 -3.0

including:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic income support for jobseekers under Book II of the Social Code

21,423

6.6

20,400

 5.9

14,687

14,153

 -3.6

Government housing and heating allowances under Book II of the Social Code

6,753

2.1

6,900

 2.0

4,500

4,524

+0.5

Family assistance, welfare services, etc.

8,296

2.5

8,946

 2.6

5,578

6,104

+9.4

Social benefits for the consequences of war and political events

1,930

0.6

2,082

 0.6

1,367

1,263

 -7.6

Health, environment, sport, recreation

2,303

0.7

2,856

 0.8

1,251

1,245

 -0.5

Housing, regional planning and local community services

2,923

0.9

3,549

 1.0

1,870

1,773

 -5.2

Housing, home ownership savings premium

2,267

0.7

2,580

 0.8

1,688

1,566

 -7.3

Food, agriculture and forestry

1,068

0.3

1,233

 0.4

401

330

 -17.7

Energy and water supply, trade and services

4,195

1.3

5,481

 1.6

2,964

2,398

 -19.1

Regional support measures

726

0.2

910

 0.3

398

277

 -30.4

Mining, manufacturing and construction

1,532

0.5

1,491

 0.4

1,337

1,182

 -11.6

Transport and communication

21,228

6.5

21,140

 6.2

12,581

12,048

 -4.2

Roads

9,484

2.9

10,081

 2.9

5,129

5,720

+11.5

Railways and public transport

7,047

2.2

6,162

 1.8

4,389

3,458

 -21.2

Financial management

30,532

9.4

30,416

 8.9

21,507

22,466

+4.5

Interest expenditure and borrowing-related expenditure

17,500

5.4

18,107

 5.3

16,272

15,215

 -6.5

Total expenditure1

325,380

100.0

343,600

 100.0

219,305

222,185

+1.3

Trends in federal expenditure by economic category

Actual 2017

2018 target

Actual

Year-on-year

change (year to date)

January to August 2017

January to August 2018

in €m

share in %

in €m

share in %

in €m

in %

Consumption expenditure

291,367

89.5

304,483

88.6

200,689

204,342

+1.8

Human resources expenditure

31,824

9.8

33,397

9.7

21,801

21,965

+0.8

Salary payments

23,182

7.1

24,796

7.2

15,675

15,823

+0.9

Pensions

8,643

2.7

8,602

2.5

6,126

6,142

+0.3

Operating expenditure

28,693

8.8

30,587

8.9

16,173

16,585

+2.5

Administrative expenditure (excl. human resources)

1,571

0.5

1,588

0.5

933

1,017

+9.0

Military procurement

10,625

3.3

12,316

3.6

5,331

5,803

+8.9

Other

16,498

5.1

16,682

4.9

9,909

9,765

 -1.5

Interest expenditure

17,497

5.4

18,098

5.3

16,270

15,212

 -6.5

Ongoing grants and subsidies

212,582

65.3

221,491

64.5

145,873

150,020

+2.8

to public administrations

24,814

7.6

28,691

8.4

15,747

19,188

+21.9

to other areas

187,768

57.7

192,800

56.1

130,126

130,832

+0.5

including:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Companies

28,527

8.8

30,362

8.8

18,057

17,584

 -2.6

Pensions, assistance, etc.

30,127

9.3

29,391

8.6

20,672

20,292

 -1.8

Social security funds

117,495

36.1

120,190

35.0

84,431

86,978

+3.0

Other asset transfers

770

0.2

910

0.3

572

560

 -2.1

Investment expenditure

34,013

10.5

39,803

11.6

18,617

17,843

 -4.2

Financial assistance

24,170

7.4

29,312

8.5

13,574

12,640

 -6.9

Grants and subsidies

21,421

6.6

27,131

7.9

11,541

11,973

+3.7

Loans, guarantees

1,221

0.4

1,618

0.5

765

554

 -27.6

Acquisition of holdings; capital contributions

1,528

0.5

564

0.2

1,267

113

 -91.1

Fixed asset investment

9,843

3.0

10,490

3.1

5,043

5,204

+3.2

Construction projects

7,631

2.3

7,742

2.3

3,897

4,146

+6.4

Acquisition of movable assets

1,713

0.5

1,954

0.6

853

772

 -9.5

Acquisition of real property

499

0.2

794

0.2

293

285

 -2.7

General reduction/increase in expenditure

0

0.0

-686

-0.2

0

0

X

Total expenditure1

325,380

100.0

343,600

100.0

219,305

222,185

+1.3

Fiscal balance

The federal budget recorded a deficit of €0.8bn for the period from January to August 2018.

Revenue and expenditure are subject to strong fluctuations over the course of the fiscal year and thus have an uneven effect on cash funds in individual months. Net borrowing also tends to fluctuate considerably over the course of the year. This means that the fiscal balance at this point in the year and the corresponding net borrowing figures are not reliable indicators of the end-of-year figures for the fiscal balance and net borrowing.

Trends in general government tax revenue

2018 trends in tax revenue (excluding local authority taxes)

2018

August

Year-on-year
change 

January

to August

Year-on-year

change  

2018 estimates4

Year-on-year
change

in €m

in %

in €m

in %

in €m

in %

Joint taxes            
Wages tax2

16,451

+4.3

134,145

+6.3

206,450

+5.6

Assessed income tax

-457

X

31,428

+1.2

61,650

+3.7

Non-assessed taxes on earnings

1,079

 -61.6

18,417

+13.4

21,900

+4.7

Final withholding tax on interest and capital gains

(including the former withholding tax on interest income)

438

+6.1

5,383

+6.4

7,895

+7.7

Corporation tax

48

+140.4

18,262

+10.1

32,330

+10.5

Value added taxes (VAT)

20,665

+8.6

155,035

+3.6

235,000

+3.8

Trade tax apportionment

232

 -14.1

2,661

+2.8

4,758

+1.6

Increased trade tax apportionment

61

 -2.1

2,158

+2.0

3,899

+0.1

Total joint taxes

38,518

+1.9

367,490

+5.1

573,882

+4.8

Taxes accruing to the Federation
Energy duty

3,447

 -0.3

21,973

+0.0

41,300

+0.7

Tobacco duty

1,248

 -5.7

8,715

 -1.0

14,160

-1.7

Alcohol duty (formerly spirits duty)

184

+10.1

1,417

+1.6

2,100

+0.3

Insurance tax

1,337

+2.8

10,942

+4.3

13,670

+3.0

Electricity duty

581

+9.7

4,643

+1.1

6,930

-0.2

Motor vehicle tax

765

+6.3

6,437

+1.4

9,010

+0.7

Aviation tax

123

+17.8

707

+4.8

1,175

+4.9

Nuclear fuel duty

0

X

0

X

0

X

Solidarity surcharge

1,038

+7.0

11,923

+6.1

18,750

+4.4

Other taxes accruing to the Federation

112

+5.5

937

+0.4

1,467

+1.5

Total taxes accruing to the Federation

8,834

+14.7

67,694

+14.4

108,562

+8.6

Taxes accruing to the Länder
Inheritance tax

505

 -5.0

4,590

+10.6

6,020

-1.5

Real property transfer tax

1,259

+5.0

9,302

+6.0

13,900

+5.8

Betting and lottery tax

158

+9.6

1,276

+2.6

1,851

+0.8

Beer duty

62

+3.2

444

 -0.4

665

+0.1

Other taxes accruing to the Länder

25

 -0.6

345

+1.4

465

+3.1

Total taxes accruing to the Länder

2,009

+2.5

15,957

+6.7

22,901

+3.1

EU own resources
Customs duties

510

+17.8

3,301

 -1.8

5,200

+2.7

VAT-based own resources

201

+2.1

1,581

+0.4

2,510

+6.3

GNI-based own resources

1,790

+130.1

12,831

+62.4

22,610

+58.6

Total EU own resources

2,501

+77.6

17,713

+38.0

30,320

+39.8

Federation3

22,618

+1.4

204,923

+6.0

321,336

+3.9

Länder 3

21,634

+1.4

201,323

+4.5

310,276

+4.0

EU

2,501

+77.6

17,713

+38.0

30,320

+39.8

Local authorities’ share of income and value added tax

3,118

+9.8

30,484

+8.0

48,613

+7.7

Total tax revenue (excluding local authority taxes)

49,872

+4.1

454,442

+6.4

710,545

+5.3

Tax revenue in August 2018

Total tax revenue (excluding local authority taxes) was up by 4.1% in August 2018 over the same month last year. Revenue from joint taxes climbed by 1.9%, with receipts from value added taxes and wages tax posting particularly high growth. Receipts from non-assessed taxes on earnings fell sharply on the year, partially offsetting the strong growth in revenue from this tax type in recent months. Revenue from taxes accruing solely to the Federation was up by 14.7% on the year. Here, the 2017 baseline figure was reduced by around €1.0bn due to nuclear fuel duty refunds. If the impact of nuclear fuel duty is factored out, the increase in federal tax revenue would only have totalled around 1.8%. Receipts from taxes accruing to the Länder were up by 2.5% on the year.

EU own resources

Transfers of own resources to the EU, including customs duties, totalled around €2.5bn in August 2018, representing an increase of 77.6% over August 2017. Transfers to the EU are based on the planned financial framework for 2018, with fluctuations over the course of the year depending on the EU’s financing needs at any given time.

Cumulative overview of the January–August 2018 period

Total tax receipts increased by 6.4% on the year in the first eight months of 2018. Broken down by category, revenue from joint taxes was up by 5.1% on the year, receipts from federal taxes increased by 14.4%, and the yield from Länder taxes rose by 6.7%.

Distribution among the Federation, Länder and local authorities

The Federation’s tax receipts (after accounting for supplementary federal grants to the Länder ) were up by 1.4% on the year in August 2018. Länder tax receipts recorded a year-on-year gain of 1.4%. There was a marked increase in transfers of EU own resources from the federal budget. This was balanced out by an improvement in the trend in revenue from nuclear fuel duty, however. Although no more income or repayments were recorded for this tax in August 2018, a refund of around €1bn was made in August 2017. The local authorities’ take from joint taxes was up by 9.8% on the year.

Joint taxes

Wages tax

Wages tax receipts again recorded strong growth in August 2018, with gross revenue from this tax increasing by 3.9% on the year. This reflected continuing employment growth and rising incomes in Germany. Child benefit payments – which are financed from receipts from wages tax – fell by 0.7% on the year in August 2018. One Land has been experiencing problems with the statistical reporting of child benefit in recent months, which continues to distort this figure. However, this effect had no impact on cash receipts. On balance, cash receipts from wages tax increased by 4.3% in year-on-year terms in August 2018. In cumulative terms, cash receipts from wages tax were up by 6.3% on the year in the January-August 2018 period.

Corporation tax

Receipts from corporation tax amounted to around €47m in August, generally a low-revenue month for this tax. This represented an increase over August 2017, when revenue totalled approximately €25m. The cumulative result is more meaningful: Taken cumulatively, cash receipts from corporation tax were up by 10.1% on the year in the January–August period, to reach approximately €18.3bn.

Assessed income tax

Revenue from assessed income tax in August was also mainly generated from assessment activities, with gross receipts increasing to around €1.0bn (an increase of 34.9% in year-on-year terms). Employee refunds also posted a rise (of 9.9%). After subtracting these (along with investment allowance payments and owner-occupied homes premiums, which are negligible in terms of amount), net refunds of assessed income tax amounted to approximately €0.5bn in August 2018. In cumulative terms, cash receipts from assessed income tax totalled €31.4bn in the January–August 2018 period, an increase of 1.2% on the year.

Non-assessed taxes on earnings

August 2018 saw a 59.4% year-on-year drop in gross receipts from non-assessed taxes on earnings. Taking into account a decline in refunds paid out by the Federal Central Tax Office, which are financed from this revenue, cash receipts from non-assessed taxes on earnings fell by 61.6% in August 2018. This represents a downwards correction following several months of strong growth in revenue from these taxes as a result of changes in dividend dates. Cumulative cash receipts from non-assessed taxes on earnings were up by 13.4% on the year in the January–August period.

Final withholding tax on interest and capital gains

Revenue from final withholding tax on interest and capital gains rose by 6.1% on the year in August 2018. Taken cumulatively, cash receipts from final withholding tax on interest and capital gains were up by 6.4% in year-on-year terms in January–August 2018.

Value added taxes (VAT)

The yield from value added taxes posted a significant increase of 8.6% on the year in August 2018. This was the highest increase in any month of 2018 so far and represents a strong upwards correction following the weak revenue trend in 2017. Revenue from domestic VAT rose sharply, by 7.9% in year-on-year terms, while import VAT receipts climbed by 10.4% on the year. Cumulative cash receipts from value added taxes were up by 3.6% on the year in the first eight months of 2018.

Taxes accruing to the Federation

Receipts from taxes accruing solely to the Federation were up by 14.7% on the year in August 2018. However, revenue growth was considerably inflated due to the trend in receipts from nuclear fuel duty. In August 2018, no income or expenditure was posted with regard to nuclear fuel duty. However, in August 2017, refunds of around €1.0bn were paid out. Excluding this effect, the rise in revenue from federal taxes would have totalled around 1.8%. Solidarity surcharge, motor vehicle tax, electricity duty and insurance tax all posted year-on-year revenue gains in August 2018 (up by 7.0%, 6.3%, 9.7% and 2.8%, respectively). Receipts from tobacco duty and energy duty were down on the year in August (by 5.7% and 0.3%, respectively). Trends in revenue from other taxes had only a minor impact on the overall results for federal taxes.

Taxes accruing to the Länder

Revenue from taxes accruing solely to the Länder was up by 2.5% on the year in August 2018. This trend was driven by a significant increase in revenue from real property transfer tax (+5.0%) and higher receipts from betting and lottery tax (+9.6%). The yield from beer duty also increased by 3.2% in year-on-year terms. Revenue from fire protection tax remained roughly at last year’s level (-0.4%). Receipts from inheritance tax dropped by 5.0% on the year.

Borrowing and guarantees

Debt trends for the Federation and its special funds (in €m)

Debt level

Borrowing
(increase)

Debt repayment
(decrease)

Debt level 

Change in debt level
(balance)

31 July 2018

August 2018

August 2018

31 August 2018

August 2018

Budget borrowing

1,074,920

15,057

-7,041

1,082,936

8,016

broken down by purpose

Federal budget

1,033,496

15,057

-7,041

1,041,512

8,016

Financial Market Stabilisation Fund

22,466

-

-

22,466

-

Investment and Redemption Fund

18,958

0

-

18,958

0

broken down by debt type

Federal securities

1,062,300

15,057

-7,041

1,070,316

8,016

Federal bonds

694,160

5,928

-

700,088

5,928

30-year federal bonds

213,574

993

-

214,567

993

10-year federal bonds

480,586

4,936

-

485,521

4,936

Inflation-linked federal securities

63,554

2

-

63,556

2

30-year inflation-linked federal bonds

7,504

27

-

7,531

27

10-year inflation-linked federal bonds

56,051

-25

-

56,026

-25

Federal notes

188,626

2,875

-

191,501

2,875

Federal Treasury notes

95,753

3,839

-

99,592

3,839

Treasury discount papers issued by the Federation

18,755

2,413

-7,023

14,145

-4,610

Other federal securities

1,451

-

-19

1,432

-19

Securitised loans

8,145

-

-

8,145

-

Other loans and ordinary debts

4,475

-

-

4,475

-

broken down by maturity

up to one year

159,439

 

 

154,972

-4,467

one to four years

323,566

 

 

327,183

3,617

over four years

591,915

 

 

600,781

8,866

Additional information1

Liabilities from the capital indexing of inflation-linked federal securities

4,648

 

 

4,735

87

Reserves in accordance with the Final Payment Financing Act (Schlusszahlungsfinanzierungsgesetz)

3,484

 

 

3,484

-

Guarantees

  

Authorised

amount

Amount allocated

as of 30 June 2018

Amount allocated

as of 30 June 2017

in €bn

Export credit guarantees

160.0

118.5

124.5

Loans to foreign debtors, foreign direct investment, EIB loans

65.0

43.0

44.0

Financial cooperation projects

28.5

20.7

17.9

Food stockpiling

0.7

0.0

0.0

Domestic guarantees

158.0

100.8

102.5

International financial institutions

66.0

60.1

60.0

Treuhandanstalt successor organisations

1.0

1.0

1.0

Interest compensation guarantees

8.0

15.0

15.0

Calendar

Publication schedule of the monthly reports

Monthly report Reporting period Publication date
October 2018 issue

September 2018 

22 October 2018

November 2018 issue

October 2018

22 November 2018 

December 2018 issue

November 2018 

20 December 2018

Key dates on the fiscal and economic policy agenda

1–2 October 2018

Eurogroup and ECOFIN Council meetings in Luxembourg

11 October 2018

Meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Bali

12–13 October 2018

Annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Bali

5–6 November 2018

Eurogroup and ECOFIN Council meetings in Brussels

30 November–1 December 2018

G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina

3–4 December 2018

Eurogroup and ECOFIN Council meetings in Brussels