§ Roger Casale
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the outcome was of the ECOFIN Council held on 20 June; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. 1051W
§ Mr. Gordon Brown
I attended the ECOFIN meeting on 20 June.
ECOFIN agreed the Commission's recommendations for the broad economic policy guidelines for 2002 to 2003. The UK supports the guidelines which emphasise the importance of further structural reform in Europe. Following discussion at the Seville European Council the guidelines were adopted by ECOFIN on June 21.
ECOFIN discussed arrangements for launching the Euro-Mediterranean Facility in the European Investment bank. It was decided that the facility would be launched in the autumn on the basis of the commission's funding plan but that the European Investment bank, the commission and the council would take forward discussions on the allocation of funds for the facility.
The council agreed two reports to go to the European Council at Seville. The first was a progress report on energy taxation, and the second an updated report on the tax package, following the launch of negotiations with the Swiss on the tax on savings.
Commissioner Bolkestein gave a short oral report to the council on the work of the financial action task force in combating terrorist financing and ECOFIN noted that this work was progressing satisfactorily.
ECOFIN was also updated by the chair of the Economic and Financial Committee on on-going work to improve corporate governance in the EU.
The council also reached political agreement on a directive on taxation of biofuels.
No votes were taken at the meeting.