§ Mr. Gordon Brown
I attended ECOFIN on 10 February.
ECOFIN discussed preparation for the Spring Council on 25–26 March. There was broad agreement that further action was needed to reduce the European regulatory burden, promote investment and innovation and improve European labour market flexibility. ECOFIN therefore mandated the Economic Policy Committee (EPC) and the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC) to produce a key issues paper for the spring European Council for adoption at the 9 March ECOFIN.
It was agreed that the next ECOFIN would start with a breakfast discussion of the four Presidencies regulatory reform initiative. I presented the Government's White Paper on the European Economic Reform1, stressing that while important reforms had been undertaken, a lot of work remained to be done. ECOFIN also adopted conclusions on the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines Implementation Report and endorsed the EPC report on structural reform.
On the Savings Tax Directive, the Commission reported on the progress of its negotiations with Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, San Marino and Switzerland. ECOFIN unanimously supported the Commission's negotiating position and agreed not to accept any further counter-requests. The Council also unanimously agreed that the agreement negotiated with Switzerland should be concluded without further delay.
No votes were taken at the meeting.
1 HM Treasury, "Advancing long-term prosperity: Economic reform in enlarged Europe". Published February 2004.