Ecofin

Treasury written statement – made on 14th May 2008.

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Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling The Chancellor of the Exchequer

The Economic and Financial Affairs Council will be held in Brussels on 14 May 2008. Items on the agenda are as follows:

Quality of Public Finances: Efficiency of Public Expenditure on Social Transfers and Education

Member states will be invited to adopt Council conclusions on the quality of public finances following a discussion at the informal ECOFIN in Brdo, Slovenia in April. This builds on conclusions on the quality of public finances agreed under the German and Portuguese presidencies in 2007.

Western Balkans Investment Framework

Member states will be invited to adopt Council conclusions on the next steps on the Western Balkans investment framework. Progress on the investment framework, which will bring together the donor funding streams for the Western Balkans, is a priority for the Slovenian presidency. The UK supports work on the framework, which was discussed at the informal ECOFIN.

Financial Services i)Financial Stability Arrangements: Supervision, Including an Update of the Roadmaps

Following discussions at the informal ECOFIN, member states will be invited to agree a unified set of Council conclusions on arrangements on financial stability and supervision. The EFC has prepared the draft Council conclusions on supervision and an update of the roadmaps on "Review of the Lamfalussy Process", "Strengthening EU Arrangements for Financial Stability", and "On Actions Taken in Response to the Financial Turmoil". ii) Communication on Financial Education

The Council will be asked to agree to draft Council conclusions on financial education, which suggest some initiatives and practical assistance for helping member states to improve the levels of financial education within their countries. iii) White Paper on Mortgage Credits

Member states will be invited to agree to draft Council conclusions on a possible single market for mortgages. The UK supports voluntary initiatives that may improve EU market efficiency rather than harmonising consumer protection rules.

Dialogues with Third Countries: Economic and Financial Issues

The Council will receive an oral update from the Commission on the state of play of the dialogues with third countries, and it will discuss the economic and financial issues of the EU-US summit preparation and the ASEM Finance Ministers Meeting.

Taxation i) Indirect Taxation: Fight Against Tax Fraud

The Commission will debrief the Council orally on the state of play of the consideration of measures to combat tax fraud, as requested by the December 2007 ECOFIN. member states will also be asked to agree Council conclusions on VAT fraud. The UK is strongly supportive of work that will help in the fight against missing trader intra-community (MTIC) and other VAT fraud, while remaining committed to minimising the burdens on legitimate businesses. ii) Savings Taxation

The Commission will provide an informal oral report on the functioning of the savings tax directive in view of recent developments involving Liechtenstein investment vehicles and following the request of the March ECOFIN Council. The UK strongly supports the Commission's continued dialogue with third countries with a view to bringing them into the savings tax directive. iii) Good Governance in the Tax Area

Member states will be invited to agree draft conclusions containing a specific provision on good governance in the tax area, which is to be added to relevant agreements to be concluded by the Community and its member states with third countries.

Strategy for the Evolution of the Customs Union

Following the presentation by the Commission of its communication "Strategy for the Evolution of the Customs Union" in April, marking the 40-year anniversary of the customs union, the Council will be invited to adopt draft Council conclusions prepared by the customs working party.

Preliminary Draft General Budget 2009

The Commission will present the preliminary draft general budget (PDB) for 2009 to the Council. The presentation and publication of the PDB signals the start of the annual budget procedure, of which the next step will be the "first reading" by the Council in July 2008.