UK Convergence Programme (2012-13)

Treasury written statement – made on 18th April 2013.

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Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

Section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993 requires the Government to report to Parliament for its approval an assessment of the UK’s medium-term economic and budgetary position. This assessment, which has been prepared annually since 1994, currently comprises the Budget report and the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR’s) economic and fiscal outlook.

This then forms the basis of the UK’s convergence programme, which is therefore based entirely on information already presented to Parliament. The UK is obliged to submit a convergence programme annually to the European Commission under article 121 of the treaty on the functioning of the European Union.

Article 121, along with article 126, is the legal basis for the stability and growth pact, which is the co-ordination mechanism for EU fiscal policies and requires member states to avoid excessive Government deficits. Although the UK is bound by the stability and growth pact, by virtue of its protocol to the treaty opting out of the euro, it is only required to “endeavour to avoid” excessive deficits. Unlike the euro area member states, the UK is not subject to sanctions at any stage of the European semester process.

Subject to the progress of Parliamentary business, debates will be held on 22 April for the House of Commons and 25 April for the House of Lords in order for both Houses to approve this assessment before the convergence programme is submitted to the Commission. While the convergence programme itself is not subject to parliamentary approval or amendment, I will deposit advanced copies of the document on 19 April that will be made available to Members through the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.

The Budget report and the Office for Budget Responsibility’s economic and fiscal outlook were laid in Parliament on 20 March 2013. All of the information the convergence programme will contain has therefore already been published and made available to Members.

The UK’s convergence programme will be published in late April and will be available electronically via HM Treasury’s website after publication. It will be submitted to the EU by 30 April as required by the European Commission.