§ Mr. Dunnett
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about the meeting of Finance Ministers in Brussels on 21st November.842W
§ Mr. Healey
The EEC Finance Council met under Belgian Presidency in Brussels on 21st November. The United Kingdom was represented by the Permanent Representative to the EEC, Sir Donald Maitland.
The Council adopted an annual report on the economic situation in the Community with guidelines for each member 843W State in 1978. The report will be deposited in Parliament when received; copies of the draft Report (R/2473/77) have already been deposited.
The Council resumed a discussion, which it had initiated in October, of a number of proposals designed to achieve a greater degree of convergence and co-ordination between the economies of member States. Ministers had a preliminary exchange of views on a Commission paper on the prospects for economic and monetary union, which it is proposed that the European Council should examine in December. The Council also called for studies by the appropriate Committees of proposals by the Commission for better co-ordination of national economic policies, with a view to reaching decisions early in 1978.
During this part of the discussion, the Council reached agreement in principle, subject to further detailed work, on a Presidency proposal to increase the EEC medium-term credit facilities. The Council also took note of a report by Central Bank Governors on the adjustment of short-term credit mechanisms and noted that the Governors would be reviewing this again in 1979. In view of the forthcoming meeting of the European Council, the Council also held an exchange of views on a Commission proposal for an EUA 1 billion borrowing and investment mechanism.
In separate discussion, the Council approved a draft directive on the co-ordination of laws to facilitate the taking up and pursuit of the business of credit institutions. Finally, the Council agreed in principle on the text of a directive laying down arrangements for mutual assistance by member States' tax authorities in the field of direct taxation.
§ Mr. Weetch
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about the meeting of Foreign Affairs and Finance Ministers in Brussels on 21st November.
§ Mr. Joel Barnett
A joint EEC Council of Foreign and Finance Ministers under Belgian Presidency met in Brussels on 21st November.
The Joint Council had a further discussion of the interpretation of Article 131 of the Treaty of Accession, which governs the contributions of the new mem 844W ber States in 1978 and 1979. A number suggestions were put forward, designed to reconcile the different interpretations of the Commission supported by the United Kingdom and Ireland, and several other member States, respectively. The financial and legal implications of these suggestions require careful study and I have undertaken to consider them carefully. It is proposed that the European Council be asked to consider this question in December.
The Council also adopted a common position on a regulation implementing in respect of VAT own resources the decision of 1970 on the replacement of financial contributions from member States by the Communities own resources. This common position will now be sent to the European Parliament to consider whether the conciliation procedure should be applied to it.