HC Deb 21 November 1986 vol 105 c366W
Mr. Raffan

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the latest meeting of the European Community's Ecnomic and Finance Council.

Mr. Lawson

The ECOFIN council met in Brussels on Monday, 17 November, under my chairmanship. My hon. friend, the Minister of State, Treasury, represented the United Kingdom.

The council adopted two further internal market directives. The first was a directive to remove exchange controls over certain capital transactions within the Community. The adoption of this directive represents a significant step forward in the process of achieving complete liberalisation of capital movements within the Community by 1992.

The second was the 13th VAT directive which harmonises the system for refunding VAT to traders established in third countries.

The council agreed in principle that 1.5 billion ecuabout £1.1 billion— should he made available for lending to small and medium-sized enterprises throughout the Community. The money would be raised in two tranches of 750 mecu each: the first tranche to be borrowed by the Commission and the second by the European Investment bank. In both cases, the European Investment bank would be responsible for managing the lending.

The council had a first discussion of the Commission's annual economic report. There was broad agreement on its latest draft. The Commission will now consider various detailed amendments put forward by member states. The amended report is due to be adopted at the December ECOFIN in the light of opinions expressed by the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee.

The council took note of a presidency report on progress made on indirect tax matters during the United Kingdom presidency. It invited COREPER to speed up its examination of proposals on VAT and excise duties, particularly on the draft VAT directive on the threshold and other matters concerning small businesses.

The council discussed two items under article 8 of the budget discipline conclusions, which provides that ECOFIN should examine, before they are adopted, programmes with considerable financial implications over several years. The items discussed were the Commission's proposals for a Community research and development framework programme for 1987–91, and for a fisheries structures programme. The council stressed the need for cost-effective measures, and for provision to be considered in the context of the annual budget procedure and in the light of the available resources for all Community programmes.

Forward to