HC Deb 26 June 1987 vol 118 cc2-3W
Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the European Community's Economic and Finance Council's meeting, and its joint meeting with the Agriculture Council, in Luxembourg on 15 June.

Mr. Nigel Lawson

The United Kingdom was represented at the joint Council by myself and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. I then attended the first part of the Economic and Finance Council, and Her Majesty's permanent representative to the European Communities represented the United Kingdom thereafter.

The joint Council discussed the Community's budgetary situation and this year's agricultural price fixing exercise. We stressed the need for the price fixing to make significant contributions to reducing the expenditure overruns anticipated for this year and next, and, more generally, to move the Community towards a more market oriented agriculture policy. We reiterated our firm opposition to the Commission's proposal for an oils and fats tax. We argued that the Community's arrangements for handling the agricultural consequences of currency realignments must be radically reformed and that the switch proposed by the Commission from advances to reimbursement of agricultural guarantee expenditure would be an essential element in solving the Community's budgetary problems in the current year. Discussion of these issues continues in the individual Councils.

The Economic and Finance Council formally adopted the reference framework for the 1988 Community budget on the basis of the common position reached at its meeting on 11 May.

The Council heard progress reports on the work being carried out by the Monetary Committee and the Committee of EC Central Bank Governors on strengthening the European monetary system.

The Council discussed draft directives on credit and suretyship insurance and mutual recognition of listing particulars to be issued when securities are admitted to official stock exchange listings. Both directives were referred to later Councils for further consideration.

The Council considered the Commission's formal report on the financial effects for Spain and Portugal of the Council's decision to delay reimbursement to member states of losses incurred on the disposal of butter stocks. The Council asked permanent representatives to examine the report in preparation for a substantive discussion at its July meeting.

The Council met a delegation from the European Parliament to discuss some technical amendments to a Community own resources regulation, on which the Council had previously reached a common position. Significant progress was made towards agreement.

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