HC Deb 17 October 1994 vol 248 cc4-5W
Mr. Llew Smith

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what matters were discussed, what decisions taken and which were decided by vote, at the Ecofin Council on 19 September in Brussels.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I represented the United Kingdom at the Economic and Finance Council of the European Union in Brussels on 19 September.

The Council heard a summary from the President of the European Commission on current work on the White Paper follow-up. The Presidency outlined Ecofin's role in the run-up to the European Council at Essen in December. I emphasised the need to pull together the different strands of work effectively before Essen, and on trans-European networks, I stressed the importance of examining each priority project individually and reviewing the situation on the basis of results.

The Council examined the revised convergence programme for the Greek economy 1994–99. It urged the Greek Government to pursue vigorously all the policies necessary to achieve the targets of the programme. The Council agreed to review, in the context of the Union's multilateral surveillance procedures, including the excessive deficits procedure, the implementation of the convergence programme year for year over the period covered by the programme.

The Council welcomed Ireland's convergence programme 1994–96 and noted the strong performance of the Irish economy including the sound fiscal position and the continued reduction in Ireland's debt ratio. The Council encouraged the Irish Government to pursue the structural reforms and other policies necessary to improve the investment performance, sustain growth and achieve an enhanced employment performance.

The Council decided in accordance with article 104c.6 of the treaty on European Union that each member state, except Ireland and Luxembourg, has an excessive deficit.

The Council agreed a draft of the Presidency statement to the IMF/World bank meeting in Madrid.

The Council briefly discussed the Italian reserve on the own resources decision. It was agreed that this issue would be discussed again at the 10 October Ecofin.

No formal votes were taken at the Council meeting.