§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
[holding answer 1 November 1995]: I represented the United Kingdom at the Economic and Finance Council of the European Union in Luxembourg on 23 October.
The Council welcomed Finland's convergence programme.
The Council agreed, in principle, that a single, short report on employment prepared by representatives of the Economic Policy Committee, the Commission and the Social Affairs Council be submitted to the Madrid European Council.
The Council considered a communication from the Commission on the approximation of excise duty rates, in which all that is proposed is further detailed consultation.
The Council discussed the loan guarantee fund and specifically the level of the guarantee from the Community budget for European investment banks 506W external lending. Most member states agreed that the level of the guarantee should be reduced from 100 per cent. to 75 per cent. It was decided that further work was required on the conditions of the guarantee.
The Council mandated the Committee of Perparent Representatives and the financial questions working group to continue work on a Commission proposal for a directive on a carbon/energy tax, providing a framework for those member states wishing to levy such a tax.
There were discussions with the Finance and Economic Ministers of the central and east European countries on banking and financial issues.