HC Deb 12 May 1999 vol 331 cc166-7W
Mr. Jim Marshall

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the outcome of the ECOFIN Council held in Brussels on 10 May; and if he will make a statement. [83973]

Ms Hewitt

I attended the Economic and Finance Council-ECOFIN-of the European Union in Brussels on 10 May 1999. There was an orientation debate on the Commission's draft 1999 Broad Economic Policy Guidelines. The draft was broadly welcomed. ECOFIN will agree a text at the 25 May ECOFIN after further discussion at official level.

The Presidency's draft European Employment Pact was discussed. The Pact will be discussed further at official level before being adopted by the joint meeting of ECOFIN and the Social Affairs Council on 25 May. The Employment Pact was also discussed informally over lunch with the Social Partners.

The Commission presented to ECOFIN its preliminary draft budget for 2000, which it had adopted on 28 April. Discussion emphasised the need for budget discipline.

The President of the Economic and Financial Committee proposed a procedure for involving ECOFIN in the formulation of Common Strategies. The proposals were agreed.

I urged the Commission to speed up the disbursement of already agreed funds for the Federal Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania.