HC Deb 11 November 1999 vol 337 c774W
Mr. Jim Marshall

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the outcome was of the ECOFIN Council held in Brussels on 8 November; and if he will make a statement. [98156]

Miss Melanie Johnson

The Paymaster General attended the Economic and Finance Council of Ministers in Brussels on 8 November.

There was a discussion of the proposed "tax package" (code of conduct on business taxation, taxation of savings and elimination of withholding taxes on cross order interest and royalty payments between companies). The United Kingdom position, set out in its paper on international bonds presented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the informal meeting of the Council in September, remains unchanged.

The Council agreed the detail of the funding package for HIPC (highly indebted poor countries) announced in Washington in September. A draft report on economic policy co-ordination was introduced by the chairman of the Economic and Finance Committee. This will be discussed again at the meeting on 29 November. A common statement on the introduction of euro notes and coins was agreed. The renewal of the European Investment Bank's mandate for lending to third countries was agreed, subject to a reservation by one member state. The Council took note of a Commission communication on risk capital and invited the Commission to prepare, for the Special European Council in Lisbon next March, a monitoring and benchmarking mechanism which would enable the Council to develop and implement the Risk capital Action Plan by identifying clear priorities and setting measurable objectives where appropriate. The chairman of the Economic Policy Committee (EPC) presented the joint opinions of the EPC and the Employment and Labour Market committee on the draft Guidelines for member states' employment policies for the year 2000 and on the draft Recommendations on the implementation of member states' employment policies. These will be discussed further at the joint ECOFIN/Social Affairs Council on 29 November.

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