HL Deb 14 October 1999 vol 605 cc92-4WA
Lord Strabolgi

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the outcome of the Economic and Finance Council of Ministers held on 8 October. [HL4205]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Economic Secretary to the Treasury attended the Economic and Finance Council of Ministers in Luxembourg on 8 October 1999.

The Commission presented the 1999 Employment Package. The Presidency stated that work would continue on the substance, in co-operation with the Social Affairs Council. There was a discussion of the state of implementation of OLAF, the European anti-fraud office. The Commission gave a presentation outlining its short-term work programme. There was further discussion of VAT on labour intensive services. With regard to taxation of savings, the Council noted the reports of the UK and other member states on discussions with their dependent territories. There was a discussion of ECOFIN's contribution to a common strategy of the Union for the Mediterranean region.

There was continuing discussion of the renewal of the European Investment Bank's mandate for lending to third countres. This will be discussed further at the 8 November ECOFIN. Subject to a formal Commission proposal, it was agreed to guarantee 600 million euro of EIB loans to Turkey, to help in the reconstruction following the recent earthquake. Greece drew attention to the damage caused by the Athens earthquake. The Commission were asked to consider ways forward. The European Investment Bank noted that it had already granted one million euro to Greece. Over lunch the Council had a discussion with Ministers from EFTA countries on matters of mutual interest, including current economic policy issues.