To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the outcome of the latest meeting of the European Community's Economic and Finance Council.
The ECOFIN Council met in Luxembourg on 23 April. The Paymaster General and I represented the United Kingdom. The Council heard a report on the presidency's negotiations with the European Parliament on the revision of the financial perspective but without substantive discussion. The German Finance Minister reported on the latest developments regarding economic and monetary union between the two Germanies. There was further discussion of the site and presidency of the European bank for reconstruction and development. I stressed the strong case for London and the need for an early decision in order to begin the bank's work in eastern Europe as soon as possible. I also emphasised the need to maintain budgetary discipline in the context of agricultural price fixing.A brief note from the presidency outlining the necessary procedures for conducting multilateral surveillance of member states' economies was also agreed, as was the text of a speech to be given by the presidency at the forthcoming meeting of the interim committee of the International Monetary Fund.The presidency offered a progress report on discussions concerning the scope of zero and reduced VAT rates, pointing out that there was a need for further work on a wide range of issues before decisions could be taken. In the subsequent discussion, the Paymaster General expressed our regret that no progress was made in accepting the Commission's proposals for substantial increases in travellers' allowances between now and the completion of the single market on 1 January 1993.A package of three tax measures which would encourage cross-border co-operation in tax affairs was also discussed but without agreement.