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Volume 448: debated on Wednesday 28 June 2006

On 7 June 2006, I represented the UK at the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).

The Council held a debate on reports by the Commission and the European Central Bank on fulfilment by Slovenia and Lithuania of the Maastricht Treaty convergence criteria and their obligations regarding Economic and Monetary Union membership.

ECOFIN was briefed by the Commission on the EU's dialogue and co-operation with the United States on economic issues, in the run-up to the EU-US summit to be held in Vienna on 21 June. The Commission's briefing covered economic co-operation majoring on the financial markets regulatory dialogue. The UK welcomed the Commission's progress and pressed for greater detail on priority areas for progress next year, including moving into new sectors.

The Council agreed on renewal of value-added tax arrangements for e-commerce from 1 July until 31 December 2006 and to continue work on the other elements of the package of VAT measures with a view to reaching global agreement by the end of the year. The UK supported both these measures.

ECOFIN welcomed unanimously the production of the communication of the Commission to the Council on combating tax fraud.

The Commission presented its communication on work undertaken by a technical working group examining company tax obstacles inhibiting the functioning of the internal market. ECOFIN held an exchange of views. No conclusions were drawn.

ECOFIN also took note of a report from the Code of Conduct Group for Business Taxation and adopted conclusions welcoming the progress made by the group during the Austrian presidency.