The Economic and Financial Affairs Council will be held on 27 March in Brussels. The items on the agenda are as follows:
Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact
Stability and Convergence Programmes
Ministers will be invited to adopt Council Opinions on the Stability Programmes of Belgium and Spain, and on the Convergence Programmes of Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania. The UK supports a prudent interpretation of the SGP that takes account of country-specific factors including debt sustainability, the economic cycle and public investment.
General Budget of the European Union
Council Priorities for the 2008 Budget
Ministers will be invited to adopt Conclusions agreeing the Council's Budget Guidelines for the 2008 EC Budget. These guidelines are a set of broad principles that are designed to inform the subsequent and more detailed discussions on the level of appropriations required for the different areas of the Budget. These guidelines reflect the UK's desire to see a greater emphasis on the principles of budgetary discipline and sound financial management in the establishment of the 2008 EC Budget. Through these principles, the Council has underlined the importance it attaches to compliance with the financial framework and the strict respect of the annual limits therein.
Progress Report on the Commission Action Plan towards an Integrated Internal Control Framework
Ministers will hear a presentation from Commissioner Almunia updating them on the European Commission's progress in implementing its Action Plan towards an Integrated Internal Control Framework. The UK Government support the Commission's efforts to improve financial management of the EU Budget and announced to Parliament on 20 November 2006 that the UK would take a lead in showing how member states could improve their own management of EU funds.
Directive on Prudential Assessment of Acquisitions in the Financial Sector
Ministers will be asked to approve text amending the supervisory review process for cross-border mergers and acquisitions in the financial services sector, as adopted by the European Parliament on 13 March, and thus to confirm political agreement on the directive. The UK welcomes moves to bring greater transparency to the supervisory approvals process.
Directive on Payment Services in the Internal Market
Ministers will be asked to discuss the Presidency's proposal for harmonising the legal and technical provision of payment services across the EU, ahead of a vote in the European Parliament in April. The UK Government support a Directive that encourages competition and innovation in a single market for payment services.