The Economic and Financial Affairs Council will be held in Brussels on 10 March 2009. The following items are on the agenda:
Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact - Stability and Convergence programmes
Ministers will adopt Council opinions on stability and convergence programmes of 21 EU member states. The UK supports a prudent interpretation of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) which takes into account the economic cycle, sustainability and the important role of public investment.
Preparation of the Spring European Council
a) Key Issues Paper
After discussion in February, ECOFIN will adopt the Key Issues Paper on economic and financial matters, which will be its main contribution to the spring European Council. The Government support the presidency’s paper, which emphasises the challenges in 2009, and the remaining need for action to stabilise financial markets and facilitate a speedy economic recovery.
b) Common messages to the G20 summit
Ministers will hold a discussion with a view to establishing the EU’s position on economic and finance matters to feed in to the G20 London summit in April. The Government believe that the EU should take a leading role in laying the foundations for a sustainable economic recovery.
c) Country-Specific Integrated Recommendations
ECOFIN will adopt a report to the European Council regarding broad guidelines for economic policy, which will include an assessment of the first year of the Lisbon Strategy’s second three-year cycle. The report will focus on country-specific integrated recommendations to be made to individual member states within the framework of the European economic recovery plan.
d) Reduced VAT rates
The presidency will seek political agreement on reduced rates of VAT. The Government will look carefully at the presidency’s draft compromise proposal and continue discussions with other member states at ECOFIN.
e) International financing of climate change
After discussion by Finance Ministers in January, the Council will agree a set of conclusions representing a joint EU position on the financing of climate change.
General budget of the European Union - Council priorities for the 2010 budget
The Council will be asked to adopt guidelines on its budgetary priorities for EU financial year 2010. The Government welcome these Council conclusions, which provide a useful base for ensuring a realistic and budget-disciplined 2010 EC budget.