The Economic and Financial Affairs Council was held in Luxembourg on 20 October 2009. The following items were discussed:
Preparation for the G20 finance ministers’ meeting
Ministers received an update on process going forward to St. Andrews. The Council agreed a terms of reference on climate finance, exit strategies and the framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth which the Swedish presidency will take forward to the G20 meeting as the European contribution.
Preparation for the October European Council
a) Exit strategies
ECOFIN agreed a set of conclusions outlining the principles for design of fiscal exit strategies, reiterating that continuing support for the economy was essential until recovery was established. Ministers also agreed on the need for comprehensive structural reforms to provide the right framework for future sustainable growth and for strengthened national budgetary frameworks.
b) Financing of climate change
Ministers held a discussion on financing aspects of climate change. This will be further discussed by the October European Council.
c) Financial supervision
Ministers took stock of the significant progress made in negotiations on the creation of a new regulatory and supervisory architecture for the European Union. ECOFIN agreed that ongoing national parliamentary procedures must be respected, and concluded that the EU should continue to aim for agreement on the complete supervision package by the end of 2009 in order to have the new system in place as soon as possible.
The Government recognise the benefits of this new system, as set out by the June European Council, for Europe to improve regulatory and supervisory systems for the future and to provide a global lead on regulatory reform. The Government will work to ensure agreement by the end of the year.
European Systemic Risk Board
Ministers then discussed the draft regulation establishing a European systemic risk board (ESRB) and the draft Council decision entrusting the European Central Bank with specific tasks in relation to the ESRB. The UK maintained its Parliamentary scrutiny reserve on the proposals. The presidency concluded that there was broad agreement on the substance of the proposal of the regulation and would take further steps on the Council decision. ECOFIN will return to this in its meeting in December, when Ministers will also address the proposals for the new micro-supervisory structures.
Strengthening EU financial stability arrangements
ECOFIN agreed Council conclusions on the strengthening of EU arrangements to ensure financial stability and provide crisis management in the event of a future financial crisis. ECOFIN will consider this further in its meeting in December.
Taxation: Anti-fraud agreements with third countries
The Council discussed a draft anti-fraud agreement with Liechtenstein and a draft mandate for the Commission to open negotiations with Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Switzerland. The Council broadly agreed on the substance while noting political reservations by Austria and Luxembourg. Discussions will continue at working group level before coming back to ECOFIN in December.