Skip to main content

Economic and Financial Affairs Council

Volume 521: debated on Tuesday 18 January 2011

The Economic and Financial Affairs Council will be held in Brussels on 18 January 2011. The following items are on the agenda:

Presentation of the Presidency Work Programme

The Hungarian presidency will present its ECOFIN work programme for the first half of 2011.

Follow-up to the December European Council meeting

Council will discuss the outcomes of the European Council, where leaders agreed on a permanent mechanism to be established by euro area member states to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area as whole. The Government achieved their priorities on the European stability mechanism: that it will be for only euro area member states; replace the European financial stability facility (EFSF) and the European financial stabilisation mechanism (EFSM); and that in the future, article 122(2) TFEU will not be used for safeguarding the financial stability of the euro area.

Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact

The Council will discuss the assessment of action taken by Malta in the context of its excessive deficit procedure on the basis of a communication from the Commission. Actions taken by other member states could also be assessed on the basis of the Commission’s autumn economic forecast and the fiscal notifications. The Government expect the Council to agree that Malta has taken effective action regarding its deficit, in line with Council recommendations.

Introduction of the euro in Estonia: Practical experience

In line with past practice, the Council will have an exchange of views following the introduction of the euro in Estonia on 1 January 2011.

Annual Growth Survey

The adoption by the European Commission of the annual growth survey will mark the beginning of the first cycle of the European semester. From now on, every year the Commission will present its growth survey covering fiscal, structural and macroeconomic issues. This communication, which will be presented to the European Parliament and the Council, will serve as a basis for the guidelines and conclusions drawn up by the March European Council with a view to the medium-term budgetary strategies and national reform programmes to be adopted in April. The Government are content with this approach, given that they secured special wording in the new code of conduct which allows the UK to submit its budget to the EU after it has been approved by Parliament, rather than in draft, as will be the case for other member states.

Review of draft National Reform Programmes (NRPs)

There will be an exchange of views on member states’ draft national reform programmes (NRPs), which set out member states’ reform priorities and plans and were submitted to the Commission in November. Full NRPs are due in April. The Government believe that the focus of the NRPs should be on tackling bottlenecks to growth.

Communication from the Commission: towards a Single Market Act

There will be an exchange of views on the Single Market Act, which was published on 27 October 2010, and is out for consultation until 28 February 2011. The Government support the single market and believe that future reforms should be strongly focused on measures which encourage growth.