Tuesday 21 February 2017
A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) will be held in Brussels on 21 February 2017. EU Finance Ministers are due to discuss the following items:
Early morning session
Ministers will be briefed on the outcomes of the 20 February meeting of the Eurogroup, and the European Commission will present an update on the current economic situation following the publication of the Commission’s winter forecasts on 13 February. Ministers are also expected to discuss points of clarification in relation to the intergovernmental agreement on the single resolution fund.
Anti-tax avoidance directive
Ministers will be invited to reach a general approach to the second anti-tax avoidance directive (ATAD2).
Current financial services legislative proposals
The Council presidency will provide an update on current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.
Criteria and process leading to the establishment of the EU list of non-co-operative jurisdictions for tax purposes
Council will take stock of further work that has taken place following the Council conclusions agreed at ECOFIN on 8 November 2016.
Preparation of the G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and central bank governors on 17 and 18 March 2017 in Baden-Baden
Ministers will be asked to mandate the Economic and Finance Committee (EFC) to finalise the EU terms of reference for the next G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and central bank governors.
Discharge to be given to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget for 2015
On the basis of a report from the European Court of Auditors, Ministers will be asked to approve a recommendation—to be forwarded to the European Parliament.
Budget guidelines for 2018
Ministers will be asked to adopt Council conclusions on the guidelines for the 2018 budget, which will serve as a point of reference in the forthcoming budgetary cycle.
European defence fund
The Commission will provide information on its European defence action plan, focusing in particular on the proposed launch of a European defence fund.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Agriculture and Fisheries Council
I represented the United Kingdom at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 23 January in Brussels.
Council opened with a presentation by the Maltese presidency on its work programme for the next six months.
This was followed by an update from Commissioner Hogan on the progress of EU trade talks, including a discussion of the findings of the Commission’s report on the cumulative economic impact of future trade agreements on EU agriculture. The UK intervened to point out the benefits of an ambitious approach to future EU free trade agreements.
The Council then discussed the dairy market situation and the recent report on the EU milk package, along with ongoing outbreaks of avian influenza. Member states including the UK welcomed the fragile recovery of the dairy market. Commissioner Hogan stressed that the release of supplies of skimmed milk powder held in public intervention would be handled carefully to avoid any negative impact on the market. On avian influenza, the UK joined with several other member states to raise concerns about the impact of necessary disease control measures on free-range egg producers. Commissioner Hogan agreed that the Commission would examine policy options and report back quickly.
A number of other items were discussed under “any other business”:
The Slovakian delegation provided information on the conclusions of the 40th conference of directors of paying agencies;
The Commission responded to a request for information regarding the scope of the Commission’s powers to adopt delegated acts for exceptions from the rules on protected designations of origin for wines.
Until exit negotiations are concluded, the UK remains a full member of the European Union and all the rights and obligations of EU membership remain in force. The outcome of these negotiations will determine what arrangements apply in relation to EU legislation in future once the UK has left the EU.