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Written Statements

Volume 629: debated on Tuesday 10 October 2017

Written Statements

Tuesday 10 October 2017


Double Taxation Convention: UK and Belarus

A Double Taxation Convention with Belarus was signed on 26 September 2017. The text of the convention has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and has been made available on HM Revenue and Customs’ pages of the website. The text will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.


ECOFIN and Informal ECOFIN

A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) will be held in Luxembourg on 10 October. EU Finance Ministers will discuss the following items:

Early morning session

The Eurogroup President will brief Ministers on the outcomes of the 9 October meeting of the Eurogroup, and Ministers will discuss the current economic situation. Ministers will also discuss the European Commission’s use of discretion in assessing member states’ compliance with the preventive arm of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP).

Current financial service legislative proposals

The Council presidency will provide an update on current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

Definitive VAT system

The Commission will present their proposals for a definitive VAT system and the creation of a ‘single EU VAT area’.

European semester 2017

The Council will exchange views on a report evaluating the 2017 European semester process and reflect on lessons learnt.

Preparation of the G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors and of the IMF annual meetings between 12 and 15 October in Washington

Minsters will agree the EU’s G20 terms of reference and International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) statement, ahead of the annual meetings in Washington.

Climate finance for COP23

The Council will agree Council conclusions on climate finance in preparation for the COP23 UN climate change conference in November.

Digital taxation

The Commission will present its communication of 21 September on ‘a fair and efficient tax system in the EU for the digital single market’. As well as input from the presidency, the Commission will also provide a follow-up to the Tallinn digital summit that was held on 29 September.

Implementation of financial services legislation

Ministers will receive an update from the Commission on implementation of existing financial services legislation.

An informal meeting of The Economic and Financial Affairs Council was held in Tallinn on 15-16 September 2017. The UK was represented by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Philip Hammond). EU Finance Ministers discussed the following items:

Working lunch—deepening the economic and monetary union (EMU) and maximising the effectiveness of EU finances

Based on the European Commission reflection papers, Ministers discussed the interlinkages between future development of the economic and monetary union and the framework on EU finances.

Working session I

Ministers were joined by Central Bank Governors for the first Working Session. Two items were discussed.

(a) Deepening of the EMU: interaction of rules and institutions

Ministers and Central Bank Governors discussed the implications of the deepening of the economic and monetary union for the EU’s economic and fiscal policy framework.

(b) Capital markets union: Technological Innovation and Financial Regulation (FinTech)

Ministers and Central Bank Governors then focused on the implications of intensified technological innovations to the functioning, development and stability of banking and capital markets. The discussion drew on analysis by Bruegel and included participation from the European Parliament, the European Central Bank, the Commission, and the European Securities and Markets Authority.

Working session II

a) Corporate taxation challenges of the digital economy

Following a presentation by the Estonian presidency, Ministers discussed how to modernise the corporate income tax rules in a way that would take in to account the new business modes using digital technology. Commissioner Dombrovskis and José Ángel Gurria (Secretary-General of the OECD) also contributed to the discussion to set out their respective positions.

b) Cost efficiency and sustainability of customs IT systems

Ministers discussed the governance reform of the customs union, particularly considering customs IT infrastructure that would assure the sustainable and cost efficient electronic systems worthy of a digital single market. This builds on previous discussions regarding the development of an EU customs IT strategy and looks to proposals for a centrally developed customs IT system to be rolled out across Europe from 2025.



Royal Air Force Battle Honours

My right hon. Friend The Minister in the House of Lords (The right hon. The Earl Howe PC) has made the following written statement:

I am today announcing that Her Majesty The Queen has been graciously pleased to approve the award of Battle Honours to squadrons of Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force, for their participation in Operation TELIC during the period 1 May 2003 to 22 May 2011, Operation DEFERENCE during the period 22 February 2011 to 27 February 2011 and Operation ELLAMY during the period 19 March 2011 to 31 October 2011.

Battle Honours may be “awarded to commemorate any notable battle, action or engagement in which aircrew or Royal Air Force Regiment personnel played a memorable part”. There are two levels of Battle Honour within the Royal Air Force. The first is “mere entitlement, signifying only that a squadron took part in the campaign”. The second (higher) level confers the right to emblazon the Battle Honour on the Standard itself. This ultimate accolade is reserved for those squadrons which are involved in direct confrontation with an enemy, and demonstrate gallantry and spirit under fire.

Battle Honours were approved for 27 operational flying squadrons and eight Royal Air Force Regiment squadrons for their participation on Operation TELIC. Five operational flying squadrons and three Royal Air Force Regiment squadrons were awarded the highest honour of Battle Honour with Emblazonment.

For their part in Operation DEFERENCE and Operation ELLAMY, Battle Honours were approved for 13 operational flying squadrons with three being awarded the highest honour of Battle Honour with Emblazonment.

With the Right to Emblazon IRAQ 2003-2011 on Squadron Standards

No. 7 Squadron RAF

No. XXIV Squadron RAF

No. 33 Squadron RAF

No. 47 Squadron RAF

No. 230 Squadron RAF

No. 1 Squadron RAF Regiment

No. 26 Squadron RAF Regiment

No. 34 Squadron RAF Regiment

Without the Right to Emblazon IRAQ 2003-2011 on Squadron Standards

No. II (Army Co-operation) Squadron RAF

No. IX (Bomber) Squadron RAF

No. 10 Squadron RAF

No. 12 (Bomber) Squadron RAF

No. XIII Squadron RAF

No. 14 Squadron RAF

No. 18 Squadron RAF

No. 27 Squadron RAF

No. XXVIII (Army Co-operation) Squadron RAF

No. 30 Squadron RAF

No. 31 Squadron RAF

No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron RAF

No. 39 (Photographic Reconnaissance) Squadron RAF

No. 51 Squadron RAF

No. LXX Squadron RAF

No. 99 Squadron RAF

No. 101 Squadron RAF

No. 120 Squadron RAF

No. 201 Squadron RAF

No. 206 Squadron RAF

No. 216 Squadron RAF

No. 617 Squadron RAF

No. II Squadron RAF Regiment

No. 3 Squadron RAF Regiment

No. 15 Squadron RAF Regiment

No. 51 Squadron RAF Regiment

No. 63 Squadron RAF Regiment

With the Right to Emblazon LIBYA 2011 on Squadron Standards

No. II (Army Co-operation) Squadron

RAF No. IX (Bomber) Squadron RAF

No. 47 Squadron RAF

Without the Right to Emblazon ‘LIBYA 2011 on Squadron Standards

No. 3 (Fighter) Squadron RAF

No. V (Army Co-operation) Squadron RAF

No. VIII Squadron RAF

No. XI Squadron RAF

No. 30 Squadron RAF

No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron RAF

No. 51 Squadron RAF

No. 99 Squadron RAF

No. 101 Squadron RAF

No. 216 Squadron RAF


Exiting the European Union

General Affairs Council

My right hon. Friend Baroness Anelay of St Johns DBE, Minister of State for Exiting the European Union, has made the following statement:

I represented the UK at the General Affairs Council (GAC) meeting in Brussels on Monday 25 September. This was the first meeting of the GAC under the Estonian presidency.

The main items on the agenda were: presentation of the priorities of the Estonian presidency; preparation of the European Council on 19-20 October 2017; June European Council follow-up; and legislative programming for 2018, letter of intent.

A provisional report of the meeting and the conclusions adopted can be found on the Council of the European Union’s website at:

Presentation of the priorities of the Estonian presidency

The presidency made a brief presentation of its priorities, namely: an open and innovative European economy; a safe and secure Europe; a digital Europe and the free movement of data; and an inclusive and sustainable Europe.

Preparation of the European Council on 19-20 October 2017

The presidency presented the draft October European Council agenda, which is due to cover migration, digital Europe, defence and external relations.

On the migration agenda item, GAC Ministers discussed external migration and returns, as well as reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).

As part of the digital Europe item, delegates focused on implementation of the Digital Single Market (DSM), cyber security and digital taxation.

Regarding defence, the Council considered increasing EU autonomy, the admissions criteria for the Permanent Structured co-operation (PESCO) and EU-NATO co-operation. There were also discussions about the work on the industrial development programme and the Athena mechanism (which handles the financing of common costs relating to EU military operations under the EU’s common security) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

Under external relations, Ministers discussed EU-Turkey relations and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Some member states also asked that trade should be added to the agenda, as well as the follow-up to the June European Council.

I intervened to highlight the UK’s on-going commitment to European security and reiterated our preference for counter-terrorism and internal security to be discussed at the European Council. I also welcomed the focus on the digital agenda, as well as the need to maintain momentum following the Tallinn summit on 29 September. Regarding EU-Turkey relations, I emphasised the importance of the accession process as an important tool for co-operation with Turkey. I also agreed that a unified EU position should be sought on the DPRK.

Legislative programming for 2018, letter of intent

GAC Ministers discussed the Commission’s priorities for the Commission Work Programme (CWP) 2018. Vice President Timmermans asked for a final mandate on the CWP and stressed the need to focus on delivery within the limited time available. I intervened to welcome the inclusion of certain aspects in the CWP, including the Single Market and DSM. I also spoke to advocate for open and free trade.


Vice President Timmermans updated Ministers on the state of play of its dialogue with Poland on the Rule of Law. I emphasised the importance the UK placed on the Rule of Law and urged both the Commission and Poland to avoid escalation and return to substantive, sustained and constructive dialogue.



Justice and Home Affairs Pre-Council Statement

The EU Justice and Home Affairs Council of Ministers will meet on 12 and 13 October in Luxembourg. The Minister of State for Immigration, and I will represent the UK for Justice day. The Home Secretary will represent the UK for Interior day.

Justice day (12 October) will begin with the adoption of the Council Regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). No discussion is expected. We have always been clear that the UK will never participate in an EPPO.

This will be followed by a policy debate on the proposed Regulation on mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders. The focus of the discussion is expected to be on whether the scope of the legislation applies to such orders issued within the framework of criminal proceedings or criminal matters. Such a debate would have no specific impact on the UK’s position and so we would not need to intervene. The UK is supportive of improved co-operation in this area and has opted into this measure.

Ministers will also discuss the proposed Regulation on the exchange of information on third country nationals and as regards the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS). The UK supports the inclusion of third country nationals on ECRIS, including fingerprint exchange. The focus of this debate will be on the threshold for the seriousness of the crime above which fingerprints should be taken, and whether dual nationals should be included in the centralised identification system (ECRIS-TCN). The Immigration Minister will support a low fingerprint threshold, as well as the inclusion of dual nationals in ECRIS-TCN.

The next item will be an exchange of views with the Director of the Fundamental Rights Agency, which will cover the agency’s 2017 fundamental rights report and a range of fundamental rights issues. The Council will then adopt the draft Council conclusions following the EU’s annual report on the application of the EU charter on fundamental rights in 2016. The UK is content to support the Council conclusions.

There will be a working lunch discussion on the implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This discussion will be an exchange of views on readiness for implementation. The GDPR will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018.

In the afternoon, Interior and Justice Ministers will meet for a joint session. This will include a Commission update and discussion on criminal justice in cyberspace where the presidency will update member states on the progress of ongoing discussions around e-evidence and encryption. The UK is supportive of work in these areas and has been engaged in technical discussions. The UK is keen to ensure that any proposals do not jeopardise the existing good cooperation with service providers.

Finally on Justice day, as part of the presidency’s mid-term review of the JHA strategic guidelines, Ministers will be asked for their views on where progress has been made and where there are outstanding policy priorities. The Immigration Minister will highlight the UK’s ongoing policy priorities, including data retention for law enforcement purposes and improving the interoperability of EU systems.

Interior day (13 October) will begin with a discussion on reform of the Schengen Borders Code to change the rules applicable to the temporary reintroduction of border controls at internal borders. As the UK is not a part of the Schengen internal border free zone, the Home Secretary will not intervene on this item.

Interior day will continue with a discussion on counter-terrorism. There will be a presentation by the Counter Terrorism Group (CTG). The CTG will report their assessment of the threat, update on recent capability developments and feedback on work to improve co-operation with the law enforcement community. The Home Secretary is likely to intervene in support of recent of the recent developments of the group.

The Council will conclude with a working lunch at which Ministers will exchange views on the state of play of the migration crisis. The presidency will focus the debate on the resettlement of refugees. In line with the request of the European Commission, the UK will submit a revised resettlement pledge by 31 October 2017.