My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Alistair Darling) has made the following Written Statement.
The Economic and Financial Affairs Council will be held in Brussels on 22 January 2008. The items on the agenda are as follows:
Presidency Work Programme
Slovenia took up the presidency of the European Council on 1 January 2008 and will present its proposed work programme for the Economic and Financial Affairs Council. This discussion will be a televised public debate, in line with transparency arrangements agreed at the European Council in June 2006.
Introduction of the Euro in Cyprus and Malta
Ministers will exchange views on the introduction of the euro in Cyprus and Malta on 1 January 2008.
Preparation of the European Council (13-14 March 2008)
The next three-year cycle: strategic report, broad economic policy guidelines 2008-10, country-specific integrated recommendations, and the Community Lisbon programme.
Ministers will hold an orientation debate on a range of documents related to the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs, the first of which will be the Commission's recently published “strategic report” analysing the last three years of the strategy. The other documents focus on recommendations for the next three-year cycle, including proposals for broad economic policy guidelines, country specific recommendations and the Community Lisbon programme. This discussion will inform the further work of the Economic Policy Committee (EPC) and Economic and Finance Committee (EFC) on these documents. March ECOFIN will then prepare a report on these documents for the spring European Council.
Single Market Review
ECOFIN will agree conclusions on the Single Market Review, which will be transmitted to the European Council in March. The Single Market Review was published by the European Commission on 20 November, and is largely in line with UK thinking on the need for a market-based, flexible, and outward-facing single market policy.
Contribution to the Spring European Council conclusions: Key Issues Paper
Ministers will hold an orientation debate on the broad themes of a key issues paper on economic reform issues which will form ECOFIN's contribution to the spring European Council on these issues. This meeting will inform the drafting of the paper, which will continue through the Economic Policy Committee (EPC) and Economic and Finance Committee (EFC). Ministers will adopt a final version of this paper at the February ECOFIN.
Single Euro Payments Area
Ministers will be invited to agree a set of conclusions on the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), an initiative led by the EU banking industry to develop pan-European payment schemes.