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EU: Economic and Financial Affairs Council

Volume 703: debated on Tuesday 8 July 2008

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 8 July 2008. Items on the agenda are as follows:

Presidency work programme

The French presidency will present the ECOFIN work programme for the next six months.

Implementation of the stability and growth pact

The council will be asked to adopt opinions on the updated stability programme for Belgium and the updated convergence programme for Poland, as well as a decision putting an end to the excessive deficit procedure for Poland. In addition, the council will be asked to agree to a decision and recommendations under Article 104(7) of the EC treaty with regard to the UK.

Adoption of the euro by Slovakia

The council will adopt legislative acts required for the adoption of the euro by Slovakia. The adoption will finalise the procedure foreseen by Article 122 of the treaty establishing the European Community. The council (meeting at the level of heads of state or government in the margins of the June European Council) gave its guidance on this issue on 19 June. Ministers will first vote on the legislative acts and, if successful, will decide on the exchange rate as recommended by the Commission. The UK congratulates Slovakia on the substantial reforms that it has made in order to meet the Maastricht criteria.

Oil price trends

Following the June European Council and in advance of the report for the October European Council, Ministers will hold an exchange of views on the situation in the oil and fuel markets. This will also cover the role of ECOFIN in preparing the October and December European Councils. The UK supports the work under way to better understand what is driving the development of oil prices.

Governance of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB)

The IASB launched a public consultation on the issue of its own governance in May. The council will provide the European perspective and will prepare a European contribution to the public consultation on IASB. The UK supports the efforts to improve internal processes and governance within the IASB, principally through improving the oversight arrangements for the International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation (IASCF).

Financial markets: situation and implementation of the council road map

The Commission will present the state of play on the council road map agreed in the October 2007 ECOFIN council conclusions. This will cover the items for which the deadline was set at mid-2008. These items include credit rating agencies and the transparency of markets on the level of their losses and risks. Conclusions have been agreed in which member states look forward to further work on transparency and on credit rating agencies in the autumn.