My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ian Pearson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
On 21 November 2008, I represented the UK at the Budget Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).
Finance Ministers agreed to adopt preliminary draft amending budgets 10 (as amended by the Commission during the course of negotiations) and 11 to the 2008 EC budget. These amend the 2008 budget respectively to reflect latest implementation capacity, thus reducing the level of funding required from member states in 2008, and to mobilise the EU solidarity fund for Cyprus following the recent drought there.
Finance Ministers agreed to adopt amending letters 2 (as amended by the Commission to include budgetary aspects relating to the proposed food facility for developing countries), and 3 to the preliminary draft budget for 2009. These reflected the latest information on agricultural market prices and other developments, and a budgetary transfer to cover the costs of a new reflection group as called for by the October European Council.
During a conciliation meeting between the Council and the European Parliament, agreement was reached on the 2009 EC budget and on the financing for the proposed food facility. The agreement establishes total payment levels of €116.1 billion (0.89 per cent of EU GNI). The European Parliament is scheduled to vote on its own Second Reading on 18 December, after which the 2009 EC budget will be formally adopted.
Five joint statements relating to the budget were also agreed at budget ECOFIN. These concerned the financing of the food facility, the implementation of cohesion policy and EU agencies. The Government are supportive of these statements, which affirm the co-ordination and visibility of Community development assistance and call for sound financial management and budget discipline in the areas that they concern.