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Volume 716: debated on Tuesday 19 January 2010


My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Alistair Darling) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Economic and Financial Affairs Council will be held in Brussels on 19 January 2010. The following items are on the agenda.

Legislative deliberations


Savings tax directive—ECOFIN will discuss proposed amendments to the savings tax directive to tackle cross-border tax evasion on savings income, by automatic exchange of information. This and the following items have strong links to the international transparency agenda, including work by the G20 on tax havens and non-co-operative jurisdictions under the UK’s G20 presidency in 2009.

Recovery directive—the recovery directive is aimed at improving existing procedures for recovery of direct and indirect tax debts, including on income tax, VAT, excise duties and EU agricultural levies. The Government support the extended provisions, which will reduce the opportunities for businesses and individuals to escape paying tax which is legally due in one member state, by moving to another member state.

Administrative co-operation directive—ECOFIN will seek a general approach on this directive, which will improve exchange of information and bring the EU into line with OECD standards by removing the right to refuse information on grounds of bank secrecy. The Government support these goals.

Non-legislative activities


Anti-fraud agreements with third countries

ECOFIN will discuss the draft anti-fraud agreement with Liechtenstein, and a negotiating mandate for anti-fraud agreements with Andorra, Monaco, Switzerland and San Marino. The proposed agreements provide for exchange of information to international standards in administrative and criminal matters in the tax field and related areas.

Presentation of the presidency work programme

The Spanish presidency will present its ECOFIN work programme for the first half of 2010.

Statistics: Eurostat report

ECOFIN will agree a set of conclusions on a report by the Commission’s statistics agency into the quality of official statistics in Greece. This follows a request from the November 2009 ECOFIN for the Commission to examine the issues regarding the Greek Government deficit and debt statistics. The Government support the taking of prompt action to rectify the situation in Greece.