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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
20 March 2017
Volume 623

Written Statements

Monday 20 March 2017

Treasury

ECOFIN: 21 March 2017

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A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) will be held in Brussels on 21 March 2017. EU Finance Ministers will discuss the following items:

Early morning session

The Eurogroup president will brief Ministers on the outcomes of the 20 March meeting of the Eurogroup. Ministers will discuss the current economic situation. The European Commission will present its review of national provisions adopted in compliance with the treaty on stability, co-ordination and governance in the economic and monetary union (the fiscal compact) conducted in accordance with Article 8 of the fiscal compact, followed by an exchange of views by Ministers.

Reduced VAT rate for electronically supplied publications (e-publications)

Ministers will discuss political issues in relation to the proposal for a Council directive regarding rates of value added tax applied to books, newspapers and periodicals. The proposal would give member states the ability to apply a reduced or zero VAT rate to e-publications and physical publications.

General reverse charge mechanism

Ministers will discuss the political issues in relation to the general reverse charge mechanism (GRCM). This is a proposal for an amendment to Council directive 2006/112/ on the common system of value added tax to allow the temporary application of a GRCM to supplies of goods and services above a certain threshold, with the aim of combating VAT fraud.

Current financial service legislative proposals

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

European Semester 2017:

a) 2017 country reports and in-depth reviews

b) Implementation of country-specific recommendations (CSRs)

Following a presentation by the Commission, Ministers will discuss the country reports published by the Commission on 22 February, including the assessment of CSR implementation and, where relevant, the framework of the macroeconomic imbalance procedure.

Follow-up to the G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank governors on 17 to 18 March 2017 in Baden-Baden

The presidency and the Commission will inform Ministers on the outcomes of the G20 meeting.

Any other business

a) European defence fund

The Commission will inform Ministers about the Commission’s European defence action plan, focusing in particular on the launch of a European defence fund. This item was delayed from February ECOFIN.

b) Status of implementation of financial services legislation

The Commission will inform Ministers on the status of implementation of financial services legislation.

[HCWS546]

Wales

UK Regional Investment

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In March 2016, the Government committed to begin discussions on a city deal for the Swansea Bay city region. I can today inform the House that the Government have reached agreement with the Welsh Government and the four local authorities on a heads of terms city deal for the Swansea Bay city region which will create in excess of 9,000 jobs and bring almost £1.3 billion of investment to the region.

The heads of terms agreement paves the way for major infrastructure investment in the region, which seeks to support and further build on the area’s strengths including health, energy and manufacturing. The deal will help boost economic growth in the region by attracting new investors, giving local business the support they need to grow and increasing the available skills base.

The deal will deliver almost £1.3 billion of investment to the region. Central to this is £115.6 million from the UK Government and £125.4 million from the Welsh Government. Alongside local public sector funding this is projected to attract £637 million from the private sector. This funding package will be provided over a 15 year period, subject to the submission of detailed business cases.

The UK Government’s contribution to the fund will support investment in digital infrastructure and next generation technology, allowing the area to compete with some of the world’s best cities. It will also support a partnership with Tata Steel to establish an innovation and knowledge centre for steel which will focus on zero carbon steel making and the future sustainability of the industry.

[HCWS545]

Work and Pensions

Pension Schemes Bill

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Today I will deposit in the House Libraries a memorandum on the application of Standing Order No.83L of the House of Commons Relating to Public Business to the Pension Schemes Bill, as amended. This memorandum sets out that there has been no material amendment at Commons Committee, i.e. the outcomes of the analysis remain precisely the same as on introduction.

[HCWS544]