Prague, April 30th, 2009
On Tuesday 5 May, Ministers of Finance and Economy from the European Union’s Member States will meet in Brussels.
The ECOFIN meeting will be chaired by Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek.
The ministers will start with an exchange of views on the economic and financial situation, based in part on the spring forecast issued by the Commission the day before the meeting. The ECOFIN Council will evaluate the results of the Spring International Monetary Fund Meeting, held on 25–26 April in Washington, as well as the summit of G20 Finance Ministers which took place on the verges of the IMF meeting.
It is expected that, in response to a decision of the Spring European Council, the ministers will approve a proposal for a regulation doubling the ceiling of the instrument used by the EU to grant medium-term financial assistance to the balances of payments of Member States outside the euro area from EUR 25 billion to EUR 50 billion.
An important theme of this meeting will be the long-term sustainability and quality of public finances. The Council will discuss findings regarding long-term sustainability based on a report on the impacts that population ageing will have on public finances. The report includes a projection of public spending on pension and healthcare systems, as well as spending on education and unemployment benefits for the years 2008–2060. The report should, inter alia, form the basis for the setting of new medium-term budgetary objectives. In its conclusions, the Council will set out further tasks in the field of quality of public finances.
The Commission will report on the dialogue held on macroeconomic and financial issues with the EU’s key partners.
In a public debate, the Presidency will inform the other Member States of progress in the negotiation of important legislative acts relating to financial services. During April, the Czech Presidency managed to negotiate a compromise with the European Parliament on the wording of the Regulation on Credit Rating Agencies, the Directive on Solvency Requirements for Insurance and Reinsurance Undertakings (Solvency II), the Directive on Electronic Money Institutions and the Regulation on Cross-Border Payments in euros. The European Parliament adopted the compromise proposals at its April plenary session.
In the context of tax, the ECOFIN Council will discuss an amendment to the Directives on Tobacco Excise Duties. The proposal addresses minimum rates of excise duty on these products and updates the existing legislative text as regards the definition of tobacco products which are subject to excise duty.
Following its communication of 28 April, the European Commission will inform the ministers attending the meeting of the current situation regarding administrative cooperation in the field of taxation, in particular the fight against tax evasion and tax havens.
At the end of the meeting, the Commission will present the preliminary draft of the EU budget for 2010 (under the baton of the Swedish Presidency). In this respect, the ECOFIN Council will launch the budgetary procedure for the next year.
On the fringe of the meeting, the ECOFIN Council will engage in a dialogue with the EU candidate countries. The Finance Ministers of the Member States and the candidate countries meet regularly once a year to discuss the economic situation and policies of the countries seeking EU membership and to assess their progress in implementing their pre-accession economic programmes.
Spokeswoman of the Ministry of Finance
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