Prague, 6th February 2009
EU economics and finance ministers will meet for the second time this year on Tuesday 10 February for the meeting of the Ecofin Council. The meeting will be chaired by Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek.
Minister Kalousek and his colleagues will mainly focus on the issues related to the preparation of the Spring European Council. The Heads of State and Government of the EU Member States will sit down at the negotiation table on 19 and 20 March 2009.
At the Ecofin Council meeting, the Finance Ministers of the EU27 will exchange their views concerning the implementation of national measures in support of the economic activity adopted under the European Economic Recovery Plan. In this way, they will pave the way for the assessment of the stability and convergence programmes, planned for the March meeting. The ministers will also discuss the financial aspects of the proposals for increased support for energy projects, high-speed Internet and new challenges in agriculture granted from the EU budget, which the European Commission published on 28 January 2009.
Under the approved Recovery Plan, the December European Council set the task for the finance ministers to find possibilities for applying reduced VAT rates in certain sectors. In line with the schedule of the Ecofin Council agenda presented at the January meeting, the ministers will discuss in which sectors the reduced VAT rates might be introduced. An important factor in selecting these sectors will be the emphasis on growth and jobs support. At the same time, the ministers will set the direction for further activities in this area.
The main point on the agenda of the Ecofin Council for the Spring European Council will be the Key Issues Paper on Economic and Financial Affairs for 2009. At the ensuing meeting the ministers will discuss its structure and main issues. The text itself will be discussed and ratified one month later, i.e. at the Ecofin Council meeting in March.
In relation to the report of the Commission, the Council should accept the conclusions on the review of the single EU market.
The approval of the recommendation of the Council on the 2007 EU budget discharge for the European Commission is an established topic of the February meeting of the Ecofin Council. The recommendation is approved by the Council on the basis of a report from the European Court of Auditors. The ministers were already acquainted with this report at their meeting in December.
Based on the Progress Report of the European Commission, the ministers will accept the conclusions of the Council on the SEPA project (Single Euro Payments Area).
During a working breakfast the ministers will have an informal discussion of the economic and financial situation. Over a working lunch they will exchange views on the direction of the Lisbon Strategy after 2010 with emphasis on economic aspects.
Spokeswoman of the Ministry of Finance
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