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Economic and Financial Committee

The preparatory work of the Economic and Financial Committee for the Council of the European Union includes the economic and financial situation, the euro exchange rate and relations with third countries and international institutions. This advisory committee also provides the framework for preparing and pursuing the dialogue between the Council and the European Central Bank.

ACTS

Council Decision 98/743/EC of 21 December 1998 on the detailed provisions concerning the composition of the Economic and Financial Committee.
Council Decision 1999/8/EC of 31 December 1998 adopting the Statutes of the Economic and Financial [See amending acts].

SUMMARY

The Maastricht Treaty provides for an economic and financial committee to be set up at the start of the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), which began on 1 January 1999.

Composition and tasks of the Economic and Financial Committee

The Council is to adopt detailed provisions concerning the composition of the Committee, bearing in mind that the Member States, the Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB), are each to appoint two members of the Committee. They may also appoint two alternate members.

Under Article 114 (2) and (4) of the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC Treaty), the Committee's tasks are:

  • to keep under review the economic and financial situation of the Member States and the Community and to report regularly to the Council and the Commission on this subject, in particular on financial relations with third countries and international institutions;
  • to contribute to the preparation of the work of the Council, particularly as regards recommendations required as part of multilateral surveillance (Article 99) and decisions required as part of the excessive deficit procedure (Article 101).

The Committee may also prepare the Council's reviews of the exchange rate of the euro (Article 207). It may be consulted in the procedure leading to decisions relating to the exchange-rate mechanism of the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union (ERM II), and may provide the framework for the dialogue between the Council and the ECB at the level of senior officials from ministries, national central banks, the Commission and the ECB.

Given the importance of those tasks, it is essential that members of the Committee and alternate members be selected from among experts possessing outstanding competence in the economic and financial field. The two members appointed by each Member State must be selected from among senior officials from the administration (ministerial level) and the national central bank.

Adapting the Economic and Financial Committee in the light of EU enlargement

With a view to the enlargement of the EU on 1 May 2004, the statutes of the Economic and Financial Committee were amended in 2003. A new Article 4 was inserted, which provides for the Committee to meet in two different configurations:

  • either with the members selected from the administrations, the national central banks, the Commission and the ECB;
  • or with the members from administrations, the Commission and the ECB.

The Committee in its full composition will regularly review the list of the issues on which the national central bank members are expected to attend the meetings. This measure is necessary in order to ensure that the expertise and analytical insight of the national central banks are available to the Committee without its work being hampered by too many participants.

Taking decisions on a majority basis

If a vote is requested, decisions are to be adopted by a majority of the members but, in the case of questions on which the "Economic and Financial Affairs" Council (Ecofin Council) may subsequently take a decision, members from national central banks and the Commission will not participate in the vote. The Committee will also report on minority or dissenting views expressed in the course of the discussion. A member who is unable to attend a meeting of the Committee may delegate his/her right to vote to one of the alternates or another member.

The Committee has a President elected by a majority of its members. The two-year term of office is renewable. The President represents the Committee, including in its relations with the European Parliament. The President's voting right is delegated to his/her alternate and, if indisposed, the President is replaced by the Vice-President of the Committee.

Where alternates replace members, they have the right to vote. As a general rule, alternate members may attend committee meetings, but do not vote or participate in discussions. The Committee may decide to amend this.

The Committee is convened at the initiative of the President, or at the request of the Commission, the Council or four of its members.

Committee deliberations are confidential.

The Committee may entrust the study of specific questions to its alternate members, to subcommittees or to working parties. It is also assisted by a secretariat.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force and expiry dateDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 98/743/EC1.1.1999-OJ L 358, 31.12.1998
Decision 1999/8/EC1.1.1999-OJ L 5, 9.1.1999

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 2003/476/EC01.07.2003-OJ L 158, 27.6.2003

Last updated: 26.02.2007

See also

For more information, please see the Internet site of the Economic and Financial Committee:

Working party on EU government bills and bonds (EN).

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