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Preparation of Eurogroup and Informal Economic and Finance Ministers Council, Vienna 7 and 8 April

European Commission - MEMO/06/157   06/04/2006

Other available languages: none

MEMO/06/157

Brussels, 6 April 2006

Preparation of Eurogroup and Informal Economic and Finance Ministers Council[1], Vienna 7 and 8 April

EUROGROUP

Eurogroup ministers will meet at 10:30 hrs on Thursday 7 April. Joaquín Almunia, Commissioner responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs will attend as will European Central Bank Governor Jean-Claude Trichet. A press conference is scheduled to take place after the meeting, i.e. around 12.15 hrs.

Eurogroup ministers will discuss the economic situation and developments since their last meeting in March, focusing in particular on global imbalances and exchange rates.

The purpose of the discussion is also to identify the key messages to be conveyed on behalf of the group to the upcoming meeting of the G7 in Washington on 21-22 April as well as other so called Washington spring meetings (IMF, World Bank).

Ministers will also have a first exchange of views since the creation of the euro zone in 1999 on its possible enlargement. On 2 March 2006, the Slovenian authorities requested the Commission and the ECB to prepare an ad-hoc convergence report for Slovenia. A similar request by the Lithuanian authorities was received on 16 March 2006. Both countries have been participating in the exchange rate mechanism (ERM II) since 28 June 2004. The Commission plans to adopt the reports on May 16.

ECOFIN COUNCIL

The Informal Council of Economics and Finance Ministers will start around 12:30 hrs with a working lunch on Friday 7 April (end scheduled around 17.00 hrs.) and will continue the day after, Saturday 8 April at 9.30 hrs. The European Commission will be represented by Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquín Almunia, , Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy and Taxation and Customs Union Commissioner Lazlo Kovacs. A press conference is expected to take place on Saturday 8 April, at the end of the meeting

Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (MA)

Ministers are expected to have an exchange of views over lunch on the best working methods towards creating a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB).

The 25 different methods to calculate the corporate tax base result in a lack of transparency as far as the tax burden is concerned, huge compliance costs, administrative burden and the lack of cross-border loss-relief, among other problems. The Commission on Wednesday adopted a report outlining the progress made by a Commission-led expert working group. This report is not going to be debated during the informal ECOFIN but is foreseen to be in the agenda of the June ECOFIN. (see IP/06/448).

Economic situation and budgetary developments (AT)

Immediately after lunch, EU ministers will hold a discussion on the economic situation and budgetary developments. Member States have this week notified to Eurostat their debt and deficit figures for 2005 as well as any revisions that might have occurred for the previous three years. While the overall figures will be known on 24 April, the recent announcements by several Member States point to an improvement of the budgetary situation as was already evident from the examination of the Stability and Convergence Programmes.

Financial market stability, supervisory convergence & stability and crisis management (OD)

"Ministers will discuss various issues related to financial markets stability. There will also be an exchange views on how to ensure adequate cooperation between supervisory authorities, central banks and finance ministries in the event of a financial crisis. In addition there will be a discussion about the recommendations of a report prepared by the Financial Services Committee, which proposes concrete ways and a timetable to strengthen supervisory cooperation and convergence in the EU. These include, in particular, delegation of tasks among supervisors, mediation mechanisms in case of disputes on day-to-day supervision issues as well as means to streamline reporting requirements across sectors. "

Preparation of the Spring meeting of the IMF/World Bank (AT)

Ministers are expected to agree an EU Presidency Statement for the meeting of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) of the IMF later this month.

Globalisation, structural change and social responsibility (AT)

Following up to the discussion that already took place during the British Presidency, ministers will look at measures needed to preserve and further strengthen Europe’s attractiveness as a business location. They will also discuss how the benefits and adjustments costs of globalisation can be more equally distributed among citizens. Finally, they will touch upon the issue of corporate social responsibility.

EU leaders agreed that the international division of labour is beneficial for our economies. But there is a complex policy challenge of fully reaping the benefits, smoothening the adjustment and assisting those who lose their job in the process. The policy responses are part of the revised Strategy for Growth and Jobs.

Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Finance Ministers meeting

The 7th meeting of ASEM finance ministers will start on Saturday 8 April at 15.30 hrs. and will continue on Sunday 9 April at 9.00 hrs. The European Commission will be represented by Commissioner Almunia. A press conference is planned for the end of the meeting, Sunday around 12:45-13:15

The two main topics on the agenda are “the global economic situation” and “Making globalisation a success for all”. The Commission will particularly inform ministers on the consequences of, as well as the EU response, to the current high oil prices. The session “Making globalisation a success for all” will provide an opportunity to change views on successful experiences to adapt to globalisation challenges.

The other subjects concern Bretton Woods governance issues i.e. the questions of the IMF quotas, and the fight against money laundering.

Background

The ASEM process is a forum for dialogue in the political, economic and cultural fields between Asia and Europe. It brings together the EU25, the European Commission and 13 Asian countries (Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam).

The first meeting was held in Bangkok in March 1996. ASEM Finance ministers meetings take place once a year alternating between Asia and Europe. The last one was in Tianjin, China. Besides ministerial meetings there is also a Summit-level meeting every two years. The next one will be in Finland in September 2006.


[1] The Informal Ecfin Council will be followed by a meeting of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). See above


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