The European Union’s Economy and Finance Ministers today took stock of developments with regard to the introduction of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) in a limited number of Member States via the process of enhanced cooperation. During the October 9 ECOFIN Council in Luxembourg, ministers also held an exchange of views on the way forward regarding the European Semester, the Capital Requirements Directive IV (CRD IV) package and EU participation in international fora.
The conclusion of June’s ECOFIN Council meeting was that there was no general consensus on the proposed Directive aiming at introducing an EU-wide financial transaction tax (FTT), and that other avenues should be explored. These include the enhanced cooperation procedure, which would allow a group of interested countries to proceed amongst themselves, making use of the EU institutions, by the end of 2012.
Financial Transaction Tax progress
During today’s meeting, Presidency took stock of the situation and invited the Member States wishing to participate in the enhanced cooperation to state their interest.
Minister Shiarly said: “Today we received confirmation that seven member states – Germany, France, Austria, Portugal, Belgium, Slovenia and Greece – have sent letters to the Commission. Some other countries expressed their interest today in participating in enhanced cooperation. These Member States include Spain, Estonia, Italy and Slovakia.”
Banking requirements – CRD IV
The Capital Requirements Directive IV package aims at strengthening the regulation of the banking sector by transposing into EU law the Basel III agreement approved by the G 20 in November 2010. It will form an essential element of the single rulebook and it is considered important to have it adopted before the single supervisory mechanism enters into force, expected by the European Commission to take place in early 2013.
In today’s meeting the Presidency informed ministers about the state of negotiations with the European Parliament on CRD IV.
“So far, the Cyprus Presidency has held eight political trilogues with the Parliament and many more technical trilogues, including over the summer. This file remains top priority for the Presidency and our objective is to reach political agreement by December”, Minister Shiarly said.
European Semester: The way forward
The EU’s Economy and Finance Ministers also held discussions today on how to improve the European Semester process, by which each year the economic and fiscal policies of Member States are monitored. The ECOFIN Council examined ways of tackling issues such as time constraints, strengthening the sense of ownership by Member States and ensuring that recommendations are concrete enough whilst allowing member states to make their own policy choices.
Lastly, ministers exchanged views on the preparation of forthcoming international meetings such as the G-20 Finance Ministers and Governors meeting on November 4-5 2012 and the upcoming International Monetary Fund (IMF) Annual meeting October12-14, 2012.
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