Below is the text of the statement made by Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the House of Commons on 23 May 2019.

A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Brussels on 17 May 2019. The UK was represented by Mark Bowman (Director General, International Finance, HM Treasury). The Council discussed the following:

Early morning session

The Eurogroup President briefed the Council on the outcomes of the 16 May meeting of the Eurogroup, and the European Commission provided an update on the current economic situation in the EU. Ministers then discussed the possibility of the European Investment Bank developing country strategies. Lastly, the Commission updated on the state of play on negotiations on the definitive system of value added tax.

Excise duties

The Council discussed the directive on general arrangements for excise duty (recast), the regulation on administrative co-operation of the content of electronic registers, and the directive on the structures of excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages.​

Current financial services legislative proposals

The Romanian presidency provided an update on current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

International meetings

The Council held an exchange of views on digital taxation in the international context, and the presidency and Commission updated the Council on the outcomes of the G20, IMF and World Bank spring meetings that took place in April. The Council then mandated the Economic and Financial Committee to approve the terms of reference for the upcoming G20 meeting in June. Lastly, the Finnish delegation debriefed the Council on the first meeting of the Finance Ministers coalition for climate action.

European semester

The Council adopted conclusions on the outcomes of the 2019 in-depth reviews of macroeconomic imbalances in member states as part of the macroeconomic imbalances procedure; and the implementation of 2018 country-specific recommendations.

Institutional cycle priorities

Under the non-legislative AOB, the presidency informed the Council on the follow-up discussions in regards to priorities for the next institutional cycle in the ECOFIN area.

Working lunch

Following on from the discussions at April informal ECOFIN in Bucharest, EU Finance Ministers held a working lunch to discuss the challenges of labour mobility and their potential solutions, followed by an exchange of views on the way forward in areas of the economic and monetary union, specifically in regards to the reform support programme.