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Mr Philip Hammond - Foreign and Commonwealth Office

At their meeting of 1-2 December in Brussels, Foreign Ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) took an important political decision on enlargement, and asked the Secretary General to invite Montenegro to begin the accession process, with a view to Montenegro becoming the twenty-ninth member of the Alliance upon signing and ratification of its Protocols of Accession.

In taking this decision, NATO Foreign Ministers recognised the progress that Montenegro has made on internal reform, particularly in relation to intelligence and security services, rule of law, fighting corruption and organised crime, and in building public support in Montenegro for its prospective NATO membership.

I congratulate Montenegro on this achievement. The United Kingdom has long supported Montenegros partnership with NATO and its membership ambitions, and we and Allies will continue to work with the Montenegrin government through the accession process to ensure that the reforms they have undertaken so far are continued and built upon as Montenegro prepares for membership. NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg will now officially invite Montenegro to open accession talks in the coming weeks. We will bring the Protocols of Accession before Parliament as part of the formal ratification process once NATO and Montenegro have agreed them.

Montenegros invitation is a welcome reaffirmation of NATOs Open Door policy, enshrined in Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, by which NATO may invite any European state in a position to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to the Treaty. The United Kingdom stands strongly behind this principle. Alongside Montenegro, NATO Foreign Ministers also reiterated their support for the membership ambitions of Georgia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In a statement issued at the end of the meeting, NATO Foreign Ministers reconfirmed their commitment to working closely with Georgia, including implementing in full the Substantial Package of support agreed at last years Wales Summit. The statement also noted that progress had been made in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2015, and encouraged a redoubling of efforts to allow the conditions to be met to activate a Membership Action Plan at the soonest possible opportunity. On Macedonia, NATO Foreign Ministers confirmed that they stood by the conditional invitation that Macedonia received in 2008, but expressed concerns at the political developments that have taken place during 2015, encouraging Macedonia to intensify efforts at political compromise and reform and to fully implement the July agreement brokered by the European Commission.

The statement by NATO Foreign Ministers on Open Door is available on the NATO website, at http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_125591.htm?selectedLocale=en.


Mr George Osborne - HM Treasury

A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council will be held in Brussels on 8 December 2015. Ministers are due to discuss the following items:

Financial Transaction Tax

An update on the progress of implementing a Financial Transaction Tax in participating Member States will be provided. Britain is not taking part in the Financial Transaction Tax.

Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB)

Following a presentation by the Presidency on the state of play regarding the CCCTB proposal, the Council will have an exchange of views.

Completing the Banking Union

A presentation will be given by the Commission on the proposal for a European Deposit Insurance Scheme and the Commission communication Towards Completion of the Banking Union. This will be followed by an exchange of views.

Current Legislative Proposals

The Presidency will update the Council on the state of play of financial services dossiers.

Implementation of the Banking Union

The Commission will give an update on several dossiers linked to the Banking Union: the Single Resolution Fund, the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive and the Deposit Guarantee Scheme Directive.

Fight against the financing of terrorism

After taking note of a Commission presentation on the next steps to reinforce the European framework in the fight against terrorism, the Council will hold an exchange of views.

Future of the Code of Conduct (Business Taxation)

The Council will be invited to adopt conclusions on the future of the Code of Conduct group on business taxation.

Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS)

The Council will be invited to adopt conclusions on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) in the EU context.

European Semester

Following the publication of the Annual Growth Survey, the Commission Alert Mechanism Report and the draft Council Recommendation on the euro area, a presentation will be given by the Commission followed by an exchange of views.

Common position on flexibility in the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP)

A debrief will be provided by the Chair of the Economic and Financial Committee on the common position agreed with regards to flexibility in the SGP for short-term economic conditions, structural reforms and public investments.

Statistics: EU Statistics and implementation of the European Statistics Code of Practice

Council conclusions will be adopted on the annual statistical package followed by a Commission presentation on the implementation of the European Statistics code of best practices.

European Court of Auditors annual report on the implantation of the budget for the EU for the financial year 2014

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) will present their report on the implementation of the 2014 budget followed by an exchange of views by the Council.

 


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