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Jean-Claude Juncker, the current President of the "Economic and Financial Affairs" Council, will preside over the first meeting of this Council group under the Luxembourg Presidency on 18 January 2005 in Brussels.
The day before, Mr Juncker, as President of the Eurogroup, will preside over the meeting of the finance Ministers of the Eurozone Member States.
The Eurogroup will discuss the priorities of the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union and then undertake the traditional analysis of the European and international economic situation. The Ministers will also exchange views on the guidelines to be established for the adaptation of the Stability and Growth Pact and for other current updated stability programmes.
In addition, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council will debate the economic and financial programme of the Luxembourg Presidency before addressing the financial consequences of the tidal wave in South Asia.
Within the framework of the Stability and Growth Pact, the Council will then take a decision on excessive deficit procedures against Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Greece and Hungary.
The Economic and Finance Ministers will then examine the stability programmes of Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Austria as well as the convergence programmes of the Czech Republic and Sweden.
The Council will also continue the discussion on reviewing the Stability and Growth Pact that started at the session of 16 November 2004. It is expected to invite the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC) to continue its work in order to reach an agreement during the sessions of Council of 8 March and European Council of 22 and 23 March 2005, and will establish guidelines to that end.
Finally, the Council will examine the annual report of the of the Economic Policy Committee (EPC) on structural reforms, and is expected to adopt conclusions with a view to preparing the working sessions of the European Council on economic issues at its meeting of 22 and 23 March of this year.
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