§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Sir Geoffrey Howe)
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mrs. Chalker), and I attended the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 19 and 20 October. The main points on the agenda were the future financing of the Community; a proposed regulation laying down maximum permitted levels of radoactivity in foodstuffs after a nuclear accident; a draft Commission paper for the GATT negotiations on agriculture; and a proposal for a trade and economic co-operation agreement with the Gulf Co-operation Council. The protocol to the association agreement between the European Communities and Cyprus, providing for transition to customs union, was signed on 19 October.
704 A full statement covering the September and October Foreign Affairs Councils will be circulated in the Official Report.
§ Mr. Hardy
May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether any aspects of European-South African relationships were considered at the meeting, and whether the other member states hold the continuing policies and practices of South Africa in the same regard as seems to be revealed by the recent extreme and rather provocative utterances of the Prime Minister?
§ Sir Geoffrey Howe
There was no discussion of South Africa in the Council meeting, but everyone, as far as I know, in this House and throughout the Commonwealth and the Community is of exactly the same view: that apartheid is an intolerable system and that it must go as soon as possible.
§ Sir Anthony Meyer
Is it not clear from every successive crisis, whether in the Persian Gulf or the world's stock markets, that the need for improved action and coordination within the European Community is now very urgent indeed?
§ Sir Geoffrey Howe
Yes, I think that the whole development of world events underlines the importance of increasingly effective European unity on political as well as economic matters.
Mr. John David Taylor
During the meeting in Luxembourg, did the Foreign Secretary have a separate meeting with the Irish Foreign Minister, and did the latter raise any doubts about the implementation of the promised extradition treaty by 1 December? If so, what excuses were given?
§ Sir Geoffrey Howe
I had no separate meeting with the Irish Foreign Minister during the Luxembourg meeting, but it is, of course, well known that we attach importance to the implementation of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
§ Mr. Neil Hamilton
Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that there can be no question of giving more money to the European Community while its budget remains out of control, and that if the budget is brought under control the Community will have no need for more money?
§ Sir Geoffrey Howe
My hon. Friend will recall that express provision was made at Fontainebleau for the possibility of an increase in own resources, and that is one of the matters under consideration in the context of the immensely important aim, to which my hon. Friend has rightly drawn attention, of achieving effective, binding budgetary discipline, which is associated with the need to achieve some extremely difficult conclusions on the control of agricultural policy.
§ Mr. Anderson
Will the Foreign Secretary seek to defend before his colleagues in Europe the Prime Minister's protection in Vancouver of the apartheid regime, to the point where it became clear that, by her reckless insensitivity, she had destroyed at a stroke much of the patient bridge-building in South African relations that the Foreign Secretary and his colleagues at the Foreign Office have been attempting?
Will the right hon. and learned Member confirm that, contrary to what the Prime Minister said in Vancouver, when he and his colleague met President Tambo they did so in both their EEC and their national capacities?
§ Sir Geoffrey Howe
The Government's position in relation to South Africa and the need for the removal of apartheid as quickly as possible is not in doubt and I have no need to defend that in the European Community or anywhere else.
Equally, I have made it plain that the meeting that I had with Mr. Tambo and the meeting that he had with my right hon. Friend are part of a pattern of contacts with the ANC which must be judged from time to time. The important thing is that the ANC should understand that if we are to be able to secure the implementation of the European Community demand for the unbanning of the ANC and the liberation of Nelson Mandela and others it is important that that should take place within the context of a suspension of violence, as set out in the EC demand.
Following is the statement:I attended the Foreign Affairs Councils which took place in Brussels on 14–15 September and in Luxembourg on 19–20 October, accompanied by the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mrs. Chalker).on both occasions the Council continued its negotiations on the reform of Community spending. There is now widespread agreement on the need to strengthen control of agricultural expenditure through the introduction of budget stabilisers. I made it clear that the principle of stabilisers would have to be translated into specific quantified decisions in order to ensure binding control. That is a condition for success in the overall negotiation. The Council will hold a further discussion at its next meeting on 23–24 November.The Council also discussed the proposal for a Council regulation laying down maximum permitted levels of radioactivity in foodstuffs after a nuclear accident, and decided that further work should be carried out by officials with a view to reaching agreement before 31 October. It agreed the text of a Council decision on a Community system for rapid notification in the case of a nuclear accident agreement was also reached in principle that the Community should accede to the Vienna convention on early notification in the case of a nuclear accident.The Council discussed trade relations between the Community and a number of third countries. In September it gave strong support to the Commission's determination to insist, in discussions with the Government of South Korea, on the removal of discrimination against EC companies in South Korean intellectual property practices. It also reaffirmed its continuing concern on possible protectionist legislation in the United States.In October the Council agreed that the Commission should continue its efforts to find a solution to the dispute with the US over the EC's ban on hormone-treated meat. It also discussed GATT article XXIV. 6 negotiations with Japan, Canada and Argentina; it agreed that the Commission should continue negotiations with Japan; endorsed the Commission's intention to seek binding GATT arbitration in the dispute with Canadians; and approved the agreement reached in the negotiations with Argentina.The Council continued its discussion of the Community's contribution to the multilateral trade negotiations in the Uruguay round. In September it discussed a draft mandate for the negotiations on tropical products, which has since been approved and tabled in the GATT. In October the Council agreed to the Commission presenting in the GATT on 26 October a paper for its negotiations on agriculture.The Council reached agreement on three sectors in the 1988 generalised scheme of preferences, and instructed officials to continue their discussions on the fourth, textiles. It also discussed the Commission's proposal for a trade and economic co-operation agreement between the Community and the Gulf Co-operation Council.The Council discussed the Community's position on export credits for ships in preparation for an OECD meeting on shipbuilding later this month.The Council agreed, by a qualified majority, to a Commission proposal for a reduction in the crisis levy which reduces Community staff pay.706The protocol to the association agreement between the European Communities and Cyprus providing for transition to customs union between the Community and Cyprus was signed on 19 October. At the signature the presidency made it clear that the provisions of the protocol applied to the whole population of Cyprus. The technical protocol to the association agreement covering trade between Cyprus on the one hand and Spain and Portugal, following those countries' accession to the Community, was also signed.In Political Co-operation, Ministers adopted a statement on 14 September about the Israeli policy of establishing settlements in the occupied territories. The text of this statement has been placed in the Library of the House.