HC Deb 02 March 1994 vol 238 cc940-1
17. Sir David Knox

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he proposes to have discussions with his European Union partners concerning the strengthening of intergovernmental co-operation on foreign policy.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

We regularly meet with other member states to discuss the strengthening of intergovernmental co-operation on foreign policy.

Sir David Knox

Which particular areas have been identified in which the countries of the Community can work together during the next few months? Will my hon. Friend agree that this process has been greatly facilitated by the Maastricht treaty?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

The Maastricht treaty set up the intergovernmental pillar of the Union to allow us to carry forward these initiatives. My hon. Friend asks which areas. The middle east, the former Soviet Union, South Africa and the former Yugoslavia are four of them, and already we have a joint action to deliver humanitarian aid in Bosnia.

Mr. Worthington

Is not the Sudan a further area in which the European Union could work together and throw its full weight behind the report of the special rapporteur on human rights, Gaspar Biro, and insist that the Sudanese Government allow international aid agencies and international observers into all parts of the Sudan and, in particular, into the Nuba mountains where there is mass destruction and mass killing?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

The fact that the European Union is concerned about the Sudan does not mean that the problems are any more intractable and difficult, but this is certainly an area which concerns the Foreign Ministers of the Union, and I will pass on the hon. Gentleman's particular concerns.

Mr. Paice

Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the major benefits of the recent decision regarding the accession of three new member states which he mentioned earlier is that, whether we are talking about the foreign policy pillar or any other pillar, we have seen a substantial shift from net recipients to net contributors and that this shift in the balance of decision-making in the Community must be very good news for this country?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

My hon. Friend is entirely right. Probably all, but certainly three, of the new member states who we hope will accede will be net contributors to the budget and this will make them as interested as we are in budgetary discipline.

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