HC Deb 21 January 2003 vol 398 cc164-5
10. Mr. Chris Bryant (Rhondda)

What assessment he has made of the priorities of the Greek Presidency of the European Union. [91789]

The Minister for Europe (Mr. Denis MacShane)

Greece has identified five main priorities for its presidency: enlargement; taking forward the Lisbon agenda of economic and social reform; asylum and immigration; the debate on the future of Europe; and external relations.

Mr. Bryant

Clearly, one of the major issues facing the Greek presidency is the next steps involved in the Convention on the Future of Europe. Now that the French and German Governments are finally succumbing to British pressure and are supporting the British Government's suggestion of a permanent president for the European Council of Ministers, does the Minister think that it may be possible to persuade the French and the Germans to abandon the ludicrous caravanserai between Brussels and Strasbourg and to have a permanent site for the European Union?

Mr. MacShane

There is a permanent site for the European Parliament and that is enshrined in treaties: it is in Strasbourg. I sometimes wonder whether the European Parliament could win more friends if it met occasionally in other great cities of Europe but that is a matter to address to the European Parliament. The permanent site remains Strasbourg.

Mr. David Cameron (Witney)

When the Minister meets with the Greek presidency, can he discuss EU directive 2000/68, which states that every horse, donkey and pony in the European Union will have to carry a passport, I quote, "at all times"? Is the Minister aware that that has come about because of French concerns about equine drugs entering the food system? Does he not think that it is ridiculous that horse owners should have to carry extra paperwork just to satisfy those deeply unsatisfactory French eating habits, and will he reflect on the fact that while the Government seem to be going to vast efforts to stop horses that are crossing continents from coming to this country, the asylum system is still in a shambles?

Mr. MacShane

I was not sure when the hon. Gentleman was referring to horses, ponies and donkeys whether he was referring to his own Benches, but the transporting of animals is a serious problem in Europe and the hon. Gentleman, representing a farming constituency, should have some mind to that. Knowing the origin of animals and having them properly marked and logged is of deep importance to the farming community in this and other countries. The hon. Gentleman should not make light of or mock the need to defend our farmers by ensuring that they know where animals have come from and where they go.

Back to
Forward to