HL Deb 24 October 1984 vol 456 cc212-3

3.35 p.m.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I hope that your Lordships will forgive me if I intervene now to repeat a Statement being made in another place by my right honourable and learned friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. The Statement is as follows:

"With permission, Mr Speaker, I should like to make a Statement about the Foreign Affairs Council which I attended in Luxembourg on 22nd–23rd October, as well as on the main developments in the Community during the Recess.

"I am arranging for a note on the other issues discussed at this and other Councils during the Recess to be published in the Official Report.

"Considerable progress was made in the negotiations on the accession of Spain and Portugal. Community positions were agreed and communicated to the Spanish and Portugese Foreign Ministers on a number of matters including olive oil, where a position designed to prevent the development of a surplus was adopted; and to the Spanish Foreign Minister on industrial tariffs, where the Community's position provides for the more rapid reduction of high Spanish tariffs and an extended reduced duty quota for cars. The Council adopted a declaration noting that agreement had been reached on most of the main issues in the negotiations with Portugal and looking forward to the accession of both countries to the Community on 1st January 1986.

"In addition to the Ministerial meetings held with Spain and Portugal there was also a meeting of the EC/Jordan Co-operation Council.

"In the Council, I made clear our concern at the Commission's latest scheme for sales of intervention butter and whether in particular this was compatible with the Community's obligations under the GATT.

"More generally, considerable progress has been made in the Council towards implementing the Fountainebleau agreement and resolving the outstanding budget issues. The Foreign Affairs Council on 2nd–3rd October adopted the 1985 provisional draft budget within the one per cent. VAT ceiling and sent it forward to the European Parliament. Agreement was also reached to provide 1,000 mecu of supplementary finance through an inter-governmental agreement to cover the Community's inescapable financial obligations for 1984. The Council noted that our willingness to participate in that agreement would depend on release by the European Parliament of the United Kingdom's refunds for 1983 and agreement on the measures necessary to guarantee the effective implementation of the principles of budget discipline agreed at the European Council. The Council reaffirmed the commitment of the European Council that the 1,000 mecus abatement of our contribution in respect of 1984 will be made on the revenue side of the budget in 1985.

"Substantial agreement on a satisfactory text on budget discipline was reached at the ECOFIN Council on 1st October. The Irish presidency is now conducting further consultations with a view to reaching final agreement at an early meeting of the council.

"On 10th October the European Parliament voted to release the United Kingdom's refunds, amounting to about £440 million net. Ninety per cent. of gross refund, i.e. £538 million, is due to be paid to the United Kingdom in the course of the next few days."

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

Following is the note referred to in the Statement: