HL Deb 04 December 1991 vol 533 cc227-8

2.56 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they expect a decision on the location of the new European Environmental Agency.

Viscount Astor

My Lords, the Government have been pressing for a decision to be taken on the location of the European Environmental Agency since November 1989 when the Environment Council agreed in principle to set up such a body. We expect a decision to be made shortly.

Lord Campbell of Croy

My Lords, I am grateful for that encouraging reply. Is it correct that the work of the new agency is being delayed by an attempt by the French Government to trade this decision for another decision—that Strasbourg should be the permanent seat of the European Parliament? If so, is there also any sign of a conclusion to that long drawn out argument involving Luxembourg?

Viscount Astor

My Lords, my noble friend is right to a degree. The main problem is that the agency is one of a number of institutions looking for a home. The other two are the Community Trade Mark Office and the European Training Board. One of the location issues to be solved has been the future location of the European Parliament. The French are pressing for a commitment to Strasbourg, and that has caused difficulties for the package as a whole. However, it is important that the agency is set up and running as soon as possible.

Baroness Nicol

My Lords, will the Minister accept that we too support the idea of this agency, and we wish to see it working as quickly as possible wherever it may be located? Is there any intention to attempt to get other non-EC countries into it, especially the Eastern European countries, whose contribution to the pollution of the planet is considerable, and which need to be brought under some control as soon as possible?

Viscount Astor

My Lords, that has already occurred: EFTA countries and our Eastern European friends have expressed a wish to join in the agency work, and we shall work with them.

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