HL Deb 21 June 1993 vol 547 cc94-6

Baroness Trumpington rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 13th May be approved [30th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I beg to move a draft Order in Council specifying the EC-San Marino Agreement on Customs Union and Cooperation as a European Treaty under Section 1(3) of the European Communities Act 1972. The procedure is necessary, as it is a mixed competence agreement requiring approval by EC member states and the European Parliament. The European Parliament gave its assent on 9th July 1992.

The essence of the agreement is the establishment of a customs union and co-operation in a number of other fields, including the commercial, economic, social and cultural sectors. The agreement was signed by the European Community and the member states on 16th December 1991 and was the subject of Foreign and Commonwealth Office Explanatory Memorandum 9377/91 on 21st November 1991. The House of Lords' Select Committee on the European Communities considered the agreement, but did not report on it.

The content of the agreement falls under four headings. The first and most important element concerns the customs union between the Community and San Marino earlier established under the Interim Agreement. That is desirable, both in terms of liberalising trade fully within the geographical area of the Community, and to ensure that San Marino does not become an unregulated customs zone within the EC.

In addition to its provisions on trade, the agreement establishes co-operation between the Community and San Marino in the industry and services sector, the environment, tourism and culture. A section on social matters provides for equal treatment for workers from San Marino and from the Community with regard to working conditions, remuneration and social security. Declarations attached to the agreement deal with matters such as transport, teacher and student exchanges, services, intellectual, industrial and commercial property, recognition of qualifications and technical regulations.

The agreement is straightforward, and is based largely on the customs union with Andorra (5963/90) which was signed in June 1990 and is now in effect. The Government welcome the agreement. It sets co-operation between the Community and San Marino on a more formal footing and strengthens existing commercial, economic, social and cultural links. San Marino plays its part in various international organisations, including the Council of Europe and the CSCE and has just become a full member of the United Nations. This EC agreement will complement that by establishing the Community's relationship with San Marino on a more formal and mutually beneficial basis. I therefore commend the instrument to the House.

Moved, That the Draft Order laid before the House on 13th May be approved [30th Report from the Joint Committee]—(Baroness Trumpington.)

Lord Morris of Castle Morris

My Lords, there is nothing controversial about the order. It is not a matter of Maastricht proportions and its provisions are not particularly profound—unless, of course, you happen to be one of the 22,000 inhabitants of San Marino for whom it does have rather more considerable interest. As the noble Baroness said, it deals essentially with a customs union. But, in addition to the provisions on trade, the agreement which lies behind it establishes a useful co-operation between the Community and San Marino on a number of matters; for example, tourism, culture, student exchanges, services and industrial and commercial property. The order will help to place co-operation between the Community and San Marino on a better footing. We believe that it should be approved.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, can my noble friend remind me of exactly where San Marino is to be found?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, I can tell my noble friend that it is near Rimini. It has three armies, two police forces and a great many souvenir shops. It also has two presidents who do not serve for more than six months at a time because it was thought, in the original agreement, that they had not sufficient time to remunerate themselves. But, on the other hand, their neutrality was welcomed both by the British and by Mussolini during the war when they took in 100,000 refugees, which is quite a large number compared to their own population and greatly to be applauded.

On Question, Motion agreed to.