HC Deb 27 July 1977 vol 936 cc228-9W
Mr. Jim Marshall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the last meeting of the EEC Council of Ministers.

Dr. Owen

I attended the EEC Council of Ministers in Brussels on 26th July. My hon. Friend the Minister of State was also present and attended a negotiating session with the Greek Government on 25th July.

The Council had been mandated by the European Council in June to resolve the question of where the JET nuclear fusion project should be sited. The Belgian Presidency conducted informal soundings amongst Foreign Ministers to try to establish a consensus in favour of either Culham or Garching. It again proved impossible to secure a decision. It was agreed, however, that there would be contacts between Britain and Germany in early September, with the involvement of the Presidency. The Council will then make a further effort to reach agreement on 20th September. In the meantime, the contracts of personnel working at Culham on the design of JET will be extended to 30th September.

On external fisheries matters, it was agreed that the Commission should continue its contacts with a number of West African States with a view to obtaining satisfactory conditions for Community fishing off their coasts, a matter of particular concern to the Italian Government. The Council also agreed to roll forward the existing fisheries quotas for Spain until the end of September.

Guidelines were agreed for the further negotiations with Canada which the Commission will now hold on uranium supplies to Euratom countries.

The Commission reported on its talks with the United States about ways of making progress in the mutilateral trade negotiations and on the position in the negotiations for the renewal of the Multi-Fibre Arrangement in Geneva. The Commission will open bilateral negotiations with the textile exporting countries as quickly as possible, reflecting the Community's mandate in full and in detail and keeping in close contact with member States. The Council agreed on Community measures to be taken immediately against imports of certain textiles. It also agreed on the measures to be taken following the finding that Japanese roller bearings had been dumped in the Community market. The United Kingdom drew attention to the need for flexibility in handling the negotiations at the International Sugar Conference; and the Council agreed that this question would be re-examined in September.

The Council decided that signature of agreements with Cyprus and Malta should take place in September. It took note of a Lebanese request for access to loans from the European Investment Bank and agreed that the bank should be consulted. The ministerial meeting with the Greeks in the margins of the Council was a further round of the accession negotiations. The next meeting will be in October.

The Council noted with satisfaction the interim trade and aid arrangements made for Jibuti in the period before it accedes to the Lomé Convention. In the margins of the Council, Ministers met in political co-operation and discussed other African matters.

Ministers noted that the next meeting of the General Commission of the Euro/Arab Dialogue would take place in October and stressed the importance they attached to its success.

Mr. George Rodgers

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish in the Official Report a forecast of business in the Council of Ministers of the EEC during August and September 1977.

Mr. Judd

The Council will not meet during August but as full a forecast as possible of business likely to appear on the agenda for September has been deposited in the House.