HL Deb 22 June 1977 vol 384 cc746-7WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What legal régime it is anticipated will obtain in the "Europe Canal", which is expected in the early 1980s to join the Rhine and the Danube, thus creating an all-water route between the Black Sea and the North Sea; whether the political, economic and military aspects of this development are under appropriate consideration; and whether they will publish an explanatory memorandum.


The canal linking the rivers Rhine, Main and Danube will be in the Federal Republic of Germany and it will be for that country to regulate the use of it.

Consideration has been given to the possible effects of the canal on East-West political relations, and to the extent that there are no adverse military or economic consequences we welcome its development as a contribution to freer contact between the peoples of East and West. There are no political aspects of the canal that require study in the context of our bilateral relations with France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands or Austria.

As to the economic implications of the opening of the canal, measures to deal with subsidised competition from Eastern European shipping have been proposed by the member countries of the Rhine Commission. These draft measures are at present being examined by the European Commission as to their compatibility with the Community obligations of EEC members.

Such military implications as there may be will be for consideration by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The Government believe that an explanatory memorandum would serve a more useful purpose when the measures necessary to meet unfair competition have been agreed upon by the Rhine Commission and the European Community. They can then be explained in the memorandum.