HC Deb 05 May 1977 vol 931 cc283-4W
Mr. Edwin Wainwcenter

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the EEC Council of Foreign Ministers held on 3rd May.

Dr. Owen

I was in the chair for the fifth Foreign Affairs Council of 1977 held in Brussels on 3rd May. My center hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and my hon. Friends the Minister of State and the Under-Secretary of State represented the United Kingdom.

The major item under discussion was the CIEC. The Council took decisions on the Community's negotiating position on a number of outstanding CIEC issues, particularly in the fields of raw materials and the transfer of resources. This completes the Community's preparation for the concluding ministerial meeting of the CIEC which is due to take place from 30th May to 1st June. The Community now has a good basis on which to pursue its constructive participation in the conference.

The Council also discussed progress on fisheries negotiations. My hon. Friend made it clear that the Government would not accept the present Faroese offer on the number of licences for fishing for cod and haddock. Discussion is continuing today in the Committee of Permanent Representatives.

The Council also had a useful discussion on the Downing Street Summit, giving member Governments the opportunity to express their views on matters which fall within the competence of the Community—trade questions, the North-South dialogue, and some aspects of energy. Community participants will be able to reflect points made in this discussion at Downing Street.

There was a preliminary exchange of the CMEA communication on EEC-CMEA relations received on 18th April. The Council agreed that the suggestions put forward by the CMEA would be carefully studied and a reply delivered in due course. There was a discussion of a new régime for the import of Greek wines. Agreeement was reached on a mandate for negotiations with Cyprus for new trading arrangements to be put into effect when the present arrangements expire on 30th June 1977. The Council will return later to the question of possible financial help for Portugal. During the meeting the Community signed a Co-operation Agreement with the Lebanon, thereby completing EEC agreements with the Mashraq. Further progress was made towards final agreement on the Community's mandate for the negotiations on the renewal of the multi-fibre textiles arrangement.

On fisheries, apart from the Faroes, the Council reviewed progress on other negotiations, including those with the Soviet Union and with Spain. On the internal régime there was some discussion of the Irish arrest of Dutch fishing vessels for breach of Irish conservation measures. The Commission indicated that they were instituting infraction proceedings against Ireland. It was generally agreed that this case reinforced the need for progress on the internal fisheries régime.

The Commission explained the current position on negotiations over Canadian uranium supplies and commented on possible need for Community action on marine pollution. The Commission also consulted the Council under Article 61 of the ECSC Treaty on the possible imposition of minimum prices for steel reinforcing bars. Member States expressed divergent views and the Commission will now consider what action is appropriate under the Treaty.