HC Deb 20 October 1981 vol 10 cc103-5W
Mr. Lee

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council held on 14 September.

Mr. Humphrey Atkins:

My right hon. and noble Friend chaired the 14 September Council. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) represented Her Majesty's Government.

The Council discussed the implementation of the decision of the EC/Cyprus Association Council on 24 November 1980 that negotiations should take place this year on a new trade regime between the European Community and Cyprus to cover the years 1982 and 1983. No decisions were taken and the Council will consider the matter again at its meeting on 26 and 27 October.

Ministers discussed the Community's position in preparation for the next ministerial meeting with Spain in the context of the negotiations for Spain's accession to the Community. Agreement was reached on some important elements.

There was a brief review of recent international developments and of the prospects for the Cancun summit. Italian ideas on food and agriculture received a general welcome, and further papers on this subject will be submitted by the Commission. The Council agreed on a management regulation for the Community's programme of food aid for developing countries. The regulation should help improve the administration and effectiveness of the European Community's large food aid programme. The text agreed will now be considered by the European Parliament.

Ministers also discussed the implications for the Community of the recent establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council and agreed that preliminary informal contact would be established with a view to considering the scope for co-operation.

The Council took note of a statement by the United Kingdom Presidency on the political importance of agreeing a mandate for negotiations for a possible accession by the Community to the International Sugar Agreement, and discussed the state of negotiations with supplier countries on imports of manioc into the European Community.

The Council took note of statements made by a number of member States, including the United Kingdom, stressing the political importance of the Community's relationship with Yugoslavia. The Council expressed the hope that negotiations with Yugoslavia, due to begin later in September, on a protocol to adapt the 1980 EC/ Yugoslavia co-operation agreement to take account of Greek accession to the Community would be speedily concluded.

Finally, the Council had a first discussion of the issues raised in the Commission's report on the 30 May 1980 mandate. All member States set out their initial positions on the mandate. For the United Kingdom, my hon. Friend emphasised the need to give a real impetus to the Community's development by improving existing policies and developing new ones; the need for improvements in the common agricultural policy, with a view to curtailing the rate of growth in expenditure on it; the importance of maintaining the 1 per cent. VAT ceiling; and the need for the Community to take conscious decisions on how the budget should affect individual member States with the aim of ensuring a defensible pattern of net contributions and receipts.

The Council agreed that future discussions should proceed in parallel on the three broad areas identified in the Commission's report: development of Community policies—other than the CAP—improvements to the CAP, and the question of a budgetary corrective mechanism. The arrangements for further discussions in the period leading up to the European Council meeting on 26–27 November were approved.

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