HC Deb 22 December 1988 vol 144 cc379-80W
Mr. John Greenway

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will report on the Industry Council held on 13 December.

Mr. Newton

The Council considered three items concerning the Community steel industry. First it agreed to the extension for a further three-year period from 1 January 1989 of the present strict rules governing the payment of state aid to European Coal and Steel Community steel producers.

Secondly, the Council reached provisional agreement, subject to the lifting of reserves by two member states, on a compromise solution to the Italian Government's request for Council agreement to its restructuring plan for the Italian public sector steel industry. The compromise would enable the Italian Government to grant only two thirds of the aid for which they had requested authority, in exchange for carrying out all the capacity closures foreseen in the restructuring plan. Discussion of the need for the balance of the aid would be postponed until September 1990, unless there were a rapid downturn in the steel market before then. The Council would take a decision on further Italian capacity closures at the same time. It was agreed that this item should be considered further at the 21 December Internal Market Council.

Thirdly, the Council also discuss social aid for steelworkers, but was unable to reach agreement with the European Commission on the means of funding such measures.

There was also discussion of a Commission proposal for expansion of the EuroInfoCentre network. The Greek presidency also suggested that the Council make a declaration on the Community's policy towards small and medium sized enterprises; it was agreed that this matter should be deferred for discussion in the Council's working groups.

There was also discussion of a Commission report on the Community's textile industry and a statement by the Greek presidency on the Community's mining industry.

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