Mr. Andy Stewart
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the outcome of the Agriculture Council held in Brussels on 10 and 11 December.
§ Mr. Gummer
I represented the United Kingdom at this meeting of the Council together with my hon. Friend the Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry), Parliamentary Secretary in my Department.
Agreement was reached on a directive laying down the principles covering veterinary checks on meat and other animal products entering the Community from third countries and laying down rules on the definition of vermouths. These were satisfactory for the United Kingdom.
Ministers agreed in principle to extend for a year the ban on the use of bovine somatotropin (BST) in the Community pending the results of relevant scientific experiments. This is a sensible approach which is expected to be formally agreed when the relevant Commission proposal comes forward which is expected to be very soon.
I took the opportunity to press the Commission to take steps to ensure that east European suppliers respect minimum prices when exporting soft fruit to the Community. The Commissioner showed sympathy with this request.
There was a discussion on the GATT round following the disappointing conclusion to the conference in Brussels last week. I pushed hard for a united Community position which provided a sufficient envelope for the Commission 416W to be able to negotiate a satisfactory arrangement on agriculture which, as all recognise, would be a vital component in any final settlement.