HC Deb 07 March 1990 vol 168 c696W
52. Mr. Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the President of the European Commission.

Mr. Hurd

The Foreign Affairs Council met in Brussels on 5 March. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and I represented the United Kingdom.

The Council discussed progress and prospects for the GATT Uruguay round, reffirmed its commitment to a successful outcome and agreed on the need for EC initiatives, particularly on the settlement of disputes. The United Kingdom stressed the importance of making progress on agriculture.

The Council accepted that the Commission on its own responsibility should begin discussion with the Japanese on the future regime for imports of Japanese cars. The United Kingdom pressed for a liberal approach, arguing that there should be no restrictions on cars produced by Japanese-owned firms in the United Kingdom.

In a brief discussion of eastern Europe, the Council approved the Commission's negotiating mandate for a trade and commercial and economic co-operation agreement with Czechoslovakia. The Commission also reported on the recent fact-finding mission to Belgrade. The United Kingdom suggested that for purposes of future EC aid Yugoslavia should be treated primarily as an east European rather than a Mediterranean country. Herr Genscher briefed his colleagues on the latest developments over German unification and its external consequences, which Ministers then discussed.

The Council approved a Commission report on future EC assistance to the occupied territories following the commitment at the Strasbourg European Council to double the volume of EC aid to the territories.

Ministers discussed preparations for the intergovernmental conference on economic and monetary union, initiated the formal procedure for consulting the European Parliament and agreed to consider arrangements for informal dialogue with the Parliament.

There was also discussion of the siting of the European Environment Agency, the European bank for reconstruction and development (EBRD) and other Community institutions. The United Kingdom pressed the merits of Cambridge and London to host the Environment Agency and EBRD respectively.