HC Deb 15 April 1991 vol 189 cc107-8W
Mr. Nicholls

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish in theOfficial Report a statement of forthcoming business in the European Community Council of Ministers.

Mr. Garel-Jones

The Special European Council met on 8 April. Ministers discussed the political, security and economic aspects of the post-war situation in the Gulf. At British request, they considered the plight of the refugees in and from Iraq and agreed to provide 150 mecu in emergency aid. Ministers condemned the Iraqi Government's repression of its civilian population particularly the Kurds and called for the maintenance of sanctions while current Iraqi policies persist. Ministers also considered the conditions for peace and stability in the region and the role of the Community in the peace process. I also refer my hon. Friend to the statement on the situation in Iraq made in the House by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs this afternoon.

The Economic and Finance Council met on 8 April and discussed tax issues relating to road transport; the financial implications of the Commission's 1991–92 common agricultural policy price-fixing proposals; the Commission's proposals for a loan to Romania; articles 4 and 8 of the takeovers directive; and the regulated markets provision of the investment services directive. New proposals to remove withholding taxes on cross-border interest and royalty payments within groups of companies and to provide tax relief for the losses of companies' overseas permanent establishments and subsidiaries were formally presented to the Council, although without discussion. The Ministerial meeting of the intergovernmental conference on economic and monetary union on 8 April discussed progress made by Ministers' personal representatives over the last month, in particular focusing on capital liberalisation and transition to stage 2.

The Foreign Affairs Council will meet on 15 April and may discuss the follow-up to the informal European Council meeting of 8 April. It will review progress in the EC-EFTA negotiations on a European economic area and consider the next steps in the negotiations. The Commission might report on the negotiations taking place for association agreements with Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In EPC discussions, Ministers may discuss, inter alia, the latest developments in Iraq, Yugoslavia and Albania. Ministers will discuss EC-Japan relations including a draft declaration, which the presidency and Commission intend to agree with Japan in May and also the Commission's draft document on the energy charter. A ministerial meeting of the intergovernmental conference on political union will be held on 17 April and will discuss a full range of issues including an overview of progress in negotiations.

The Fisheries Council will meet on 18 April and will discuss the 10th and 11th amendments to the conservation regulation, the Commission communications on the common fisheries policy and data on the landing of fisheries products in member states.

The Agriculture Council will meet on 22–23 April and will discuss the 1991 price-fixing proposals and the agriculture aspects of the GATT Uruguay round.

The Research Council will meet on 24 April and may discuss relations with the European Parliament in the light of its request for the Commission to withdraw the five proposals for research programmes under the third framework programme on which the Council has agreed common positions. The Council will discuss the position of foreign-owned companies in Community research programmes. It is possible that common positions will be agreed on the information technologies, biomedical and health, non-nuclear energy, industrial and materials, and agro-industrial research programmes of the third framework programme.

The Industry Council will meet on 29 April and may discuss the Commission's communications on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), biotechnology and the future of the ECSC Treaty. Ministers may also discuss industrial policy, the consumer electronics and semiconductors industries and the state of work concerning the textiles industry (annual report).

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