HL Deb 19 April 1991 vol 527 cc95-6WA
Lord Gainford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council on 15th April.

The Earl of Caithness:

A meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council took place in Luxembourg on 15th April. My honourable friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs represented the United Kingdom.

The Council reviewed the progress of the EC/EFTA negotiations on a European Economic Area which will extend the Internal Market to the EFTA countries. The Council instructed the Committee of Permanent Representatives to continue work on the detailed issues and agreed to propose to EFTA a joint EC/EFTA ministerial meeting on 13th May.

The Commission briefed the Council about the negotiations for Association Agreements between the European Community and Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The Council declared its readiness to adopt a flexible approach in the negotiations, particularly on trade access, with a view to concluding them as soon as possible.

The Council discussed a draft EC/Japan Declaration and agreed that further work was necessary before the draft could he passed to the Japanese. It also considered which countries should participate in the European Energy Charter and agreed to re-examine the issue on 15th May.

At the request of the United Kingdom, Ministers discussed a package of aid from the Community and member states to help those suffering famine in Africa. They agreed on the need for emergency aid and asked the Commission to make proposals urgently.

Ministers also discussed disbursement of the 150 mecu humanitarian assistance for Iraqi refugees agreed at the Special European Council of 8th April. They invited the President of the Council to discuss with the UN Secretary General how Saddam Hussein could be held to account for his actions.