HC Deb 02 December 1991 vol 200 cc33-5W
Mr. Day

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

Mr. Garel-Jones

The Foreign Affairs Council will meet on 2 December. The main agenda items are preparations for the European Council on 9 and 10 December and Yugoslavia (including the question of positive additional measures). The Council will also agree a common position for the EC-Egypt Co-operation Council. There may also be discussion on the EC investment partners scheme which is designed to promote joint ventures between private enterprises in the Community and developing countries. There will also be a Ministerial session of the inter-governmental conference on political union on 2 and 3 December.

The economic and Finance Council will meet on 3 December. There will be discussion of food credit guarantees for the USSR and balance of payments assistance to Bulgaria and Romania. Ministers will also discuss the Council conclusion on the Commission's communication on a Community strategy to limit carbon dioxide emissions and improve energy efficiency".

This includes a proposal for a tax on the use of energy. There will be a Ministerial meeting of the intergovernmental conference on EMU on 1 and 2 December.

The Labour and Social Affairs Council will meet on Tuesday 3 December. Ministers are likely to discuss the proposed Directives on Working Time; European works councils; proposed recommendations on minimum resources; childcare; proposed directive on safety signs; the declaration on dignity at work (sexual harassment); social security for migrant workers and the Commission report on the second poverty programme.

The Agriculture Council will meet on 11 and 12 December. Ministers will discuss reform of the Common Agriculture Policy and agricultural aspects of the GATT Uruguay round. They may also discuss food quality.

The Environment Council will meet on 12 and 13 December. Ministers are likely to discuss proposals for regulations on eco-labelling, existing chemicals, the import and export of chemicals and a new environment fund (LIFE). Ministers may also consider the proposals for a directive on the protection of habitats and wild fauna and flora, and on the proposed regulation on the shipment of waste. The United Nations conference on environment and development and climate change will also be discussed.

Joint Energy and Environment Council will meet on 13 December. Ministers will discuss the Council conclusion on the Commission's communication on a Community strategy to limit carbon dioxide emissions and improve energy efficiency".

This includes a proposal for a tax on the use of energy.

The Economic and Finance Council will meet on 16 December. Ministers are likely to discuss the Portuguese convergence programme and the Investment Services Directive. Following detailed negotiations, political agreement on the draft Directive for the post-1992 transitional VAT arrangements was reached at ECOFIN on 11 November. Formal adoption of, and final agreement on, the legal text are expected at this Council, provided texts are available from the Jurists-Linguists. Any agreement will be subject to United Kingdom Parliamentary scrutiny. Following the agreement reached in principle at the July ECOFIN that case by case consideration of European Investment Bank lending should be available to countries with trade and co-operation agreements with the Community, the Council will now discuss the detailed terms and conditions under which lending might take place. Ministers may also consider road transport tax and a package agreed by OECD consenses participants to reduce trade distortive export credit and tied aid subsidies.

The Foreign Affairs Council will meet on 16–17 December. It may discuss the current state of negotiations in the GATT Uruguay round. The Council may approve the Community instruments for implementation of the new Mediterranean policy which was agreed at the 18 December 1990 FAC. On the Soviet Union, the Council will review the EC's programme of food and medical aid. Association agreements with Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland may be signed at the FAC. The Council will also discuss a possible association agreement with Bulgaria and Romania. Political agreement on the EEA was reached in October and it is hoped that Ministers will sign the draft EEA agreement.

The Transport Council will meet on 16 and 17 December. Ministers will discuss road issues including: access to the road haulage market, international passenger transport liberalisation, speed limiters and speed limits, road friendly suspensions for HGVs and the high level report on road safety, maritime cabotage, external relations relating to inland waterways, and the Loran-C navigation system. Transport access for the disabled, transport research, transport infrastructure and shipping consortia are likely to be discussed.

The Fisheries Council will meet on 17 and 18 December. Ministers will discuss total allowable catches and quotas, and agreements with third countries.

The Internal Market Council will meet on 19 December. Ministers are likely to discuss the intellectual property supplementary protection certificate for pharma-ceuticals regulation; copyright in the context of the accession to Berne and Rome conventions; public procurement of services; second diplomas directive; motor and motorcycle type approval; internal frontiers control on goods; future system for the free movement of medicinal products; cosmetics and the third non-life insurance directive. Ministers may also discuss homeo-pathic medicine; electro-magnetic compatibility; CE mark; units of measurement and tractor type approval consolidation. Ministers are likely to consider a Commission progress report on the implementation of the Single Market White Paper.

The Telecommunications Council may meet on 20 December. Ministers may discuss a Commission green paper on "postal Europe" and consider, for the forthcoming World administrative radio conferences, proposed negotiation Directives covering frequency allocation issues. Ministers are also likely to discuss the Commission's revised proposal for a Directive on technical standards for satellite broadcasting.