HL Deb 24 June 1991 vol 530 cc31-2WA
Baroness Macleod of Borve

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the outcome of the ministerial meeting of the Inter-Governmental Conference on Political Union on 17th June.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (The Earl of Caithness)

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs attended the ministerial meeting of the Inter-Governmental Conference on Political Union on 17th June. The meeting discussed the structure of the draft treaty on political union, competence issues, and the institutional chapter of the draft treaty.

On the overall structure of the treaty, member states and the Commission fall into two camps: those who would like to see a unitary structure will all the activities of the European union coming under the Treaty of Rome and those like us who would prefer to see a common foreign and security policy and co-operation on interior/justice matters preserved outside the provisions of the Treaty of Rome.

The latest Presidency draft treaty is a compromise between these two positions, maintaining three separate pillars of co-operation but attempting to bring them together under a unitary structure. My right honourable friend argued that, while ingenious, this remained undesirable. The discussion was inconclusive.

The Presidency have proposed the extension of Community competence in a number of areas. The meeting discussed both the principle and the practical details of these proposed extensions. My right honourable friend emphasised that we were not convinced of the need to extend Community competence in the areas under discussion.

Discussion of the institutional chapter focused on the proposed co-decision procedure between the Council and the European Parliament. A range of views was expressed.

Several member states thought a co-decision undesirable or unnecessary, others could accept the procedure proposed and some member states wished to see the European Parliament's legislative role expanded even further. My right honourable friend made it clear we did not see a case for upsetting the existing institutional balance. My right honourable friend also emphasised the importance we attached to ensuring the rule of law in the Community and argued for the UK proposals to strengthen the Court of Justice's powers to ensure compliance with its judgments.

Progress in the IGC on political union will be reviewed by the European Council on 28th/29th June.