HC Deb 10 December 1992 vol 215 cc758-9W
Mr. Trend

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council held on 7 December.

Mr. Hurd

My right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and I represented the United Kingdom at the Foreign Affairs Council on 7 December, with my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for the discussion of the Uruguay round.

I briefed European Community ministerial colleagues on plans for handling the European Council in Edinburgh. The Council of Ministers had a further discussion on the future financing of the Community. They focused mainly on internal policies and administration issues, which had not been fully discussed at the conclave of Foreign and Finance Ministers on 27 November.

The Council noted that the essential elements of the Community's general framework for enlargement negotiations with applicants from the European Free Trade Association had been established. The Council agreed to forward the Norwegian application to the Commission for its opinion.

The Council discussed the European economic area in the light of the negative vote in the Swiss referendum. The Council noted that, without Switzerland, the agreement would require modifications. It invited the Commission to make early contact with the European Free Trade Association countries and to report to the Council on 21 December.

The Council discussed recent progress in the GATT Uruguay round negotiations, particularly on agriculture. It agreed that substantial results would be needed in the Geneva negotiations in non-agricultural areas as well.

Ministers discussed Commission proposals on Community trade instruments and important restrictions. The Council expressed concern over the handling by the United States Government of anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases affecting Community steel producers and asked the Commission to raise the matter with the United States authorities.

The Council discussed a report on European Community relations with the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia presented by Ambassador O'Neill, my personal representative on the question. Ministers issued a statement on Somalia, welcoming the adoption of United Nations Security Council resolution 794.

In further preparation for the Edinburgh European Council, Ministers met separately on 8 December to discuss a possible solution to the Danish question, subsidiarity and openness. Ministers also discussed a Commission report on strengthening links with the countries of central and eastern Europe.

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