§ Mr. David Porter
To ask the President of the Board of Trade what monitoring his Department is doing into the extent of bilateral trade agreements by individual EC member states with the United States of America; if he will make it his policy to enter into such agreements separately from the European Commission negotiating rounds; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Needham
There is an annual decision by the Council of the European Community listing previous bilateral agreements between individual member states and third countries which remain in operation to the extent that their provisions do not conflict with Community law. The European Commission is responsible for negotiating the Community's trade agreements—in consultation with the member states, which approve the outcome—since such matters fall within the Community's common commercial policy. The United Kingdom cannot deviate from Community law in this respect.