§ Viscount Davidson
asked Her Majesty's Government:
If they will report on the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council held on 8th March.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey)
My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary attended the Foreign Affairs Council on 8th March. My honourable friend the Minister for Trade represented the UK on trade issues.
The Council reached a common position on the Commission's proposal of a one year Cohesion Fund Instrument. The European Parliament will now be consulted and it is expected that the regulation will enter into force in time to meet the 1st April deadline set at the Edinburgh Council.
Foreign Ministers signed an EC Association Agreement with Bulgaria. Similar agreements were signed with Poland and Hungary in December 1991, and with Romania in February 1993.
The Council agreed an additional protocol to the European Economic Area Agreement following Switzerland's rejection of the EEA. This now opens the way to the ratification of the agreement, which will create the world's largest single market, covering the Community and six EFTA countries.
Foreign Ministers discussed the Community's relations with Russia. They reaffirmed the Community's continued support for economic and political reform in Russia.
The Council continued its discussion of a Commission proposal to change the decision-making procedures for Community anti-dumping and other commercial defence measures. The Commission reported to the Council on developments concerning the GATT Uruguay Round and EC/US trade issues.
The Netherlands, and the Commission, together with France and Italy, agreed to hold further discussions on possible trade measures in respect of rice from the Netherlands Antilles.
In a discussion of latest developments in the former Yugoslavia, Lord Owen outlined his strategy for securing the agreement of all parties to the Vance-Owen proposals. Ministers gave unanimous support to this approach and agreed that existing sanctions should be tightened.