HC Deb 19 July 1994 vol 247 cc97-8W
Mr. Channon

To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the outcome of the special European Council held in Brussels on 15 July.

The Prime Minister

A special meeting of the European Council was held in Brussels on 15 July to consider the presidency of the European Commission and certain international questions. I attended with my right hon. Friend, the Foreign Secretary and with my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Following his consultations with Council members over the previous two weeks, the President of the European Council, Chancellor Kohl, proposed that the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Mr. Jacques Santer, should take over as the President of the European Commission on 7 January 1995.

All members of the Council endorsed this proposal. During a short discussion, I underlined the challenges facing the European Union in the period ahead, including making the single market and the need to extend prosperity and security to the east. I believed that Mr. Santer was well qualified to lead the European Commission during this period. He will have an important role to play in bringing together different points of view.

In accordance with article 158 of the treaty on European Union, the Council President will now consult the European Parliament on the nomination of Mr. Santer.

After a report by the Italian Prime Minister on the Naples summit, the Council discussed the former Yugoslavia. My right hon. Friend reported on the visit which he had paid earlier in the week to the region with the French Foreign Minister. Heads of Government expressed their support for the contact group's plan. They believed that everything possible should be done to secure its acceptance and avoid a yet more dangerous situation.

The French Prime Minister briefed the Council on the action taken by his Government in Rwanda. In the light of the grave humanitarian situation there, the Council asked the Commission to bring forward proposals for additional aid from the European Union.

Finally, the Council discussed the Baltic states and Ukraine. The European Union is seeking to develop its relationships with those countries; to work for the withdrawal of the last Russian troops from the Baltic States; and to help Ukraine to develop a new energy strategy, including closure of the nuclear power plants at Chernobyl.