HC Deb 08 February 1995 vol 254 cc287-8W
Mr. Day

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 on 23 to 24 January.

Mr. David Davis

The Council began with an open debate on the French presidency programme. All member states broadly endorsed the presidency's plans.

The Commission then set out its timetable for follow-up work to the Essen European Council. Commission priorities include the White Paper on the integration of the central and eastern European states into the single market, proposals on financing for trans-European networks and a paper on the Mediterranean.

The Council agreed the text of the EC/Vietnam co-operation agreement.

The presidency's proposals for handling the preparations for the Euro-Mediterranean conference were agreed.

The presidency reported on progress in the negotiations on customs union with Turkey and on preparations for the review of Cyprus' application for EU membership. This was remitted for further discussion at the 6 February FAC.

Ministers discussed events in Chechnya and issued a statement.

The presidency outlined plans for the preparation for the Council's report to the 1996 IGC study group.

The Council agreed a statement on Algeria which confirmed the EU's support for all initiatives aimed at encouraging dialogue between those who reject terrorism and violence. The EU also confirmed its willingness to support a policy of democratic development and economic restructuring in Algeria.

Over lunch, the Italian Foreign Minister, Ms Agnelli, said the new Italian Government were ready to resume discussions soon with Slovenia over obstacles to the EU/Slovenia agreement.

Ministers took note of the Danish candidacy to succeed Switzerland as OSCE chairman in office in 1997.

The Council heard a report from Lord Owen and exchanged views on the situation in the former Yugoslavia. They approved a declaration on Bosnia and Croatia. They agreed to consider in March whether to begin negotiations on an EU/Croatia trade co-operation agreement. The Council also adopted a common position and Council regulation continuing sanctions relief for Serbia-Montenegro.

The presidency and the Commission informed Ministers about preparations for the concluding conference to adopt the stability pact in Paris on 20–21 March.

The French For

eign Minister, Mr. Juppe, and Sir Leon Brittan briefed the Council on the agenda for their 26–27 January visit to Washington. Mr. Juppe said that he would raise EU/United States relations, former Yugoslavia, the middle east peace process, Latin America, Russia and Chechnya, and the director-generalship of the WTO.

Sir Leon Britt

an reported briefly on relations with Japan and looked forward to a full debate at the April FAC. He introduced the Commission's communication on Korea, proposing a Commission negotiating mandate for an EU/Korea trade and co-operation agreement.

The Council approved a statement expressing interest in the Singaporean proposal for an EU/Asian Summit and requesting the political committee and Coreper to present it with a report in March.

The presidency. noted that the Commission would shortly come forward with a draft mandate for article XXIV.6 negotiations with the United States and others to compensate for tariff increases arising from EU enlargement.

There was a preliminary discussion on trade aspects of the mid-term review of the fourth Lome convention, and on the size of the eighth European development fund.

Mr. Martin—Com

missioner for the Mediterranean. Latin America, the middle east and Asia—reported on progress in negotiations with Israel, Morocco and Tunisia.

The Council agreed on an early ministerial Troika visit to Lebanon, Syria, Israel and the Occupied Territories.

A partnership and co-operation agreement between the EU and Kazakhstan was signed on 23 January.