HC Deb 27 November 1995 vol 267 cc425-6W
Mr. Barnes

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 20 to 21 November, giving details of all votes and all decisions which were determined by unanimity or without dissension. [1597]

Mr. David Davis

The A items listed in document 11618/95, which will be deposited in the Library of the House as soon as it is available, were adopted, except for that on Nigeria, which was the subject of substantive discussion.

The Council took note of the European Parliament resolutions in document 10794/95 PE-RE 73. A copy of this document will be deposited in the Library of the House as soon as it is available.

On Mediterranean policy, the Council discussed preparations for the Barcelona conference. It also considered the draft MEDA regulation, on assistance to countries in the Mediterranean region. The item was referred back to the Committee of Permanent Representatives for further consideration and will be examined again at the 4 to 5 December Council.

The Council briefly discussed the prospects for the 9 December Paris conference on economic assistance for Palestinians.

The Commission presented draft negotiating directives for a new EU-Chile framework co-operation agreement. This was remitted to COREPER for further work.

The Commission presented an outline of a communication on future humanitarian aid to former Yugoslavia, focusing on aid quantity and quality and the need to ensure success of future rehabilitation and repatriation programmes.

The Commission briefly introduced draft negotiating directives for an agreement between the EC and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. This was remitted to COREPER for further work.

The Commission also presented a paper on. reconstruction, co-ordination and financing in former Yugoslavia. The Council took note and asked COREPER to take the work forward. The Council agreed to a fact-finding mission on the needs of the high representative and his staff and the principle of a joint action on the EU contribution to the costs of the high representative and his staff in Sarajevo and Brussels.

On Nigeria, the Council adopted a common position covering a ban on military sales, an extension of the visa regime to civilian members of the Nigerian Government and suspension of EU aid. The Council also agreed to examine further measures.

The Council agreed, by qualified majority, a negotiating mandate which would provide for 5 per cent. increases in agriculture quotas, year on year, for central and east European countries, with a list of exceptions. The UK, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands voted against, and issued an explanatory declaration. The Commission expressed strong regret at the Council's decision.

The Council adopted conclusions on EU-Russia relations.

The Council agreed in principle to an EU contribution to the Korean Peninsular Energy Development Organisation—KEDO—but instructed COREPER to consider the matter further, including the size of the EU contribution.

On EU-US relations, the Council agreed an action plan to be endorsed at the EU-US summit on 3 December, including a commitment to a study on ways to reduce and eliminate trade barriers.

The presidency gave a brief progress report on negotiations with third countries for tariff compensation following enlargement, under GATT article XXIV.6.

The Council agreed to the current proposed composition of the WTO appellate body.

The Council had a further discussion of a draft for a new TACIS—Technical Assistance for the Commonwealth of Independent States—regulation. COREPER was tasked to carry out further work and the Foreign Affairs Council will consider the issue again on 4 December.

Only one vote was taken—that on EU-central and eastern European agricultural trade.

The EU-Nepal co-operation agreement and the EU-Israel association agreement were signed in the margins of the Council. There were also meetings with the Foreign Ministers of the EEA and of Cyprus and Malta, in the context of the structured dialogue.

I should also like to take this opportunity to record that at a special meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on 10 November the Council reached agreement on an EU-Morocco association agreement.