HC Deb 15 December 1998 vol 322 c454W
Mr. Rammell

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the outcome of the Internal Market Council held in Brussels on 7 December 1998; and if he will make a statement. [63166]

Mr. Mandelson

My noble Friend the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness in Europe represented the UK at the Internal Market Council in Brussels on 7 December.

The Council discussed the draft directive on late payments, which would give companies across the EU a statutory right to interest on late payments, and a proposal for a multiannual programme to assist European tourism. The Presidency concluded that it had not been possible to reach political agreement on either proposal and that discussion would continue under the German Presidency.

The Presidency presented a report on taking forward the process of European economic reform agreed at the Cardiff Summit in June 1998. This will enable the Internal Market Council on 25 February to make a contribution to ECOFIN preparation of the Broad Economic Guidelines and help inform its own future single market work programme.

The Commission presented reports on the interim Single Market Scoreboard, which showed good progress in transposition of internal market directives, particularly in the UK, Luxembourg, Ireland and Spain; chemicals legislation; and a proposal for a directive to facilitate the development of an internal market in electronic commerce.

The Council reached unanimous political agreement on the extension of the 1985 Product Liability Directive to primary agricultural products and game; and on the Fourth Motor Insurance Directive, which will make it easier for victims of road accidents that take place in another member state to make an insurance claim. The Free Movement of Goods Regulation and Resolution were adopted, with the UK Presidency mentioned as the driving force behind the agreement.