HC Deb 26 July 1999 vol 336 cc144-6W
Mr. Hood

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the outcome of the General Affairs Council held in Brussels on 19 and 20 July; and if he will make a statement. [92707]

Ms Quin

1. The General Affairs Council in Brussels on 19 July 1999 adopted the A points listed in document 10103/99. Copies of the documents listing the A points will be placed in the Library as soon as they become available.

Open Debate

2. The GAC had a wide-ranging exchange of views in public session on lessons from Kosovo for the EU's external relations. They agreed that more needed to be done to improve the effectiveness and consistency of EU responses to international crises. An important first step should be to make sure the new CFSP structures introduced by the Amsterdam Treaty worked.

Presidency Presentation on Procedure

3. The Council noted the Presidency's plans for taking forward preparatory discussions for the Inter-Governmental Conference.

Middle East Peace Process

4. The GAC agreed conclusions welcoming the new government in Israel and looking forward to further developments in the Middle East Peace Process. The GAC hoped that the forthcoming visit to the region by the Presidency, Commission and EU special envoy would further enhance ties with the region.


5. The GAC was joined over lunch by Javier Solana, appointed Secretary-General of the Council and High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy by the European Council at Vienna. He looked forward to starting his new post in late October or November, and outlined key areas for immediate work, including ways of strengthening CFSP and implementing the Common Strategy on Russia.

WTO/New Round: Commission Communication

6. The Commission presented a Communication on the proposed new trade Round. The General Affairs Council will return to the subject in October.

Western Balkans

  1. 7. The GAC welcomed the appointment of Mr. Bernard Kouchner as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General. It stressed the urgency of setting up an international civilian presence in Kosovo. It gave political agreement to a Regulation setting up a European Agency for Reconstruction.
  2. 8. The GAC examined the EU sanctions regime and agreed that measures affecting the Serb people rather than the Belgrade regime would be the first to be lifted. They agreed to examine ways to alleviate the situation of democratic bodies in the FRY. They affirmed that parties competing in elections in the FRY should not have anyone convicted or indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia as candidates.
  3. 9. The GAC welcomed plans for the Stability Pact summit in Sarajevo on 30 July and heard a presentation by Mr. Bodo Hombach, EU Special Representative and Co-ordinator of the Pact.
  4. 10. The GAC welcomed the informal political dialogues to be held on 20 July with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, and decided to consider the creation of EU/Croatia consultative task force. It agreed with the Commission that it would be feasible to envisage opening negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Macedonia.

East Timor

11. The GAC discussed East Timor and reiterated its strong support for the UN-organised consultation process which enables the East Timorese people to express their views as to the future of the territory.


12. The GAC discussed ways of improving procedures for the financing of twinning projects.

Nomination of the Commission

13. The GAC approved Member States' formal nomination for the new Commission.

European Conference

14. The third meeting of the European Conference took place on 19 July, attended by Foreign Ministers of EU Member States, Central and Eastern European candidate countries, Cyprus, Malta and Switzerland. Discussion focused on the Western Balkans, looking at the way forward and lessons to be learned from the Kosovo crisis. The Conference also agreed conclusions on combating transnational organised crime.

Co-operation Councils with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

The first Co-operation Councils with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan were held on 20 July, following the entry into force of their Partnership and Co-operation Agreements with the EU on 1 July.