HL Deb 04 December 2002 vol 641 cc110-1WA
Lord Harrison

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What more the United Kingdom and the European Union can do to promote the free trade area among the European Union's 12 partner countries bordering the Mediterranean; and whether they support political, social and economic reforms in the area, in conjunction with the removal of barriers in the agricultural and service sectors and the introduction of greater flexibility on rules of origin in the textile and clothing industries. [HL154]

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

The United Kingdom and European Union are actively promoting the Euro-Mediterranean Area through a series of initiatives which are complementary to the tariff dismantling and related arrangements covered by the EU's agreements with the Mediterranean partners. In particular, this Government firmly support greater flexibility in rules of origin by extending the system of pan-European cumulation to the Mediterranean area for textile, clothing and other processed products; and co-operation and exchange of information on trade in service. The UK will continue to press for further agricultural liberalisation benefiting the Mediterranean partners through the current WTO round of multilateral trade negotiations. The UK and EU have also underlined to Mediterranean partners the importance of liberalising trade among themselves, as well as making further structural and legislative reforms, as key actions in deepening the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area. These activities are supported by the MEDA programme, to which the UK is a major contributor.