HC Deb 09 July 2002 vol 388 cc815-7W
Mr. Hood

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the outcome was of the General Affairs Council held on 17 and 18 June; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [67731]

Peter Hain

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary attended the June meeting of the General Affairs Council.

The Council took note of the resolutions, decisions and opinions adopted by the European Parliament at its May part sessions in Strasbourg and Brussels (Documents 9076–02 and 9316–02).

The Council adopted the 'A' points listed in Document 9830–02.

Copies of these documents have been placed in the Library of the House.

Progress of work in other council configurations

The Council took note of work under way in other configurations of the Council on the basis of a presidency progress report, in particular noting the importance of the political agreement reached on the 'pension funds directive', as well as the final adoption of the Framework Decision on the European arrest warrant.

Preparation of the Seville European Council

The Council discussed measures to prepare the Council for enlargement. on the basis of a report by the presidency and the Council Secretary-General. This set out proposals for consideration by the Seville European Council on the preparation. organisation and conduct of the European Council, the structure of Council formations, improvements to the functioning of the presidency and greater transparency in the Council's legislative activity. The UK supported the broad direction of the Presidency's proposals.

The Council discussed the EU's strategy in preparation for the World summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg. The Council agreed on the need for the EU to continue to be proactive, to show leadership and to take initiatives to contribute to a successful outcome at the summit. The UK strongly agreed. The Council agreed Conclusions setting out the EU's position, to be forwarded to the Seville European Council.

The Council took note of the contributions submitted to the Seville European Council by the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 13 June and discussed several aspects of immigration policy, in preparation for discussion at Seville. The debate focused in particular on how to co-operate with third countries against illegal immigration.

In discussion of enlargement, the Council reached agreement on a framework for handling the issue of direct payments which will be incorporated in the EU common positions on agriculture. This noted that, In accordance with the timeframe agreed in Goteborg and Laeken, this decision [on direct payments] will be taken in due time to comply with the steps and timetable to be agreed in the Seville European Council in relation with the final phase of the enlargement negotiations, and without prejudging the forthcoming internal discussions on Community policies.

Middle East

Over lunch, Ministers discussed recent developments in the Middle East and the way ahead, in preparation for further discussion at Seville.


Over lunch, Ministers discussed the tensions between India and Pakistan. While welcoming recent improvements, they noted that the situation nevertheless remained precarious.

EU Special Representatives—Afghanistan

The Council agreed on the nomination of Francesc Vendrell as the next EU Special Representative for Afghanistan to succeed Klaus-Peter Klaiber, whose mandate expires on 30 June 2002.


The Council approved a general framework for the financing of EU operations having military or defence implications. This framework covers two types of costs: common costs, i.e. costs that cannot be allotted to individual states taking part in an operation. This covers a number of costs for headquarters for EU-led operations (e.g. transport costs. administration, communications, transportation/travel, barracks and lodging/infrastructure) and for supporting the operational force as a whole (such as infrastructure); all other costs, which will be considered individual and financed on a 'costs-lie where they fall' basis.

The Council agreed to decide on a case-by-case basis whether transportation of the forces, barracks and lodging for the forces would be funded in common.

A full review of this framework will take place after a first operation is concluded or by June 2004, or earlier if necessary, taking into account the lessons learnt from conduct of any operations and their administration.


The Council adopted Conclusions restating its support for the process of reform in Iran and its willingness to strengthen relations between the EU and Iran. The Council reached political agreement on negotiating directives for a trade and co-operation agreement with Iran, which would be linked to separate instruments on political dialogue and counter-terrorism. The Council stressed that the launching of negotiations and progress in matters of concern, such as human rights, nonproliferation and counter-terrorism, will contribute to strengthening dialogue and co-operation. The Union sees progress in all these areas as interdependent, indissociable and mutually reinforcing elements of the EU's overall approach to EU-Iran relations.

Western Balkans

The Council heard presentations from High Representative Solana on the implementation of the Serbia and Montenegro agreement and from EU Special Representative Le Roy on the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It adopted Conclusions: welcoming progress in implementing the Serbia and Montenegro agreement; recalling the importance of the FRY's international obligations, including to the ICTY; supporting UNMIK's work in Kosovo and its co-operation with Macedonia on the 2001 border agreement; underlining the importance of a free and fair election campaign in Macedonia. The Council thanked the departing Bosnia High Representative, Ambassador Wolfgang Petritsch, for his efforts and congratulated Lord Ashdown on taking up his functions as new High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Council welcomed the fact that the work on the negotiating mandate for a stabilisation and association agreement with Albania had been concluded. The mandate will be adopted and negotiations opened after the summer, depending on further progress on the reform agenda and political stability.


The Council adopted Conclusions expressing deep concern at the deterioration of the situation. The European Union believes that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has an important role to play and will seek to build an enhanced dialogue with the SADC and other relevant international actors.

International Criminal Court (ICC)

The Council adopted Conclusions, recalling its Common Position on the ICC and welcoming the forthcoming entry into force of the ICC statute on 1 July. The EU expressed its concern about the draft US legislation which would restrict US participation in UN peacekeeping operations, prohibit transfer of information to the ICC or prohibit US military assistance to parties to the ICC.

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