HC Deb 18 February 1981 vol 999 cc138-9W
Mr. David Hunt

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council held on 16 and 17 February.

Sir Ian Gilmour

My hon. Friend the Minister for Trade and I represented the United Kingdom at the Council held on 17 February

The Council discussed contact between the Commission and the new United States Administration about United States energy price controls and trade problems affecting the chemicals and textiles sectors. The Commission reported that in addition to the decision by President Reagan to remove price controls on oil the United States authorities were giving consideration to bringing forward the deregulation of gas prices and the removal of controls on exports of naphtha. It had also undertaken to convey to United States industry the Community's concern about import surges. My hon. Friend the Minister for Trade stressed the seriousness of the problem as did Ministers representing a number of other member States. The Commission is to continue contacts with the American authorities and produce a written report for discussion at the next meeting of the Council on 16 and 17 March.

The Council expressed its regret at the Japanese response to its declaration of 25 November 1980 on trade relations with Japan and adopted a further statement referring to economic relations being one facet of the overall EC/Japan relationship, agreeing on the introduction of surveillance of imports of cars, colour television sets and tubes and certain machine tools, and foreshadowing discussion of trade with Japan at the next economic summit in Ottawa in July. The European Community's concern is to be conveyed to the Japanese authorities by the ambassadors of the Ten jointly with the head of the Commission delegation in Tokyo.

We considered whether the question of the Community's external fisheries agreements with Canada and the Faroes could be agreed in advance of a settlement of a revised CFP. I made it clear that we could not agree to the external agreements on their own.

The Council adopted a statement stressing the independence of the Community public service and inviting the Commission to submit a proposal on a revised method in the light of Council discussion and the staff's observations. The staff called off their industrial action.

We discussed the creation of additional posts in the Court of Justice for an eleventh judge and a 5th advocate general. No agreement on these posts was reached.

The Council did not reach any conclusion on the measures needed to adapt the 1980 EC/Yugoslavia Agreement to take account of Greece's accession to the Community. This will be discussed again at the Foreign Affairs Council in March. The question at issue is what arrangements should be made for trade between Yugoslavia and the Community in baby-beef.

The Council also discussed, without reaching any conclusion, the question of transit between Greece and the rest of the Community via Yugoslavia.

The Council agreed on the text of a regulation for the Community's programme of aid to non-associated developing countries.

Finally we discussed but did not reach agreement on a negotiating mandate for a voluntary restraint arrangement on Tunisian textiles for 1981. This question has now been referred back to the Committee of Permanent Representatives for further discussion.

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