HC Deb 01 November 1989 vol 159 cc203-6W
Mr. Burns

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish in theOfficial Report a statement of forthcoming business in the European Community Council of Ministers.

Mr. Maude

The Foreign Affairs Council meets on 6 November and again on 27–28 November. At the earlier meeting the Council will discuss progress in the Lomé renegotiation in the light of the outcome of the ACP/EC ministerial negotiating meeting in Luxembourg on 27–29 October. There will be a further ACP/EC ministerial negotiating meeting on the Lomé renegotiation towards the end of November in Brussels but dates have yet to be confirmed. A meeting of the EC/Egypt Co-operation Council will be held on 6 November in the margins of the FAC. Also on 6 November the FAC will consider proposals for further assistance to Poland and Hungary. The Council will discuss follow up to the Audio-Visual Conference which took place in Paris from 30 September to 2 October. The Council will consider the adoption of the Commission's proposals to renew generalised tariff preferences in 1990, to include Poland and Hungary in decisions for 1990 GSP schemes, subject to the Ministers' agreement to their inclusion in the GSP. The Council is also expected to discuss economic and monetary co-operation, and free movement of people. The FAC may also take stock of recent developments in its trade relations with third countries.

A further meeting of the FAC will be held on 27–28 November, when it will discuss preparations for the Strasbourg European Council and the future of the Communities relations with eastern Europe; a meeting of the EC/Yugoslavia Co-operation Council will take place in the margins of FAC. The Council may also discuss the Commission's draft negotiation mandate for second stage EC/GCC agreement. The Council is expected to discuss preparation for the 19 December EC/EFTA ministerial meeting. The ministerial meeting will review progress in recent discussions between the Commission and EFTA on closer economic co-operation. The Council will discuss the present state of play and prospects for the current round of multilateral trade negotiations taking place in Geneva under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Japanese cars and EC/US relations may also be considered.

The Telecommunications Council meets on 7 November when the Presidency is hoping to reach a common position on the ONP directive, the pan-European paging directive and recommendation and high definition television. Discussion is likely on liberalisation of telecom services, ONP directive and recommendation on pan-European radio paging, common action on HDTV in CCIR, external aspects of telecoms policy, use of ECU in European telecoms accounting, new R & D in broad band telecoms and postal Europe.

The Consumers Council on 9 November is expected to consider some key questions arising from the draft directive. The Presidency will seek member states' views in an orientation debate on the future of this proposal. Proposals for future representation of consumers at Community level (an oral communication from the Commission) will be presented orally. This may take the form of an informal lunch meeting. A draft Council resolution outlining future priorities will be considered and the Commission may also give an oral presentation of its three year future programme. The European home and leisure accident surveillance system (EH LASS) is also likely to be discussed at the Consumer Council on 9 November.

The Economic and Finance Council will meet on 13 November to discuss stage 1 of Economic and Monetary Union including the revised decisions on economic convergence and co-operation between the central banks of the member states. There will also be a discussion on the longer term, which will consider the report of the high level group and the Chancellor's paper on an alternative approach to that in the Delors report. The discussion of taxation of savings will focus on measures to combat tax evasion. ECOFIN is expected to discuss a further report on indirect taxation on rates and technical systems for both VAT and excise duties and on budgetary consequences. There will also be a discussion on, and the probable adoption of a draft directive co-ordinating regulations on insider dealing across the Community, thereby establishing standards and providing for collaboration in the exchange of relevant information.

The Health Council is scheduled to meet on 13 November. The agenda will include the tobacco labelling directive, which requires member states to introduce legislation to ensure that standardised health warnings are printed on packets of tobacco products: the tobacco tar yields directive, which sets a maximum limit of 15 mg of tar per cigarette by 1992 and 12 mg tar/cigarette by 1995; tobacco advertising directive, which concerns advertising of tobacco products in the press and by means of bills and posters. The directive places restrictions on the content of advertisements, and requires them to include health warnings. Also to be considered are the 2nd action against cancer programme 1990 to 1994. This continues and expands work carried out under the first cancer programme with the aim of reducing projected cancer mortality by 15 per cent. by the year 2000 through prevention campaigns, information, training and research. A solemn declaration on AIDS policy and conclusions on measures for the prevention of addiction and the care of drug addicts are expected. The Health Council will discuss a Presidency note urging meetings on a regular basis to discuss the problem of the movement of health professionals around the Community in view of the overall surplus of trained doctors and the shortage of nurses, and oral conclusions urging acceleration of work on European self-sufficiency in blood and blood products. The mutual recognition of pharmaceutical products will be discussed, in particular a note from the Presidency and possibly written conclusions on the current situation and problems and conclusions asking the Commission to report on developments so far and to make recommendations for future action to encourage the use of the European emergency health card. The question of a standard European number for calling emergency services will also be discussed.

The Industry Council meets on 14 November. The textiles sub-group will be looking at the effects of the Uruguay round, the setting up of a monitoring body or observatory to improve statistics on the sector and possibly an exercise to improve the transparency of state aids to this sector. The Council will discuss how the Community should respond to United States proposals to eliminate all state aid to shipbuilding by the end of 1991. Cars and HDTV are also likely to be discussed.

The Budget Council will meet on 14 November to consider the second reading of the 1990 draft budget and the amending letters.

The Agriculture Council will meet on 20 and 21 November to discuss the reform of the agricultural structures regulations and the cereals co-responsibility levy. It may also discuss milk quotas, veterinary checks, bovine somatotropin, and pigmeat.

The Development Council will meet on 21 November. The Council will adopt conclusions arising from an evaluation of Community aid to Asia and Latin America, the period 1976 to 1988, and will consider annual guidelines for the Community's aid programme to Asia and Latin America for 1990. The Council is expected to adopt a resolution on priorities and the future direction of the Community's food aid programme, and will adopt conclusions based on a Commission paper on the implementation of the Community's aid control programme. The Council will adopt conclusions on desertification based on a Commission paper on action taken in this field since 1986, and will have a free-ranging discussion on other environmental issues, specifically the management and conservation of tropical forests. The council will also review progress on the current renegotiation of the Lomé convention.

The Internal Market Council on 23 November will discuss a number of measures relevant to the completion of the single market.

The Fisheries Council will meet on 27 November to discuss prices, inspection and surveillance, processing and marketing of fisheries products and possibly EC/ Greenland and EC/USSR relations and 1990 TACS and quotas.

The Environment Council is scheduled to meet on 28 November. The Presidency is hoping for a political agreement on the terms of reference for a European environment agency to co-ordinate and analyse environmental information from existing national and regional networks for Commission and member states' use. There is likely to be a detailed discussion of the proposal concerning the protection of habitats and of wild fauna and flora and an attempt to resolve some of the outstanding difficulties. Early exchanges of views are expected on the proposal to protect waters from nitrate pollution and on the proposal to guarantee the public freedom of access to data on the environment.

The Social Affairs Council is due to meet on 30 November, when Ministers will discuss health and safety directives on work place requirements, work equipment and personal protective equipment. In the field of vocational training the Council will also discuss Eurotech II, and the medium term guidelines for education and training the Community. The establishment of a employment observatory may also be discussed.

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