HC Deb 17 June 1996 vol 279 cc321-3W
Mr. Duncan Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the outcome of the General Affairs Council and the intergovernmental conference ministerial meeting on 10 June. [33279]

Mr. David Davis

In accordance with the current policy of non-co-operation I withheld UK agreement from 17 measures where unanimity was required. I agreed to three others: signature of the EU-Slovenia agreement, a mandate for a new EU-Algeria agreement, and a joint action on Bosnia election monitoring. As a result, the only "A" points in document 7929/96 that were adopted were items 1 to 10 inclusive, which did not require unanimity, and item 26, Bosnia election monitoring. The single item in document 8047/96 was blocked. The documents will be placed in the Libraries of the House as soon as they are available. I argued strongly for early agreement on a framework for lifting the beef ban. While other Ministers and the Commission expressed their concern at the policy of non-co-operation, many urged the Commission to produce such a framework at the earliest possible date, and both the Commission and the Presidency made clear their commitment to work for an early agreement.

The Council had a further discussion of the MEDA regulation on aid to Mediterranean countries.

The Council discussed follow-up on the Barcelona Euro-Med conference on 27–28 November 1995.

The Presidency explored their ideas for an informal Euro-Med ministerial in Rome on 17 June. The Presidency also asked for approval of conclusions on Barcelona follow-up activity, but I made it clear that I could not agree these on beef ban non-co-operation grounds.

The Council discussed the middle east peace process and the Council asked the European political directors to take forward work in preparation for the Florence European Council.

The Presidency explained arrangements for the Florence European Council.

In a discussion on the former Yugoslavia, the Presidency and the Commission reported on their tour of the region. Carl Bildt, the EU's High Representative, briefed the Council on preparations for the Florence Peace Implementation Council.

The Council discussed Commission proposals for revision of the agricultural generalised scheme of preferences.

The Council discussed the draft EU-Canada action plan.

The Commission and the Presidency reported on preparations for the EU-US summit to be held on 12 June.

The council had an exchange of views on possible Euro-African summit.

A ministerial session of the IGC focused on external issues. On defence, Ministers discussed the implications for the IGC of the recent Berlin NATO ministerial meeting. Ministers also discussed general common foreign and security policy issues, the question of whether the Union should acquire legal personality, and questions of external economic competence.

The ministerial session was preceded by an exchange of views with representatives of the European Parliament.

President Menem of Argentina briefly addressed the Council on 10 June. The first EU-Mercosur-Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay-ministerial meeting was held in the margins of the GAC on 10 June.

On 11 June, there were meetings of the EU-Syria Co-operation Council and the European Economic Area Council.