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Foreign Affairs Council

Volume 978: debated on Thursday 7 February 1980

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asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council held on 5 February.

My right hon. and noble Friend, accompanied by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade, and my hon. Friend, the Minister of Trade, represented the United Kingdom at this Council.There were further discussion of the Community aspects of East/West relations following Afghanistan. The Commission outlined action taken over subsidised food exports to the Soviet Union in accordance with the decisions of the 15 January Council. It was also agreed that so far as export credit to the Soviet Union was concerned member States would observe without derogation the current OECD consensus.In political co-operation the Foreign Ministers of the Nine agreed to develop a joint position on reactions to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, with a view to decisions by Ministers at their meeting in political co-operation in Rome on 19 February.The Commission presented a report on imports of United States synthetic textiles concluding that there is no case at present for Community-wide action but at the same time acknowledging that difficulties exist in certain regions, notably the United Kingdom. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade is providing further information in reply to a written question from my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Trippier).The United Kingdom strongly supported a proposed ad hoccontribution to supplement the ECSC budget for 1980. This would take account of the need for Community financial assistance with the problems of steel closures. We hope this can be agreed at the next Foreign Affairs Council.The Commission reported on the considerable progress made since the January Council in negotiations with Yugoslavia for a new agreement with the Community.There was a meeting of the Association Council with Turkey where both sides welcomed the resumption of contacts at ministerial level and emphasised the major political importance they attached to the Association Agreement.There was a ministerial level meeting in the accession negotiations with Portugal.The Council heard a report on the Community's relations with the Gulf States and will continue to study this.Agreement was reached in principle to co-operate in studying the management and storage of radioactive waste and that it was in the interests of the Community to keep open the option of reprocessing spent fuel and of using fast reactors. The final text of the resolutions will be available shortly.

No final decision was reached on the funding for the joint research centre and the fusion programme, but it appears that matters are now moving towards a satisfactory conclusion.