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European Council (Venice Meeting)

Volume 986: debated on Monday 16 June 1980

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With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement on the meeting of the European Council which my noble Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, and I attended in Venice on 12 and 13 June. The summary of the proceedings issued by the Italian Presidency has been placed in the Library of the House.

The Venice meeting was a series of general discussions between the nine Heads of Government about the fundamental problems that we all face within the Community and outside. We had in mind the need to prepare a common European view for the economic summit that is to be held next Sunday and Monday.

All the nations of the European Community have similiar problems of inflation and unemployment and a number now have an adverse balance of payments. We were agreed that the major short-term objective must be to contain inflation by means of appropriate monetary and fiscal policies. We were concerned that the 100 per cent. increase in the price of oil over the past year would lead to a recession in world trade. We were therefore disturbed at the pressure for further oil price increases at the recent Algiers meeting of OPEC. Such an increase can only make worse the economic problems of the industrialised countries and give rise to intolerable burdens for the developing countries. The European Community remains willing to enter into a dialogue with the oil producers.

Having noted the budgetary settlement reached by the Council of Ministers at the end of May, the Heads of Government had a useful, but necessarily preliminary, discussion of the need to put in hand and carry through urgently a review of the Community's financial position. We also took the opportunity to have a first, informal, discussion about the choice of the next President of the Commission.

The European Council issued three declarations, on the Lebanon, on Afghanistan, and on the Middle East. With permission, all three texts will be circulated in the Official Report. Those on the Lebanon and on Afghanistan reaffirmed the concern felt by the Heads of Government about the position in the two countries.

The declaration on the Middle East restates the two principles that have for many years been the basis of the European position : the right of all the States in the region, including Israel, to existence and security; and justice for all the peoples, which implies the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. A comprehensive settlement requires that all the parties concerned should be bound by these principles.

Beyond that, the European Council decided to make contact with all the parties in order to ascertain their position
"with respect to the principles set out in this declaration, and in the light of the result of this consultation process to determine the form which an initiative on their part"—
that is on the part of the Nine—
"might take."
The diplomatic activity that the Nine will undertake over the next few months is intended to be complementary to the Camp David process on which the United States, Egypt and Israel are still engaged. We hope and believe that in this way the Nine can contribute to the work that will have to be done to prepare for a peace settlement in the Middle East.

On the general economic situation and the summit that is to be held on Sunday and Monday, the right hon. Lady's statement is extremely thin and inadequate. Are we to take it that the European Community is going to the economic summit with the view that, because of the increase in oil prices, deflation must be accepted because growth is to be put to one side; the debt problems of the Third world—mounting problems, which are seriously affecting its development—are not to be considered and that action is not to be taken on them; and that unemployment in the Western world as a whole cannot be overcome? If so, that is a grave departure from the attitude that has been taken on these questions at previous summits, when positive policies have been put forward, in some instances very successfully.

It seems from what the right hon. Lady said that all that the Community is going to the summit for is to complain that oil prices have been increased and that therefore there is nothing that it can do about those problems. That is totally inadequate.

Secondly, the President's statement is apposite to our position at home. It refers to the disturbing level of unemployment among young people and calls—this is where it is apposite to the Prime Minister's policies—for short-term measures in the context of an active employment policy. How does the right hon. Lady propose to reconcile her signature to that statement with her attitude and policy on the cuts in the Manpower Services Commission finance, which the MSC says will render it incapable of carrying out its responsibilities? As the right hon. Lady put her name to the text, when does she propose to bring before the House measures that will help to overcome the problem of unemployment in this country?

Thirdly, there is a series of laudable statements to which we can all say "Amen" but which do not really carry us very much further on the financial position of the Community and other things. The only real issue on which there is any precision and any sharp edge is the Middle East. It would have been very much better if the Council had been much less sharp. All that it has done by its statement on the Middle East is to encourage Mr. Begin in his unwise and illegal policy on the settlements, to give a boost to the PLO, which said that it would destroy Israel, and to embarrass the United States in its efforts. If that is the sort of initiative to which the statesmen of Europe are committing themselves, I say that it would be far better if they kept quiet.

The right hon. Lady referred to the two principles that have been the basis of the European position. It seems that a third principle has been introduced, namely, that the Palestinian people must be placed in a position to exercise fully their right to self-determination. That is a change of British policy. Does it mean that there is to be in the right hon. Lady's policy a new independent State in the Middle East, which under the right of self-determination can be fully armed on the borders of Israel, Syria and Jordan? [HON. MEMBERS : "Why not?"] Is that the policy of the British Government? If that is so, I can only say to the right hon. Lady and to anybody who says "Why not?", that they are creating another powder keg in the Middle East. The sooner that that is recognised the better.

What is the right hon. Lady's policy on self-determination and the creation of another independent self-armed State? Of course there are rights for the Palestinian people, but what has been happening, and what has Europe fallen for? Europe's motives are suspect as long as it is so concerned about oil. Both protagonists are always trying to line up allies. The PLO has won a propaganda victory by lining up the Europeans to give it a boost the week after it said that it was going to destroy Israel. That cannot contribute to peace in the Middle East. It would have been far better if Europe had said that it would support the discussions that are now to take place between King Hussein of Jordan and President Carter and had tried to involve the other Arab States in those talks rather than going out with new principles about self-determination that will only add to the difficulties in the Middle East.

First, with regard to the right hon. Gentleman's question on the economy, instead of having detailed discussions on particular aspects we spent several hours having a general discussion on all of the things that I have included. We discussed inflation. Of course people were concerned about unemployment and adverse balance of payments. Those topics and the energy debate were wrapped up into one.

Some of the right hon. Gentleman's former colleagues, my present colleagues, made the point vigorously that these summit meetings were never meant to end in detailed statements on a number of issues. They were meant, first, to be general discussions in a quite private atmosphere between Heads of Government as they met. It was some time before the habit arose of issuing very detailed communiqués.

The right hon. Gentleman will have observed, if he has read the presidential statement, that each and every one of us did not put our signature to the presidential statement. It states that
"It was not discussed in detail by the European Council itself except section 7 on energy."
It was a general presidential statement. The only parts that were discussed in detail were the statement on energy and the three declarations on the Lebanon, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Most of my colleagues thought that this had been an unusually successful meeting and that we had spent a lot of time on genuine and general discussion on the problems without trying to come to artificial communiqué results on many things that would repeat previous communiqué statements. Of course we are concerned about the problems of unemployment, inflation and adverse balance of payments, We cannot trot out immediate and quick replies.

The right hon. Gentleman went on to express a little disappointment about the financial position in the Community. We confirmed the budget settlement that had previously been reached. It will, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, take quite a long time to get a new structural change on the budget. The earliest that it can be expected is July next year, and most of us think that that will be a little bit soon, bearing in mind that the Commission changes and that there will be a number of other things happening between now and then.

The right hon. Gentleman reserved his main criticism for the statement on the Middle East. I remind him that in the declaration of the European Council in June 1977, to which he, I believe, put his signature, the Council stated that
"The Nine have affirmed their belief that a solution to the conflict in the Middle East will be possible only if the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to give effective expression to their national identity is translated into fact, which would take into account the need for a homeland for the Palestinian people."
No one said to the right hon. Gentleman "Precisely what do you mean by a homeland?" because we knew that there would be no quick answer to that point. However, he and all other Heads of Government have accepted for a very long time at the European Council that if one people expects to exist behind secure boundaries it cannot deny that right to another people. What one asks for oneself one must be prepared to accord to others. That is exactly what we are saying.

We have put into the communiqué for the first time the phrase "self-determination". I accept that. What was previously in a declaration given to the United Nations by the Irish Foreign Minister on behalf of the Nine was a slightly different wording. With respect, it did not mean anything very different. It said :
"The Palestinian people are entitled within the framework set by a peace settlement to exercise their right to determine their own future as a people."
With respect, that is not really very different from self-determination. We have also said very firmly that it is in the interest of putting an end to violence that the Nine consider that
"only the renunciation of force or the threatened use of force by all parties can create a climate of confidence in the area."
We have also said that the two principles—that each accepts the right of the other to live in peace behind secure boundaries—are binding on all parties to the negotiations. I thought that in the communiqué we had covered just about everything that one expects to cover if one is expecting to accord to others the very things that one demands for oneself in living in peace behind secure boundaries.

Finally, in response to what the right hon. Gentleman said, we made it clear that we believe in the future of the Camp David process and regard this as supplementary to it. I believe that that is a true assessment of the situation.

First, the right hon. Lady correctly says that she did not put her signature to the document. Does she agree with the summary by the Presidency of the proceedings of the European Council—that is what its heading is—which states that there is an

"increasingly disturbing employment situation, particularly as regards young people, there was reaffirmation of the priority need…for short-term structural measures in the context of an active employment policy"?
Does she agree with that? If she agrees with it, is she going to bring forward measures that will ensure that there is an active employment policy?

Secondly, on the question of the Middle East, the right hon. Lady knows as well as I do how words are studied in that area. The European Council has gone further than has been gone before. The 1977 statement, to which I adhere, took place before Camp David. I do not make much of that. However, it was an important step on the way.

It is clear that there is an evolving situation in which the position of the Palestinians has to be taken carefully into account. What the Europeans are doing by this initiative is cutting across much of what has been going on so far. It would be far better to involve King Hussein privately in these matters and to have negotiations with him rather than to come out with a declaration of this sort.

I can only say to the right hon. Lady that if she is giving her support, as she apparently is, to the creation of an independent State in this part of the world, with all the full rights of an independent State, she is going along with a process that President Giscard d'Estaing initiated and she should not have done so. President Giscard does not support the Camp David process, and never did.

With regard to the latter point, the right hon. Gentleman is trying to put words into my mouth.

The words in the communiqué I support entirely. They concern the right of the Palestinian people to determine their own future. If one wishes to call that" self-determination". I shall not quarrel with it. I am interested that the right hon. Gentleman appears to be attempting to deny that right. I do not understand how anyone can demand a right for people on one side of a boundary and deny it to people on the other side of that boundary. That seems to deny certain rights, or to allocate them with discrimination from one person to another.

I know, of course, that communiqués are looked at in detail. I looked in detail at the right hon. Gentleman's communiqué, because it was the first time that the phrases "national identity" and "a homeland" had been used, but I hope that at no time did I try to embarrass anyone genuinely seeking a settlement by trying to define it more closely than that.

We are all determined not to undermine the Camp David process and to try to do something positive to assist a genuine settlement in the Middle East. If we do not get one, it will be disastrous for the whole Western world.

With regard to the right hon. Gentleman's points about unemployment, of course we were all concerned about unemployment. As he knows, some countries have a higher rate of unemployment than we have. Of course, we were all concerned about the prospects for young people. In fact, the presidential statement was more detailed than the actual discussion. Each and every one of us accepts that we should try to do everything possible to alleviate the unemployment position, especially for young people. But we are not prepared to print money to do it.

The right hon. Lady—[Interruption]. We have had a totally unsatisfactory statement from the Prime Minister, and, if Mr. Speaker allows, I propose to pursue it.

I shall leave the question of the Middle East, because it is bound to be followed up in other ways, but on unemployment in this country the right hon. Lady gives general assent to short-term measures to relieve it. Does she intend bringing measures before this House?

We already have short-term measures to relieve unemployment. That is exactly what some of the short-time working subsidies are. They give very wide opportunities to young people under the present youth opportunities programme being operated by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Israelis conquered the West Bank from Jordan and that, under resolution 242, it is therefore with Jordan that the Israelis should negotiate their withdrawal? Is it not therefore for the Jordan Government to decide to what extent the PLO should be associated with the negotiations? Why is it for the European Governments to nominate this terrorist organisation as a valid negotiator in the transaction that is to come?

I think that my right hon. Friend is asking me what is the specific legal position about the land on the West Bank. Only two countries recognise the land of the West Bank as belonging to Jordan. One is ourselves, and the other is Pakistan. The other States have not precisely determined the legal position of that land; nor has the United Nations. We accept that the land of the West Bank legally belongs to Jordan, and so does Pakistan.

My right hon. Friend asked whether it was not therefore for the negotiations to be with King Hussein. As my right hon. Friend knows, King Hussein has indicated that he will negotiate with the Arab States as a whole, and that is his right. The Arab States as a whole have gone very much further than the Leader of the Opposition or I or most people in this country could go, by recognising the PLO as the sole representatives of the Palestinian people. We have not done that, and we could not do that, but we believe that the reality of the situation is that there will not be a comprehensive settlement in this area unless the PLO is associated with it.

Is the Prime Minister aware that it has been widely reported that, for once, she and President Giscard d'Estaing were agreed in rejecting the candidacy for the Presidency of the Commission of Gaston Thorn not on the ground of his ability or of the size of his country but because he was too Community-minded? Will the Prime Minister, who is known for her blunt speaking, give the House an unequivocal assurance that she is anxious to see as president of the new Commission someone who will press enthusiastically for greater European integration?

The hon. Gentleman is not right in assuming that that candidacy has been rejected; it has certainly not. There is more than one candidate, and more than one very good candidate. Because we did not come to a unanimous decision, which would have been unlikely on the first discussion, we shall discuss the matter further.

Will my right hon. Friend say to what extent she and her colleagues found agreement on how to handle the very large sums of money flowing into the oil-producing countries? Was there general agreement that this could not be resolved in a purely European context but required wide financial and economic meetings between countries, including Japan, which are dependent on the oil suppliers, and meetings of the developing countries to which the funds generated by oil are so very important?

Most of our discussions on that subject were preliminary to the wider economic summit that takes place next Sunday and Monday. If I may put it this way, we felt that whatever recycling arrangements might be proposed, whether through private banks or international institutions, recycling was not enough, because some of the developing countries can no longer afford to go on borrowing money. They really need more grants from some of the OPEC countries, whose very considerable increases have imposed intolerable burdens on some Third world countries.

Is the Prime Minister aware that many besides the Leader of the Opposition will be alarmed at the spectacle of the Western European nations preparing to interfere, if only verbally, in the Levant, upon the basis of principles that are at best ambiguous and at worst deliberately contradictory?

I accept that they lack the right hon. Gentleman's specific clarity. Because we have gone on for a long time talking about the right of peoples to decide their own future, and because the options have never been worked out and put to the several parties and the many different representatives of the Palestine people, so we have gone on using vague terms such as "homeland", "national identity" and "self-determination". We thought that it was time someone went round and discussed with the parties precisely what these principles were likely to mean in practice and precisely what the options were. There will be nothing vague about the process, but I think that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that a great deal has been vague about the terms that have been used in the past. We are trying to seek clarification of those on the basis that all the parties concerned accept as binding, right from the outset, the principles enunciated in the communiqué.

As this was the first summit following the very tough budget negotiations, can my right hon. Friend say that the EEC now has momentum again and can carry on with many of the necessary jobs ahead of it in the coming year?

From the financial viewpoint, it was an unusually friendly meeting, which will, I believe, free us to take a greater part on the world stage. I believe that, in view of the increasing tensions on the West Bank, we were right to take the view that we could not just leave this part of the world alone. We must try to do what we can to supplement the Camp David process.

Will the right hon. Lady find some way of informing hon. Members on both sides of the House—the media in this country are so irresponsible and partisan—that, as Mr. Yasser Arafat said to me and to the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) the right hon. Lady's colleague—

I would have thought that this was a matter of some concern upon which the peace of the world depends. That is the sort of silly, snide comment to be expected from the pro-Zionists in the House. As Mr. Yasser Arafat said to me and to the right hon. Lady's colleague the hon. Member for Canterbury, at a meeting in the small hours of the morning, about 10 or 12 days ago in Beirut, the significance of the outcome of the congress was not the reiteration of the ritualistic phraseology about Zionism, which is perfectly understandable, because that is a racialist dogma, but that the A1 Fatah congress, meeting for the first time in nine years, had entirely endorsed every resolution of the Palestinian National Council—its Parliament in exile—including that which accepted, or was willing to accept, a part of Palestine as its State. That, by implication, can only mean an acceptance of Israel. It is a pity that more of our parliamentary colleagues do not understand that simple point.

The hon. Gentleman made many comments. I could not possibly accept the description of Zionism that he gave. I cannot possibly accept what he says about Zionism. Mr. Yasser Arafat and the PLO must accept the right of Israel to exist behind secure boundaries. The Al Fatah statement to which the hon. Gentleman referred contained many things that none of us could possibly accept. If these negotiations are to get anywhere with any of the parties, just as the Israeli people will have to accept the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people so the Palestinian people, including the PLO, will have to accept Israel's right to exist behind secure boundaries and be prepared to guarantee those boundaries.

Will my right hon. Friend accept warm congratulations for the part that she played in this evidently constructive meeting? Can she give an assurance that oil-rich Britain will now play a forward part in ensuring that the EEC develops policies for meeting the grave North-South crisis caused largely by the actions of the oil-producing countries?

I accept that there is a grave North-South crisis and that part of that crisis is attributable to the sharp increase in the price of oil, which has gone up more than tenfold over the last eight years. Although the increases cause immense difficulties for the industrialised countries, they cause intolerable burdens for the poverty-stricken countries, which are approaching financial crisis. We are extremely worried about how the revenues from OPEC oil will be recycled this time. This will be more difficult than on previous occasions. We shall certainly expect to play a constructive part ourselves. It was with a view to deciding what we should say next week that we spent such a long time on this aspect of the problem in Venice.

In view of the fact that the PLO, only last week, once again reiterated its intention and desire to obliterate the State of Israel, and in view of the fact that the establishment now, of an entirely independent State would put the PLO in a position to do exactly that, is the right hon. Lady not concerned to help the Camp David agreement? That agreement envisages autonomy for the Palestinians that not only could, but would, develop into a Palestinian State after a period of time.

The hon. Gentleman began by referring to the PLO statement last week. I made clear that part of the statement of the Nine said that the two principles, namely, the right of Israel to exist behind secure boundaries and the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people—I quote from the communiqué that we all signed—are

"binding on all the parties concerned, and thus the Palestinian people, and on the PLO, which will have to be associated with the negotiations."
It is clear that unless those two principles are accepted as binding there would, and could, be no settlement at all.

Did my right hon. Friend and her colleagues discuss the urgent necessity of expressing the clearest and most concentrated abhorrence of the appalling atrocities in Afghanistan? Does she agree that there is a case for the West acting in concert and applying the same sort of sanctions as those applied against Iran?

We issued a separate statement on Afghanistan, which made the point that we abhor totally the atrocities and the continued invasion of Afghanistan by the Russians. I think that sanctions against Russia would not secure the objective that my hon. Friend seeks. That is one of the facts that one has to face. We must go about the matter through diplomatic action and decide what we shall do later in the year if the invasion persists and the number of Russian troops in Afghanistan remains of the same order.

Is the right hon. Lady aware that many of us who want to see the State of Israel live within secure borders and who have long been her friends are very disturbed with the policies of the present Government in Israel. They are not helping the situation. At the same time, we want to see the Palestinian people with a State of their own. We do not feel that the so-called initiative coming from the Heads of the European Common Market countries is the best way to deal with the situation.

Is the right hon. Lady aware that some of us feel that it would be far better, acting together with the United States, which is very much involved, to try to reach an agreement and then to get the Soviet Union to help to make certain that such an agreement was carried out?

I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman that that would be the best way forward. I would, however, accept—as I hope most people would accept—that what we really wish to achieve is a settlement in this area, believing that this would be in the interests of the Israeli people there, of the Arab people there, and of the whole of the Western world. We believe that we have taken a small constructive step along that path, in conjunction with our American friends, who are continuing to follow up the Camp David agreement.

Order. I propose to call four more hon. Members from either side. That will be a very fair run.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there will be a widespread welcome for the accord that she announced today and pleasure that the EEC is at least prepared to look to the future in the Middle East, where many of us believe there will never be peace unless and until the Palestinians have their own State? Is not trying to discuss the future of the Middle East without the Palestinians as useful as trying to discuss the future of the laws of cricket without consulting the MCC? Will my right hon. Friend devote to this problem the same energy and, we hope, the same success as she devoted to solving the problem in Zimbabwe, with people inevitably and rightly determining their own future.

I am afraid that this problem will take a considerable time to solve. I do not think it helps if we try to go too quickly and to conclude that there would be an independent Palestinian State. I would not necessarily conclude that myself. There are a number of other possibilities. It is for the people there—along with the European initiative—to indicate how they see the options and how they would react to them and then, as the last phrase of the communiqué states

"in the light of the results of this consultation process to determine the form which an initiative on their part could take."
It seems to me to be an example of the fact that time spent on reconnaissance and on trying to clarify principles is seldom wasted.

Will the right hon. Lady confirm that the conversations that she is reported to have had with the French President about the New Hebrides took place? There seems to be a discrepancy between what the press reports say about the conversations that she has had and the information being given by her right hon. Friends in the Foreign Office. Can she tell us anything about those reports concerning the New Hebrides?

I spoke to the French President about the position in the New Hebrides, and my hon. Friend the Minister of State will shortly be making a statement about them. I pointed out that we had agreed that we would act jointly in pursuance of our duties there, and that when the French sent the armed gendarmes we believed that we were acting fully within our obligations in sending the Marines. As the French sent armed gendarmes and we have no armed police, we sent the Marines. We believe that that was joint action, and it is our wish to continue to act jointly.

Will my right hon. Friend accept that this House uniquely understands Germany's unhappiness at the prospect of having to make a net contribution of £1 billion to the Community? Will she make available to Chancellor Schmidt her expertise in this region, so that together they can bring about a restructuring of the finances of the Community?

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. We were to have been the largest net contributor this year, and we know exactly what it felt like to have that obligation placed upon us. Germany, although a very much richer country, per head, than we are, now has that obligation. We are still the second largest contributor, although a long way behind Germany, and France is behind us in contributions. The other countries are net beneficiaries, and some of them are very much wealthier, per head, than those that are making the contributions. Herein lies the need to restructure the budget.

It has always seemed to me to be quite absurd that we should be making extensive contributions to quite wealthy countries in Europe when the real need in the world is to help those who are suffering from considerable poverty.

Reverting to Palestine, may I ask whether the Prime Minister realises that by seeking to equate the rights of Israeli citizens with the rights of Palestinians she is seeking to equate what cannot be so equated and begging the question whether the Palestinians have, in international law, a proper case to be recognised as a State?

Does she not recognise that however important the diplomatic role of the European Council may be it does not have a legislative role that can prescribe in international law whether it is appropriate for the Palestinians' aspirations to statehood to be recognised?

Does the right hon. Lady not recognise, also, that by admitting that she is not sure whether statehood is the appropriate end-point for the Palestinians she is contradicting the communiqué, which recognises what it calls the right of self-determination, in the light of the fact that it has been categorically asserted so often that statehood is what the Palestinians seek?

I think that the hon. Gentleman—and possibly a number of other hon. Members—are making great distinctions without a difference. The word "homeland" has been used for quite a long time in connection with the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. The two principles have been expressed for a very long time. If the hon. Gentleman had listened carefully he would have heard the difference. May I read out the text again? It says that

"the time has come to promote the recognition and implementation of the two principles universally accepted by the international community : the right to existence and to security of all the states in the region, including Israel, and justice for all the peoples, which implies the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people."
Other communiqués have gone on to define those legitimate rights in terms of national identity, and words such as "homeland". We have gone on to say that
"The Palestinian people, which is conscious of existing as such, must be placed in a position, by an appropriate process defined within the framework of the comprehensive peace settlement, to exercise fully its right to self-determination."
I should have thought that it was very difficult to quarrel with that if the result is that we get a comprehensive settlement within the region as a whole. I stress again that there can never be a settlement unless both the Palestinian people and the Israeli people recognise each other's rights and the right to continue to exist securely.

Will my right hon. Friend comment on the question of the enlargement of the Community by the admission of Spain and Portugal—a matter on which earlier statements by the French President have cast some doubt? Will she confirm that this question was discussed at the summit? Is she now satisfied that there is an absolute commitment in principle to their membership, and that, in practice, no delays or obstacles will be put in the way of the early accession of those two nations?

We did no more than mention it in passing. We did not discuss it. I make clear that we take the view that we wish to go ahead with negotiations for the admission of Spain and Portugal. I do not wish there to be any doubt about that.

Were the proposals of the Brandt Commission considered? If so, what consideration has been given to the commission's proposals for a summit?

Does the right hon. Lady not think that if we are to have statements about foreign affairs coming from the EEC Commission it would be better to debate them first in the House of Commons, so that the views of the House were known?

We did not agree that there should be what is called a Brandt summit. As the hon. Gentleman will gather from what I have said, we discussed a number Of things that concerned the Brandt report.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many will welcome the Community statement on the Middle East, which is cautious and well-balanced, believing that the United States has no monopoly over diplomatic activity in this area?

Bearing in mind the increasing tension on the West Bank in recent days, will my right hon. Friend make sure that there is no delay in following up this activity?

I believe that the contacts will get under way after the change in Presidency, which occurs at the beginning of July, and will probably be done through the Presidency. We shall first have to find out whether all the parties concerned are prepared to accept the fundamental principles that we have enunciated as being binding on all parties.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the statement that will have given most satisfaction to the British people over the weekend was her statement condemning the loutish behaviour of British football fans in Italy? Did she take an opportunity to discuss with her colleagues ways of containing such violence in future, and whether any form of joint action could be taken, so that the good name of British people going abroad could be properly protected?

I am very grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman, because I believe that the vast majority of people in the House will share the views that he expressed. I am sure that he will understand that I did not at that moment raise the question with my colleagues, because in Venice we were trying to do everything that we could to enhance the reputation of Britain, while, unfortunately, in other parts of Italy, there were incidents that most of us regarded as disgraceful. I hope that they will not occur again. They did not do justice to the football team that was representing England.

Following are the declarations:

EUROPEAN COUNCIL, VENICE 12/13 JUNE 1980

EUROPEAN COUNCIL DECLARATION ON THE MIDDLE EAST

1. The Heads of State and Government and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs held a comprehensive exchange of views on all aspects of the present situation in the Middle East, including the state of negotiations resulting from the agreements signed between Egypt and Israel in March 1979. They agreed that growing tensions affecting this region constitute a serious danger and render a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict more necessary and pressing than ever.

2. The Nine Member States of the European Community consider that the traditional ties and common interests which link Europe to the Middle East oblige them to play a special role and now require them to work in a more concrete way towards peace.

3. In the regard, the Nine countries of the Community base themselves on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and the positions which they have expressed on several occasions, notably in their Declarations of 29 June 1977, 19 September 1978, 26 March and 18 June 1979, as well as in the speech made on their behalf on 25 September 1979 by the Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs at the 34th United Nations General Assembly.

4. On the bases thus set out, the time has come to promote the recognition and implementation of the two principles universally accepted by the international community : the right to existence and to security of all the states in the region, including Israel, and justice for all the peoples, which implies the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

5. All of the countries in the area are entitled to live in peace within secure, recognised and guaranteed borders. The necessary guarantees for a peace settlement should be provided by the UN by a decision of the Security Council and, if necessary, on the basis of other mutually agreed procedures. The Nine declare that they are prepared to participate within the framework of a comprehensive settlement in a system of concrete and binding international guarantees, including on the ground.

6. A just solution must finally be found to the Palestinian problem, which is not simply one of refugees. The Palestinian people, which is conscious of existing as such, must be placed in a position, by an appropriate process defined within the framework of the comprehensive peace settlement, to exercise fully its right to self-determination.

7. The achievement of these objectives requires the involvement and support of all the parties concerned in the peace settlement which the Nine are endeavouring to promote in keeping with the principles formulated in the Declaration referred to above. These principles are binding on all the parties concerned, and thus the Palestinian people, and on the PLO, which will have to be associated with the negotiations.

8. The Nine recognises the special importance of the role played by the question of Jerusalem for all the parties concerned. The Nine stress that they will not accept any unilateral initiative designed to change the status of Jerusalem and that any agreement on the city's status should guarantee freedom of access for everyone to the Holy places.

9. The Nine stress the need for Israel to put an end to the territorial occupation which it has maintained since the conflict of 1967, as it has done for part of Sinai. They are deeply convinced that the Israeli settlements constitute a serious obstacle to the peace process in the Middle East. The Nine consider that these settlements, as well as modifications in population and property in the occupied Arab territories, are illegal under international law.

10. Concerned as they are to put an end to violence, the Nine consider that only the renunciation of force or the threatened use of force by all the parties can create a climate of confidence in the area, and constitute a basic element for a comprehensive settlement of the conflict in the Middle East.

11. The Nine have decided to make the necessary contacts with all the parties concerned. The objective of these contacts would be to ascertain the position of the various parties with respect to the principles set out in this Declaration and in the light of the results of this consultation process to determine the form which an initiative on their part could take.

EUROPEAN COUNCIL DECLARATION ON AFGHANISTAN

The European Council has noted with deep concern the intensification of the military operations conducted by the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

>These dramatic developments increase still further the sufferings of the Afghan people. They emphasise the genuinely national nature of the resistance offered by an entire people. They threaten to jeopardise the climate of international relations for a long time to come.

In these circumstances, the European Council wishes to reaffirm its conviction that it is necessary to find without delay the means of reaching a solution which, in keeping with the Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, would ensure the withdrawal of Soviet troops and the free exercise of the Afghan people of the right to determine their own future. It reiterated its view that a solution could be found in an arrangement which allowed Afghanistan to remain outside the competition among the powers and to return to its traditional position as a neutral and nnn-aligned state

It recalls that it proposed in Luxembourg, on 28 April, that the great powers and the neighbouring states should undertake the necessary commitments to this end : in particular, they should agree to respect the sovereignty and integrity of Afghanistan, to refrain from any interference in its internal affairs and renounce any stationing of troops on its soil or any forms of military association with it.

The European Council shares the concern expressed and the conclusion drawn by the 11 th Conference of Foreign Ministers of Islamic States on the continued Soviet military presence in Afghanistan and has noted with great interest the creation by this Conference of a Committee to seek ways and means for a comprehensive solution of the grave crisis in respect to Afghanistan.

The Council repeated its readiness to support any meaningful initiative designed to promote a solution of the Afghan crisis.

EUROPEAN COUNCIL DECLARATION ON THE LEBANON

The Nine affirm once again their full and complete solidarity with the friendly country of the Lebanon whose stability remains dangerously threatened by confrontations in the region, and renew their urgent appeal to all the countries or parties concerned to put an end to all acts liable to damage the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon or the authority of its Government. The Nine will support any action or initiative which could ensure the return of peace and stability of the Lebanon, which constitutes an essential stabilising factor in the region.

The Nine stress the important role which UNIFIL must play in the southern part of Lebanon. The Nine recall their Declaration of 22 April 1980 at Luxembourg and stress that it is essential that all the parties concerned permit UNIFIL to carry out the tasks with which it has been charged, including the control of the territory up to the international frontier.