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Political Co-Operation

Volume 15: debated on Wednesday 16 December 1981

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39.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what proposals he has to develop initiatives for closer political co-operation within the European Economic Community.

41.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he is satisfied with the machinery that exists for political co-operation between European Economic Community Foreign Ministers.

A year ago my right hon. and noble Friend took the initiative in proposing that the Foreign Ministers of the Ten should re-examine the operation of political co-operation. The results of that work are contained in the London "Report on European Political Co-operation", which was agreed by Foreign Ministers of the Ten on 13 October and has been published as Cmnd. 8424.

We shall continue to look at ways of further improving political co-operation. Meanwhile, the most important contribution that we can make is to ensure that the machinery that exists is well used. That is what we have tried to achieve during the United Kingdom Presidency.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that comprehensive answer and wish him well in the development of the work. Can he say further, specifically on recent developments that mean that we must have a united position in the Middle East, whether, as President of the Council of Ministers, the Foreign Secretary has been able to sort out the rather unusual utterance of the French Foreign Minister? Can he confirm that that does not reflect the Presidential opinion and is another spontaneous outburst?

I referred earlier, in answer to another question, to yesterday's declaration by the Ten of our continued adherence to the Venice declaration and our support for the four countries of the Ten contributing to the Sinai force. That is a good example of political co-operation and arose from the fact that the Foreign Ministers of the Ten were meeting in London yesterday and the day before.

Can my right hon. Friend tell me whether the EEC Foreign Ministers are united on an approach to the Polish crisis and whether he has any information about future food supplies to Poland?

Yes, Sir. Again, there was an agreed communiqué given to the House by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister yesterday about the Ten's views on Poland. The position about future food supplies has been agreed among the Ten and is straightforward. Existing undertakings and arrangements will continue, so far as they can. With the Polish border closed there are certain difficulties in moving anything into or out of Poland. However, no new agreements or undertakings will be made until the situation becomes a little clearer. That is the position of the Ten.

In view of Israel's continuing expansionism, will the right hon. Gentleman institute a review within the EEC of its financial and trading agreements with Israel with a view to having them abrogated?

There will be no problem about studying our future attitude towards Israel. The events of the past 24 hours are newly on us and I take note of what the hon. Gentleman suggests. I am sure that that will happen, because all our policies towards Middle East matters are, to use a Civil Service phrase, "under constant review". That means what it says and it is happening as of today, because there is a meeting of the political directors now going on.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it has never been more important that we should act in concert with our EEC allies and act with resolution? Reverting to the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill), may I ask my right hon. Friend to discuss with other EEC Foreign Ministers the summoning of the Soviet ambassadors in every EEC capital to make it plain how gravely we view the Polish situation?

Of course I shall consider my hon. Friend's suggestion. He need not be under any misapprehension. The Soviet Government are perfectly aware of the views, not only of Britain and the Ten, but of the United States and all other free countries.