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Council Of Ministers (Decision-Taking Procedure)

Volume 32: debated on Wednesday 24 November 1982

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51.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he is satisfied with the way in which decisions in the Council of Ministers of the Community are taken.

With the looming prospect of the European-wide recession turning into a full-scale depression, does my right hon. Friend believe that the Council of Ministers has the necessary determination and wisdom to take collective measures to save Europe, to bring renewed economic expansion and to merge so-called narrow national interests into the much wider and stronger community of collective interests?

I am not sure precisely what my hon. Friend has in mind. As he knows, the different forms of Council of Ministers spend much time discussing the economic recession, working out their relationships with the rest of the world and trying to co-ordinate their own policies. That is as far as they can reasonably be expected to go at present.

Does the Minister find any difficulty in reconciling his responsibilites in the Council of Ministers of the Ten with the Council of Ministers of the 21 of the Council of Europe? Is there not quite a deal of duplication and unnecessary paperwork which he has to follow through? Is there any way in which there could be much better co-ordination between the Ten and the 21, which would save him much hard labour?

There is a problem. We try, both in the Community and in the Council of Europe, to prevent the overlap to which the hon. Gentleman has referred. We have recently agreed that in cultural matters the Council of Europe has pre-eminence.

Will my right hon. Friend undertake to publish any recommendations that he receives, from either the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food or the National Farmers Union, that are designed to reform the CAP so as to make it less expensive and less protectionist?

That is the aim of the Government as a whole, including my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.