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Foreign Affairs Council

Volume 178: debated on Wednesday 24 October 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Community have taken place since 1 August; and if he will make a statement concerning their contents and conclusions.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Mr. Mitchell) on 15 October about the Foreign Affairs Council on 17 September.The Foreign Affairs Council also met in Luxembourg on 22 October. I represented the United Kingdom. Ministers discussed a report prepared by their special representatives on preparations for the intergovernmental conference on institutional reform. They also discussed a report by the chairman of the ECOFIN Council on preparations for the IGC on economic and monetary union. They agreed that both reports should be submitted to the informal European Council in Rome on 27 and 28 October.Ministers had a preliminary discussion of the economic problems facing the countries of eastern and central Europe and the Soviet Union. The Council agreed draft declarations on relations between the European Community and the United States, and the European Community and Canada. The presidency will finalise the texts with the Americans and Canadians, in preparation for endorsement by the informal European Council on 27 and 28 October and signature at the CSCE summit in November.Ministers agreed in principle the Commission's proposals for the integration of the former GDR into the Community. The House debated this in full on 19 October. The Council's formal position will be adopted after examination of the European Parliament's opinion on the Commission's proposals.The Council had a further discussion of the Community's relations with Turkey. It also considered a Commission report on the opening round of negotiations for a free trade agreement with the Gulf Co-operation Council. The issues were referred to the Council of Permanent Representatives for further study. The Council discussed progress in the negotiations between the Community and the EFTA countries for the creation of a European economic area. I underlined the importance we attached to early progress in all areas of the negotiation.The Council approved an amendment to the Commission's regulation imposing surveillance licensing on imports of footwear from Korea and Taiwan.Ministers discussed the Community's offer on agriculture in the GATT Uruguay round. The issue will now go to a further meeting of the Agriculture Council, with Trade Ministers attending, on 26 October. I stressed the importance of early agreement between the Community member states if the EC wished to be taken seriously during the final stages of the Uruguay round negotiations.Ministers also discussed EC relations with third countries, including Syria, China, Iran, Vietnam and South Africa. The trade and co-operation agreement between the EC and Romania was signed by the Romanian Prime Minister, the Commission and by the presidency, on behalf of the Twelve.