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European Co-Operation

Volume 301: debated on Tuesday 25 November 1997

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How many times he has met EU Foreign Ministers since 1 May to discuss European co-operation. [16015]

I have met European Foreign Ministers on many occasions since 1 May.

Does the Minister agree that we—and he and the Foreign Office team in particular—should not get too starry-eyed about European co-operation? We have already heard at today's Question Time that the Common Market is in dispute over the Arab-Israeli argument and there is not agreement about Iraq or about Gibraltar. The reason why there are hundreds of people lobbying for mining jobs today is that when those in the Common Market who took the decisions had the chance to do so, they never bought the cheapest deep-mined coal in Europe. Those are the facts and I think that we ought to bear them in mind.

I assure my hon. Friend that I am never starry-eyed about any negotiation. I also assure him that since 1 May, the Labour Government have worked diligently and hard to get a better deal for Britain on a wide range of issues, including the Amsterdam treaty. We have been able to succeed because we have been in the dialogue, making our view count. That is what has made the difference in comparison with the performance of the last Government.