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Foreign Affairs Council And Igc Ministerial Meeting, 22Nd April

Volume 571: debated on Monday 29 April 1996

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What was the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council and the IGC Ministerial meeting on 22nd April.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Chalker of Wallasey)

My right honourable and learned friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and my honourable friend David Davis attended these meetings, where the outcome was as follows:The A items listed in document 6507/96, which will be placed in the Libraries of the House as soon as it is available, were approved except item 6 on Former Yugoslavia, which became a B item for substantive discussion.The Council took note of resolutions in EP documents 5779/96 (PE-RE 24) and 6210/96 (PE/RE 27). Copies of these documents will be deposited in the Libraries of the House as soon as they are available.The Council agreed conclusions on Former Yugoslavia; the critical dialogue with Iran; and the US "Helms/Burton" legislation on trade with Cuba.A declaration on the latest developments in Lebanon and conclusions on the situation in Niger were agreed. The Council also expressed its sympathy for the families of the victims of the terrorist attack in Cairo on 18th April.The Council discussed the MEDA regulation on aid to countries in the Mediterranean. While no agreement was reached at this Council, the Presidency expressed hope for agreement during the next Council, scheduled for 13th May. Ministers also discussed Former Yugoslavia; and Slovenia.

The Council discussed the continuing export ban on British beef products. The Secretary of State underlined the urgent need for progress towards lifting the ban.

In the margins of the Council, Partnership and Co-operation Agreements were signed with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

The sixth EU/Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) Joint Council and Ministerial meeting also took place, followed by a dinner. Ministers discussed the prospects for a free trade agreement and agreed to set up a joint EU/GCC Working Group on regional security in the Gulf.

The second Ministerial session of the IGC also took place on 22nd April. Ministers considered a range of issues, under the broad heading of "the citizen and the Union" on the basis of eight questions in a Presidency note (doc no Conf 3843/95) which has been placed in the Library of the House. The issues included: the workings of the Justice and Home Affairs pillar; EU citizenship; fundamental rights; the employment and environment provisions of the Treaty; subsidiarity; and transparency.

We reiterated the positions that the UK representative had already set out in the two preceding Working Party sessions on 1st/2nd and 15th/16th April, in particular that intergovernmental co-operation was the appropriate model for Justice and Home Affairs and that, in general, this was working well; that businesses, not new Treaty provisions on employment, created jobs; that neither strengthening the concept of EU citizenship, nor writing fundamental rights into the Treaty which were already protected in national laws would be likely to bring Europe closer to the citizen; and that subsidiarity should be further entrenched in the Treaty.

The Ministerial session was preceded by an exchange of views with the European Parliament President and two representatives of the European Parliament.