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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
05 July 2018
Volume 644

Written Statements

Thursday 5 July 2018

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Industrial Strategy

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As part of the industrial strategy, the Government committed to making the most of the UK’s strengths, so we can be at the forefront of new technologies and emerging industries in the years ahead. The construction sector is fundamental to our economy as we invest in our future; building the homes and infrastructure we rely on.

The construction sector deal aims to drive a substantial improvement in the productivity growth of the sector in the coming years, by increasing the use of digital and offsite manufacturing technologies, creating new jobs and training the workforce in new skills, and supporting UK firms to exploit export opportunities in a rapidly expanding global construction market. The deal will support the development of affordable, easy to construct homes, schools and other buildings which can be quickly and sustainably manufactured offsite and then assembled when and where needed. The deal will boost the delivery of the Government’s ambition to build 1.5 million new homes by 2022.

The construction sector deal will deliver:

£420 million of investment to transform construction through developing and commercialising new digital and offsite manufacturing technologies for construction, which will aim to reduce the cost of new buildings by a third, and halve the time taken to deliver them;

Cheaper energy bills for families and businesses—supporting the industrial strategy clean growth mission to halve the energy use of new builds by 2030;

25,000 construction apprenticeship starts and 1,000 construction T-level placements; and

Supporting the UK construction sector to compete in the global market for infrastructure which is worth US $2.5 trillion a year.

With almost half of the economy reliant on the built environment and the services it enables, this deal brings together the construction, manufacturing, energy and digital sectors to deliver innovative approaches that improve productivity in the construction sector and accelerate a shift to building more efficient, safer, healthier and more affordable places to live, work and learn.

Sector deals, where industries are invited to come forward with plans for their future, embody the ethos of our collaborative approach. They show how industry and the Government, working in partnership, can boost the productivity and earning power of specific sectors. We have already struck ambitious deals with the artificial intelligence, life sciences, automotive and creative industries sectors with the nuclear sector deal announced last week, and we look forward to building on this in the months ahead.

I am placing a copy of the “Construction Sector Deal” in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS831]

Exiting the European Union

General Affairs Council: 26 June 2018

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Lord Callanan, Minister of State for Exiting the European Union, has made the following statement:

I represented the UK at the General Affairs Council (GAC) meeting in Luxembourg on 26 June. A provisional report of the meeting and the conclusions adopted can be found on the Council of the European Union’s website at:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/gac/ 2018/06/26/

Enlargement and stabilisation and association process

Ministers agreed Council conclusions on enlargement policy and the stabilisation and association process. Subject to progress on rule of law reform, the Council set out the path towards opening accession negotiations in June 2019 with Albania and Macedonia, which I supported.

Preparation of the European Council on 28 and 29 June 2018

Ministers prepared June European Council by discussing the draft conclusions issued on 25 June. On migration, Ministers exchanged views on internal and external migration, the reform of the common European asylum system and measures to strengthen the EU’s external borders.

On security and defence, Ministers discussed EU-NATO co-operation, permanent structured co-operation (PESCO) and the European defence industrial development programme. I supported the draft conclusions on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats which were issued as part of the response to the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury on 4 March. I also welcomed the inclusion of language in the draft conclusions on measures to counter malign cyber-activity.

In discussions on jobs, growth and competitiveness, I highlighted the UK’s concerns surrounding proposals on investment screening. On the response to the US decision to impose tariffs on the EU for aluminium and steel imports, I supported the measures that had been taken and welcomed calls to avoid the further escalation of this situation.

Ministers also debated digital and innovation matters, external relations and the multiannual financial framework.

European semester

In accordance with the European semester process, Ministers approved country-specific recommendations (CSR) on the economic and social outcomes which member states will work towards over the course of the following year. The Council is expected to formally adopt the CSRs in July.

Interinstitutional agreement implementation

Ministers reviewed the implementation of the interinstitutional agreement on better law-making (IIA BLM) and considered the work that has been carried out during the first half of 2018.

Rule of law in Poland/article 7 (1) TEU reasoned proposal

The Council held a hearing under article 7 (1) treaty on European Union. The Commission set out its concerns on the judicial reforms enacted by the Polish authorities. In response, Poland provided a detailed presentation which set out the context and content of the reforms and highlighted the political sensitivities. Thirteen member states asked Poland questions and Poland responded. The presidency confirmed that Ministers would return to this matter at future meetings of the GAC.

[HCWS833]

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Foreign Affairs Council: 25 June 2018

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My noble Friend the Minister of State for Defence, the right hon. Earl Howe, and I attended the Joint Foreign Affairs Council (FAC). I also attended a meeting of the FAC for Foreign Ministers only. The Council was chaired by the High Representative and Vice-President of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini. The meeting was held in Luxembourg.

Security and defence co-operation

Foreign and Defence Ministers discussed EU security and defence co-operation, permanent structured co-operation (PESCO), military mobility, the European defence fund, the European peace facility, the fight against hybrid threats, and the importance of strengthening the EU’s resilience to such threats and civilian capability development.

The Council adopted conclusions on security and defence. It also adopted a decision setting out governance rules for projects undertaken under PESCO, and approved the overarching high-level part of the military requirements for military mobility within and beyond the EU.

EU-NATO co-operation

Ahead of the NATO summit on 11 and 12 July, Foreign and Defence Ministers exchanged views on EU-NATO co-operation with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Against the background of challenges in the transatlantic relationship, Ministers underlined the continuing good collaboration on security and defence between the EU and NATO. Ministers also highlighted the important progress made on the 74 concrete actions implementing the July 2016 joint declaration between the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the NATO Secretary-General. Ministers encouraged further co-operation, in particular on military mobility and on countering hybrid threats.

Yemen

Ministers discussed Yemen with the United Nations (UN) Special Envoy Martin Griffiths, who briefed them on his peace plan. Ministers exchanged views on ongoing EU efforts and explored ways to strengthen the UN-led process. The Council adopted conclusions on Yemen.

Horn of Africa and the Red sea

The Council discussed and adopted conclusions on the horn of Africa and the Red sea. Ministers highlighted the strategic importance of the region for the EU. They expressed their support to efforts aimed at the creation of an organised and inclusive regional forum for dialogue and co-operation around the Red sea.

EU global strategy

The Council reviewed the implementation of the EU global strategy based on the second implementation progress report. Ministers welcomed the important progress made.

Jordan

The HRVP reported back on her recent visit to Jordan. Ministers expressed their strong support for Jordan as one of the countries most affected by the crisis in Syria. Ministers took stock of EU-Jordanian relations including socioeconomic co-operation under the EU-Jordan partnership. They expressed the importance of maintaining a high level of support to Jordan which faces a critical time both politically and economically and highlighted the importance of supporting the new Government to continue economic and social reforms.

The Council also agreed a number of measures without discussion:

The Council adopted the EU priorities at the UN and 73rd UN General Assembly;

The Council adopted conclusions on Sahel/Mali;

The Council adopted the decision on the signing and provisional application of a protocol to the Euro-Mediterranean agreement establishing an association between the EU and Israel to take account of the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the EU;

The Council placed seven individuals under restrictive measures in light of the situation in Myanmar/Burma;

The Council extended the mandates of six EU special representatives for Bosnia and Herzegovina, central Asia, horn of Africa, Kosovo, Sahel and the south Caucasus, and the crisis in Georgia;

The Council decided to put 11 individuals holding official positions under restrictive measures who are responsible for human rights violations and for undermining democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela;

The Council approved the progress catalogue 2018;

The Council adopted conclusions on EU co-operation with cities and local authorities in third countries.

[HCWS832]