Foreign Affairs Council

European Community written question – answered at on 28 October 1981.

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Sir Anthony Meyer asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council on 26 and 27 October.

Mr. Humphrey Atkins: My right hon. and noble Friend chaired the Council. I represented Her Majesty's Government and my hon. Friend the Minister of State and my hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Trade attended.

Ministers completed a heavy agenda and reached satisfactory conclusions on a number of important questions.

The Council considered the enlargement negotiations with Portugal and Spain and reached agreement on Community positions on a number of important issues. Negotiating meetings were then held with both applicants at ministerial level at which statements were made by both sides on a wide range of subjects.

The Council discussed the Community's approach to negotiation with Cyprus on a trade regime for 1982 and 1983, which are due to take place before the end of this year. Further discussion will be necessary.

On 27 October there was a meeting at ministerial level of the EC/Cyprus Association Council to review progress under the 1972 EC/Cyprus Association Agreement. The Cypriot delegation was led by the Foreign Minister, Mr. Rolandis. The Cypriot delegation made clear its preoccupation with the lack of progress in the association with the Community in recent years.

The Council agreed on an adjustment to the Community levy which should enable Yugoslavia to export its allotted quota of baby beef to the Community. Over the past 12 months Yugoslavia's exports to the European Community of this speciality product have fallen markedly. The reduction in the levy now agreed should enable a satisfactory resumption of exports.

Ministers gave assent to an article 56.2. ECSC conversion loan of £3.7 million for Sony (UK) Ltd. which plans to expand its plant at Bridgend. It was also agreed that the informal meeting of Community industry Ministers on 10 December should discuss overseas investment in the Community.

The Council confirmed the position adopted by the Agriculture Council on 19 October that the Commission should resume negotiations with the African Caribbean and Pacific States on the question of the guaranteed price for African Caribbean and Pacific sugar for 1981–82.

The Foreign Affairs Council discussed North-South issues and proposals for further food aid. My right hon. and noble Friend reported on the outcome of the Cancun summit. General support was expressed for proposals from the Commission and the Italian Government on hunger in the world. The Development Council will give further consideration to these proposals on 3 November.

The Council spent a full afternoon reviewing progress in the negotiations on the 30 May Mandate in the light of a report from the special group set up to assist in taking this work forward. There was a full exchange of views on the three elements of the negotiation—development of policies other than agriculture, common agricultural policy reform, and the problem of excessive net contributions. It was agreed that the mandate group should work with urgency in order that appropriate conclusions might be reached at the European Council on 26–27 November in London.

The Council discussed Commission proposals on low cost textiles including renewal of the multi-fibree arrangement but was unable to reach agreement. An additional meeting of the Council will now be held on 10 November in order to consider this question further.

Finally, the Council agreed that the Commission should open discussions with the International Sugar Organisation, with a view to possible accession by the Community to an improved International Sugar Agreement. This is an important decision, which we made one of the priorities of our Presidency and one which we expect tp be welcomed by existing members of the 388 International Sugar Organisation, in particular those developing country producers which are heavily dependent on sugar exports.