Council of Ministers (Hansard, 3 December 1990)
HC Deb 03 December 1990 vol 182 cc18-20W
Mr. Andrew MacKay

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish in theOfficial Report a statement of forthcoming business in the European Community's Council of Ministers.

Mr. Garel-Jones

The Health Council will meet on 3 December to discuss the Commission's proposals for partial harmonisation of rules governing the advertising of tobacco, the European Year of Nutrition in 1994 and for Community action against drug abuse in sport. Ministers will also discuss a request for greater involvement in proposals connected with food safety. Further action in the areas of drug abuse and AIDS will be considered and the Council may also discuss proposals for improving the prevention and treatment of acute human poisoning. Statements are expected to be made by the Commission on the institution of a committee on health protection, co-operation between the EC and the WHO and progress on biomedical research. The Presidency will put forward communications on action in the field of pharmaceuticals in the Internal Market Council and the proposals for the elderly which were discussed in the Social Affairs Council on 26 November. Proposals for an exchange of information on cardiovascular disease are expected to be taken as an "A" point.

The Economic and Finance Council will meet on 3 December to discuss the directive on money laundering; further work on economic and monetary union in preparation for the forthcoming inter-governmental conference; and the proposed revisions of the financial perspective as a result of German unification and the Gulf crisis. Ministers will also consider the Commission's proposal for a transitional VAT system after 1992, and in particular the VAT control compromise proposal. Tax harmonisation in the road transport sector will also be considered, and there will be a discussion, with a view to reaching agreement, on provisions relating to off-market trading and the access of banks to exchanges.

The Foreign Affairs Council will meet on 4 December to look at the preparations for the intergovernmental conferences (IGCs) on economic and monetary union and on political union and will take the procedural decision to convene the IGCs. Ministers will also discuss preparations for the European Council, which will include a discussion of assistance to the Soviet Union and possibly of EC aid to eastern Europe. The Council will review progress in the negotiations with EFTA countries on the European economic area, and will consider further the implications of German unification. There will be discussions of a Commission statement on the occupied territories, of the generalised scheme of preferences (GSP) for 1991 and of the media programme. Ministers are also likely to discuss reports on immigration policy in member states and the social integration of immigrants. Under other business there is likely to be a discussion of ACP debt, and there will be the nomination of President and Vice-Presidents of the Commission at a conference of member states.

At the Education Council on 6 December, Ministers are likely to discuss the Eurydice network, the role of education in the fight against drugs and Community co-operation in the evaluation of education systems. The Council may also consider the governing status of European schools, and the non-university sector of post-secondary schools.

The Agriculture Council will meet on 10 and 11 December and will discuss the agricultural aspects of the GATT round, GATT beef import quotas and the review of the sugar regime. Other items which may be discussed are the common organisation of the market in oils and fats, table olives, aromatic wines, revisions to regulation 797/85 concerning agriculture and the environment, costs of CAP information across the Community, the report on inter-professional organisations and the welfare of pigs and calves.

At the Consumer and Internal Market Council on

13 December Ministers will consider a number of measures relevant to the completion of the single market, and a proposal for a regulation to prevent the diversion of precursor chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of drugs. Ministers will also discuss a proposal for a general product safety directive on which the Presidency hopes to achieve further progress on the key outstanding issues, although there are still a number of differences to be resolved. There is also likely to be an oral presentation by the Commission on the proposal for a directive on the liability for services with a safety defect.

At a meeting of the Telecommunications Council on 14 December, Ministers will consider a proposal for a Council resolution on the final phase of implementation of the co-ordinated introduction of the pan-European digital cellular communications system (GSM). There will be an orientation debate on the role of telecommunications in EC relations with the countries of eastern and central Europe, which may result in Council conclusions. The Commission will present a proposal for a Council decision on a second phase of the EC programme TEDIS and a communication on EDI. As this agenda item is to be no more than a presentation there will be no Council conclusions. The Council will also have the first opportunity to debate the final version of the Commission's Green Paper on a common approach in the field of satellite communications in the European Community which was adopted by the Commission on 14 November. There will be an orientation debate which may result in Council conclusions. The Council may also be expected to agree a recommendation on the co-ordinated introduction of digital European cordless telecommunications in the Community and to agree a common position on a directive on the frequency bands to be reserved for them.

The European Council will meet in Rome on 14 and 15 December. Heads of Government are likely to discuss the forthcoming intergovernmental conference on political union, the current crisis in the Gulf and assistance to the Soviet Union. There is also likely to be a discussion of the single market and perhaps of the siting of the instituions. Heads of Government may consider economic and monetary union, GATT, EC/EFTA negotiations and EC/Mediterranean policy.

The Economic and Finance Council on 17 December is expected to discuss the Commission's proposals for extending European Investment Bank operations to Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania, with a Community guarantee, and may also discuss the disbursement of the medium-term loan to Hungary. Ministers will discuss the Commission's proposal for a transitional VAT system, and may also consider the Commission's proposal for the control of the movements of excise goods post-1992, which was presented at the October Economic and Finance Council.

The Transport Council will meet on 17 to 18 December and is expected to discuss proposals on the dimensions of road trains, combined transport, shipping cabotage, various aspects of the aviation industry, and road haulage quotas and crisis measures. There will be orientation debates on shipping consortia and the transfer of vessels between Community registers, and some discussion of transit through third countries. Infrastructure cost coverage, high-speed rail networks and the impact of German unification may also feature on the agenda.

There will be a special meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on 18 December to discuss follow-up to the European Council. Ministers will also discuss the Community position for the co-operation council with Egypt which will take place in the margins, and will discuss draft negotiating mandates for association agreements with Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The Council will have a further discussion of the Commission's proposals for a new Mediterranean policy, and will discuss the Commission's proposals for a new (third) EC/Yugoslavia financial protocol, and will also consider the Commission's proposals for strengthening EC/Turkey relations. Ministers will also discuss the aid programme for Asia and Latin America, and may consider EC relations with San Marino and the GATT Uruguay round.

The Fisheries Council will meet on 19 December to discuss total allowable catches for 1991 including arrangements with third countries, tariff quotas for 1991, the amendment of the structural regulation and technical conservation measures.

The Environment Council scheduled for 20 and 21 December will consider proposals for directives on the treatment of municipal waste water (sewage discharges), on the management of hazardous waste, on motor vehicle emissions and on the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances. Proposed Council regulations on an action programme to protect the Mediterranean (MEDSPA) and on substances that deplete the ozone layer will also be considered. It is possible that the Council will hold further discussions on the use of economic and fiscal instruments to attain environmental objectives.

The Research Council will meet on 21 December and will discuss the Presidency's suggestion of informal meetings of Research Ministers. It is possible that common positions will be agreed on the environment, marine technology and telematics programmes under the third framework programme. The Council will consider the EC's role in the next phase of the international thermonuclear experimental reactor (ITER) programme.