Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twenty-Fifth and Twenty-Sixth Report




(a) Draft Council Decision on the signature of a Euro­Mediterranean
Association Agreement between the European Community and its Member
States and the Republic of Lebanon on behalf of the European Community;

(b) Draft Council Decision on the conclusion of a Euro­Mediterranean
Association Agreement between the European Community and its Member
States and the Republic of Lebanon.

(a) Draft Council Decision to sign an exchange of letters with Lebanon on
counter-terrorism co-operation.

(b) Draft Council Decision to conclude an exchange of letters between the EU
and Lebanon on counter-terrorism co-operation.

Legal base:(23368) (a) Article 310 EC in conjunction with the first sentence of the first sub-paragraph of Article 300(2); unanimity

(23368) (b) Article 310 EC in conjunction with Article 300(3); unanimity

(23393) Article 24 EU; unanimity
Department:Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of consideration: Minister's letter of 18 April 2002 and (23393) EM of 22 April 2002
Previous Committee Report: (23368) HC 152-xxiv (2001-02), paragraph 15 (17 April 2002)
To be discussed in Council: No date set
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:(23368) Cleared (decision reported on 17 April)
(23393) Cleared

  10.1  This proposed Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement with Lebanon is one of a series to be concluded under the EU's Mediterranean policy and is similar in content and form to the others.[28] On 17 April, we cleared the proposal authorising the Commission to sign and, after the assent of the European Parliament has been obtained, to conclude the Agreement on behalf of the European Community. As a mixed competence agreement, it will also be signed and concluded by the Member States. Before coming into force it will need to be ratified by the Member States, and approved by Lebanon, as well as by the European Community. The Minister expected it to be signed at the meeting of Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers in Valencia on 22-23 April 2002.

Objectives of the Agreement

  10.2  The main objectives of the Agreement are to provide an appropriate framework for political dialogue, to strengthen economic relations between the Community and Lebanon, to encourage regional co-operation, to consolidate economic and political stability, and to promote co-operation in other areas of reciprocal interest.

Exchange of Letters on Counter-Terrorism Co-operation

  10.3  As we reported last week, the Minister for Europe (Mr Peter Hain) told us that, following the events of 11 September, the EU requested that an exchange of letters be attached to the Agreement outlining the commitment of all the parties to counter-terrorism co-operation. He attached a copy of the draft Decision to his Explanatory Memorandum. We welcomed the Exchange of Letters and asked him to submit an Explanatory Memorandum on that Decision, bringing us up to date on its status. We further asked him whether any consideration had been given to an Interim Agreement, so that the co-operation sought could begin without delay

The Explanatory Memorandum and the Minister's letter

  10.4  In his Explanatory Memorandum, the Minister gives some more background, explaining that, following the events of 11 September, the EU decided to approach Lebanon to see whether a legally and politically binding reference to counter-terrorism co-operation could be agreed. Rather than delaying the initialling of the Agreement while this was negotiated, it was agreed that this reference should take the form of an Exchange of Letters between the EU and Lebanon.

  10.5  The Minister comments that the Government hopes that the Exchange of Letters will provide a basis for closer co-operation between the EU and Lebanon on these matters.

  10.6  In his letter, the Minister says that he did not submit an Explanatory Memorandum earlier as the text was not complete and nor was the Government sure that the Government of Lebanon would agree to such an Exchange of Letters, and therefore commit itself to signing them at Valencia.

The Government's view

  10.7  Given the importance of the issues, the Minister says that he intends to agree to the signing of the Exchange of Letters at the same time as the Association Agreement and the Interim Agreement at Valencia on 22 April. He comments:

    "The Lebanese commitment to co-operation on counter-terrorism is an important development in its relations with the EU. The commitment by Lebanon, along with a similar commitment from Algeria, also represents a significant step in giving practical effect to the Special European Council conclusions of 21 September 2001, which set out the EU's determination to put counter-terrorism at the heart of its relations with third countries. As such it is an important precedent — one which the UK initiated and worked hard to secure. I hope you will understand that these unique circumstances lead me to agree to the signing of the exchange of letters before Parliamentary Scrutiny has been undertaken.

    "In response to your question, I can confirm that the specific co-operation on counter-terrorism outlined in the Exchange of Letters will not come into effect until the EU-Lebanon Association Agreement is ratified and it is not possible to establish an interim agreement."


  10.8  We thank the Minister for providing us with an unofficial text of this Exchange of Letters and for informing us of his intention to agree to the signing at Valencia on 22 April. We recognise the importance of this co-operation in the fight against terrorism and clear the document.

28  Association Agreements have been signed with Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, Israel and Egypt and an interim Association Agreement has been signed with the Palestinian Authority.  Back

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