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Convention on the Future of Europe

Mr. Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress in the Convention on the Future of Europe. [117931]

Mr. MacShane: Valery Giscard d'Estaing has been asked to present, at the 19–20 June Thessaloniki European Council, the final report on the Convention on the Future of Europe. The Government are confident that the convention's final output will be good for the United Kingdom and good for the kind of Europe we want: enlarged, more effective, more accountable and more efficient.

The convention will be followed by an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), where decisions will be taken by unanimity.

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Counter-terrorism Programme

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what categories, activities and equipment are funded from the counter-terrorism assistance budget of (a) his Department and (b) the Global Opportunities Fund. [118261]

Mr. Straw: I announced on 8 May 2003 that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had established the Global Opportunities Fund. The Counter-Terrorism Programme, which replaces the previous FCO Counter-Terrorism Assistance budget, was one of the first five programmes to be launched.

Over the last 14 months, funds from these budgets have been used to deliver specific counter-terrorism training to over 70 countries on five different continents. To date, no equipment has been supplied under the counter-terrorism programmes, but assistance has been delivered covering the drafting of counter-terrorism legislation, efforts to combat the financing of terrorism, aviation security, crisis management, bomb disposal and police investigation and forensic skills.

Counter-terrorism assistance from the GOF will rise to £4 million this financial year and continue to rise over the next two years.

Cyprus

Dr. Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had on the future of Cyprus; and if he will make a statement. [117649]

Mr. MacShane: I refer my hon. Friend to the written ministerial statement made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 4 June 2003, Official Report, column 22WS.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have been held with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo concerning internal conflicts; what advice was given; and what assistance was offered. [117694]

Mr. Rammell: We have regular discussions with the President and Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and with President Kabila's National Committee for the implementation of the Global Accord, signed by all Congolese parties in December 2002. In concert with our international partners we continue to underline to all parties to the conflict the importance of abiding by their commitments to the peace process, and of reuniting the country under a transitional national government to prepare for elections.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have been held with the Governments of (a) Uganda, (b) Rwanda, (c) Angola and (d) Zimbabwe concerning the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and if he will make a statement. [117695]

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Mr. Rammell: We regularly discuss the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes with regional governments, including Rwanda, Uganda and Angola. We remain concerned by the situation in the DRC, particularly the humanitarian crisis in the north-eastern Ituri region. We were active in encouraging the governments of Rwanda and Uganda to respond positively to the UN Secretary-General's request to send an Interim Emergency Multinational Force to Bunia (Ituri region).

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Cuba on the imprisonment of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet; and if he will make a statement. [117572]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The UK, along with EU partners, is deeply concerned by the recent arrests and harsh sentencing of 75 political opponents of the Cuban regime, including Dr. Biscet. We have repeatedly underlined this concern to the Cuban Government, both in Havana and in London, and we will continue to call for their release.

EU Draft Constitution

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in what other areas besides marine resources the EU is allocated exclusive competence on the draft EU constitution. [117726]

Mr. MacShane: The latest draft of the EU constitutional treaty proposes in Article 12 of Part 1 that "the Union shall have exclusive competence to establish competition rules within the internal market, and in the following areas: monetary policy, for the member states which have adopted the euro; common commercial policy; customs union; the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy."

In the amendments that the Government have submitted to the Convention, we have stressed that the competences exercise should largely clarify existing competences rather than extend Union competence. For this reason we have proposed that the competence to establish competition rules within the internal market be listed under Article 13 as an area of shared competence rather than in Article 12 as an area of exclusive competence.

EU Regulations

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many European Community regulations (a) came into force on United Kingdom entry, (b) have become applicable since the UK's Accession and (c) are in force; how many regulations introduced since 1973 have been (i) amended and (ii) replaced existing regulations; and where EC Regulations are listed in a form easily accessible to the General Public. [117092]

Mr. MacShane: The precise number of EC regulations which came into force for the United Kingdom on accession, and which currently remain in force, is not held centrally by the Government. Equally,

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records of the number of regulations which have come into force since accession are not held. Many such regulations will have merely amended or repealed existing regulations. It would incur disproportionate cost to compile thisinformation.

However, a directory of all Community legislation currently in force is available freely to the general public on http://www.europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/lif/index.html. This is structured in an easily accessible format by policy area and indicates where legislation has been amended or updated.

European Union (Marine Resources)

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he intends to make on the draft EU constitution's provision for an exclusive EU competence over the marine resources of the sea. [117725]

Mr. MacShane: In the amendments to the draft EU Constitutional Treaty that the Government have submitted to the Convention, we have emphasised that the competences exercise should clarify existing competences rather than extend Union competence.

The Government believe that the inclusion of the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy at draft Article 12 of Part 1 of the draft Constitutional Treaty, as an area of exclusive Union competence, represents an accurate reflection of the current position with regards to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The European Court of Justice held, in Case 804/79 (Commission v UK) that, "since the expiration on 1 January 1979 of the transitional period laid down by Article 102 of the [UK's] Act of Accession, power to adopt, as part of the common fisheries policy, measures relating to the conservation of the resources of the sea has belonged fully and definitively to the Community." That said, Council Regulation 2371/2002 gives member states the right to introduce non-discriminatory conservation measures, up to 12 miles from the shore line. Such measures must conform with the CFP and must be cleared with the Commission in advance.

Kashmir

Mr. Best: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Governments of India and Pakistan about Kashmir. [116957]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary regularly raises our concerns about Kashmir with the Governments of India and Pakistan, including during frequent telephone calls. The Foreign Secretary and Indian Foreign Minister Sinha also discussed Kashmir during their meeting on 20 May. We hope there will be further opportunities to discuss Kashmir with senior Pakistanis and Indians in the near future.

As the Foreign Secretary said in his press statement of 2 May, we warmly welcome the announcement that India and Pakistan are to resume full diplomatic relations and re-establish transport links between the two countries. We hope that these positive

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developments prove to be the first steps in a process of building confidence, normalising bilateral relations and resolving outstanding differences, including Kashmir.


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