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Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his written ministerial statement on Equatorial Guinea of 1 December 2004, Official Report, columns 3739WS, whether British officials received the Johann Smith notes after May. 
Mr. Mullin: The UK is in close touch with Ethiopia and Eritrea and welcomes the recent announcement by Ethiopia of a five-point proposal for resolving the boundary dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The acceptance in principle of the decision of the Boundary Commission is an important indication of Ethiopia's commitment to the Boundary Commission's final and binding decision. We remain ready to help in any we can.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many European Community directly applicable (a) regulations and (b) directives requiring United Kingdom legislation or action have become applicable in each year since 1974; how many (i) became time expired, (ii) were replaced and (iii) became redundant in each year; and what the total figures in each category were up to December 2003. 
Information relating to the number of European Community directly applicable regulations and directives requiring United Kingdom transposition or action is not held centrally and could be provided
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only at disproportionate cost. Government Departments record individually the primary and secondary legislation introduced to implement EU requirements. Only a small proportion of Foreign and Commonwealth Office legislation is introduced to implement EU requirements.
Similarly there is no centrally held information by the Government on European Community regulations and directives which became time expired, were replaced or became redundant in each year. However, the Commission is building up a body of knowledge in this areait has identified more than 450 pieces of legislation which it considers could be repealed or formally recognised as obsolescent and is working to take this forward. Furthermore, we welcome Commissioner Verheugen's announcement at last week's Competitiveness Council to withdraw 100 pending Commission legislative proposals. As EU regulatory reform champions, we have strongly supported the Commission's work in this area and will continue to do so.
Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the outcome was of the General Affairs and External Relations Council held on 22 and 23 November; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. 
My right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary, the Defence Secretary and the International Development Secretary, John Grant (UK's Permanent Representative to the EU) and I represented the UK at the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) in Brussels on 22 and 23 November.
The Council examined an annotated draft agenda prepared by the Presidency for the European Council meeting to be held in Brussels on 16 and 17 December. It will prepare the meeting in greater detail at the GAERC on 13 and 14 December. The main agenda items are: EU enlargement, Terrorism, EU financial framework for 200713, EU area of freedom, security and justice, and external affairs (expected to include Middle East Peace Process. Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan and the EU Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East). The Government are largely content with the current agenda, but will discuss in greater depth at the 13 December GAERC.
The Council took note of a progress report on preparation of the EU's financial framework for the 200713 period and held a policy debate on the
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Commission's proposals as regards financing of the EU's external actions policies. The Presidency noted that most delegations agreed with the proposal to simplify the structure of the EU budget. Many delegations considered that the proposed new financing instruments for external relations would allow the Council adequate political control, although a number highlighted conditions to be respected and emphasised the role to be played by the member states. The Government emphasised the need for a budget structure which enabled the EU to meet its priorities flexibly. The Presidency's aim is for the European Council in December to define the principles and guidelines for further work on the new financial framework with the aim of achieving political agreement next year.
The Government have argued that the Commission's proposal for real terms spending increases of 35 per cent. from 2007 to 2013 are unrealistic and unacceptable. We believe that the priorities of an enlarged Union can be met within a budget of 1 per cent. EU GNI. We have therefore argued for a robust assessment of the value added of EU spending in order to ensure that EU spending is focussed and effective.
Defence Ministers approved the six-monthly Single Progress Report on capability development and their declaration on development of military capabilities. In particular, this declaration included commitments from member states to hold battlegroups at very high readiness from 2005. The GAERC also approved the 2005 budget and work programme of the European Defence Agency, and Defence Ministers (meeting in Agency Steering Board format) also agreed conclusions on the European Commission's Green Paper on defence procurement. The GAERC also agreed to launch the EU operation in Bosnia (EUFOR) on 2 December.
Improving European defence capability is one the Government's key aims for ESDP, and the Government have played a major role in the capability development commitments which the Council approved, in particular the battlegroups concept. The UK has offered one national battlegroup and one joint battlegroup with the Netherlands to the EU's co-ordinated pool of battlegroups for full operational capability from 2007. Together with France, the UK will provide the EU's initial operational capability in the first half of 2005. The Government supports the agreed European Defence Agency work programme, and the UK is providing the EU Force Commander in Bosnia for the first year.
Foreign Ministers discussed the Middle East Peace Process over lunch. The Council expressed its condolences to the Palestinian people on the occasion of President Arafat's death and commended the approach of the current leadership in organising a smooth transition. The Council reiterated its commitment to pursue the short-term programme of action proposed by High Representative Solana to the European Council and concluded that immediate action is required to support the presidential elections, to improve the security situation and to provide financial support to the Palestinian Authority. The Foreign Secretary agreed with this approach and highlighted that the EU had an
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opportunity to play a stronger role. He briefed the Council on my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's positive discussion with President Bush in Washington.
Foreign Ministers also discussed Iran over lunch. They welcomed the agreement on nuclear issues and future cooperation following talks with France, Germany and the UK (E3) supported by the High Representative. The Council welcomed Iran's decision to suspend fully all enrichment related and reprocessing activities, and to sustain this suspension while negotiations are underway on an agreement on long-term arrangements. It expected Iran to take the steps necessary to enable the IAEA to report on 25 November that full suspension was in place. The Council confirmed the EU's readiness to explore ways to develop political and economic co-operation with Iran. It recalled the conclusions of the European Council on 5 November that negotiations on a Trade and Co-operation Agreement would resume as soon as suspension was verified. As part of the E3, the Government played a major part in negotiating Iran's decision to suspend fully all enrichment related and reprocessing activities.
Over lunch Ministers addressed EU-China relations, in preparation for the EU-China Summit on 8 December 2004. A large number of subjects will be discussed at the summit with a view to raising the relationship between the EU and China to a higher level. More specifically, with regard to the arms embargo, the Presidency confirmed, following the discussion, that the EU was ready to give a positive signal to China. However, at the same time a number of concerns must be addressed, including in the field of human rights, and work must continue on strengthening the EU Code of Conduct on arms exports.
The Government support the decision of the European Council in December 2003 to review the EU Arms Embargo on China. This review is ongoingit was last discussed by EU Foreign Ministers at the 11 October GAERC. The Government do not wish to exclude any options for the review, nor to pre-empt the conclusion of the review. The Government continues to implement the Arms Embargo as set out by the then Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the late Derek Fatchett, in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Gedley (Vernon Coaker) on 3 June 1998, Official Report, columns 24041.
There was widespread concern within the Council over the Ukrainian electoral process, as well as at the likely outcome. The Council considered next steps and they issued a Presidency statement calling on the Ukrainian authorities to review together with OSCE/ODIHR the electoral process and results.
Subsequent to the GAERC the Foreign Secretary made a statement on 23 November urging the Ukrainian authorities to cooperate with the OSCE to ensure that all proper procedures, including legal challenges to the results, are fully followed before declaring a final result. A copy of the Statement is available on the FCO website: www.fco.gov.uk/policy/news/press-releases. The Ukrainian authorities should
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investigate all allegations of fraud to ensure that the result reflects the democratic will of the Ukrainian people. We will closely monitor the situation with our EU partners.
The Council called upon President Lukashenko and his government to reverse their present policies and to embark on fundamental democratic and economic reforms. The Council noted with concern that the 17 October 2004 parliamentary elections and referendum in Belarus were not conducted in a free and fair manner. The Council strongly condemned the attacks on peaceful demonstrators, individual opposition leaders and journalists that took place after 17 October. The Council agreed to continue to follow developments in Belarus closely and will take further action as appropriate. The Government support this approach.
The Council examined if the ATHENA mechanism for the financing of the common costs of EU-led military operations could better meet the needs of EU Rapid Response, in terms of transportation of the forces and early provision of funds to ATHENA. It came to no agreement and tasked the relevant Council bodies, in relation with the EU Military Staff and the ATHENA administrator, to continue reflecting on the most appropriate ways and means to finance EU Rapid Response.
The Government believe the the costs of deployment should normally fall to member states and should not automatically be financed in common. It is important to maintain incentives on member states to improve their capabilities in this area and to find the most effective means of deploying their forces. The Government's position received considerable support from the other partners. The Government are able to provide funds rapidly to the ATHENA mechanism when required, and therefore does not intend to participate in a common fund for this purpose.
The French Foreign Minister, Michel Barnier, briefed on recent events. Almost all French nationals had now departed. The Dutch Foreign Minister Bot, speaking as the Presidency, informed Foreign Ministers that South African President Mbeki had debriefed him on his recent discussions with the key figures in the Cote d'Ivoire crisis. The Government shares the international community's condemnation of the Government of Cote d'Ivoire's breach of the cease-fire and the ensuing attacks on foreign residents. The Government continue to believe that there can be no military solution to the conflict and supports the UN and AU in their efforts to find a political settlement.
The Council welcomed the outcome of the First Summit for Heads of State of the AU-UN International Conference for peace and security in the Great Lakes region. The Council stressed the importance of this process leading to a final outcome that will lead to lasting peace and stability, good governance, democracy and respect for human rights, socio-economic
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development and regional integration. The Council re-iterated the willingness of the EU to continue its support, through the Group of Friends of the Conference, to the preparatory process for the second summit to ensure its successful outcome. The Government will do what they can to assist this process and is planning to contribute US$1 million to the Conference.
The Council welcomed the urgently needed deployment of the military elements of the expanded African Union (AU) force in Darfur (AMIS II) and the leading role of the AU. It will consider, in close discussion with the AU, possible support for the implementation of the policing elements of AMIS II. The Council welcomed the progress achieved at the peace talks in Abuja and noted that there is urgent need for additional humanitarian assistance. The EU has already provided more that €325 million from bilateral and Community funds for 2004 but substantial additional amounts need to be raised. The EU will consider increasing its humanitarian support, while encouraging other donors to provide additional support for humanitarian operations.
The Government welcome the unanimous UN Security Council Resolution 1574. There is an urgent need for progress in resolving the Dafur crisis and to maintain the pressure on both sides (Government of Sudan and rebels) to abide by the commitments they have given. The Government welcome the AU's efforts to resolve the crisis in Darfur both through the peace talks in Abuja and through its monitoring mission on the ground. The Government will continue to press the EU to consider actively what it can do to assist and reinforce the AU's efforts.
The Council reviewed recent developments in Somalia, in particular the establishment of the Transitional Parliament, the election of Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed as President and the appointment of Ali Mohamed Ghedi as Prime Minster. The Council would welcome the early establishment of a broad-based government in Somalia. The Council reiterated its support for the efforts of all parties seeking peace and reconciliation in Somalia and stands ready to work with the United Nations and all relevant international organisations in supporting the peace and reconciliation process and the transition to a federal state. The Government feel it is important that the international community actively support the framework for a UN led dialogue with the Transitional Federal Government.
Portuguese Foreign Minister Monterio gave an update on the mission of the Lusophone Community which had the objective of promoting dialogue between the government and the military and whose conclusions would focus on security sector reform. Further funding was requested. The Government currently provide multilateral support through the UN, EU and International Financial Institutions. It supports the initiative for the Lusophone Community to send a small mission to promote dialogue between the military and political communities in Guinea-Bissau.
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Conclusions were adopted which outlined a collective EU approach to the 2005 Millennium Summit's stocktake on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), via a joint EU report focused on aid resources and new financing mechanisms, coherence of aid and other polices, plus a new initiative on Africa. The Government stressed that the Summit must acknowledge that progress in meeting the MDGs was much too slow, and that changes in policies were needed. The key issues were to increase aid resources; debt relief, where the UK hoped others would follow our initiative to pay off the outstanding debts of the poorest countries for the IFIs; innovative financing mechanisms; and improving trade opportunities for developing countries.
Member states adopted two sets of Conclusions giving the Commission a renewed mandate to pursue its policy on these issues. The EU has played a prominent role in the ICPD context from the start and its policy and approaches are now fully aligned with the Cairo (ICPD) agenda. But more funding was needed to implement the Cairo action plan. Also, poverty diseases, especially HIV/AIDS, remain a major cause of death as indicated by shocking new figures recently revealed by UNAIDS. The Government are particularly pleased to see the links that the Conclusions make between Sexual and Reproductive Health HIV. HIV and AIDS will be a priority during the UK Presidency of the EU and G8 next year.
Conclusions and the Action Plan on harmonisation were agreed. The Action Plan was drawn up by a special working party of member states' experts and will be submitted to the Second OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) High Level Forum on Harmonisation and Alignment for Aid Effectiveness in Paris 2005. The Government welcomed the Action Plan. It sets out minimum standards for member states and the Commission when working with one another and partner countries. But the Government consider that the EU should still strive to do more and learn from successes such as in Mozambique and Vietnam, and initiatives in conflict countries such as Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.
This is one of the principle tools available to assess EC's external actions programmes. The Government welcome this report as a marked improvement on previous years. However, it is still not the strategic management tool we would like it to be. It should be more analytical and focus on progress against strategic objectives, such as global poverty reduction, the MDGs and EC's Development Policy Conclusions, reflecting the UK's concerns, were agreed.
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