Documents considered by the Committee on 1 March 2017 Contents

15EU-Algeria Partnership Priorities

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny

Document details

Joint Proposal for a Council Decision on the Union position within the Association Council set up by the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, of the other part, with regard to the adoption of the EU-Algeria Partnership Priorities

Legal base

Articles 217 and 218(9) TFEU; QMV

Department

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Document Number

(38527), — + ADD 1, JOIN(17) 7

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

15.1Algeria is a key partner for the EU in the Mediterranean. It signed a Cooperation Agreement with the European Economic Community as far back as 1976, and concluded a comprehensive Association Agreement in 2005. Following the European Commission’s review of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2015, the EU is now on the cusp of adopting a new set of “Partnership Priorities” to govern its bilateral relationship with Algeria.

15.2The new Partnership Priorities consists of five priority areas, which were agreed jointly between the Commission, the Member States and the Algerian government: political engagement and governance; trade and economic cooperation; a partnership for energy, the environment and sustainable development; a security dialogue; and a cooperation on migration and mobility.

15.3In his Explanatory Memorandum of 16 February, the Minister for Europe (Sir Alan Duncan) notes that the Partnership Priorities must be endorsed by EU Foreign Affairs Ministers in the form of a Council Decision before they can be formally adopted by the EU-Algeria Association Council. He also adds that the Government “support[s] the document as an important tool for Algeria’s development and long-term stability. The proposed areas of cooperation listed in the Partnership Priorities correspond well with overall UK policy towards Algeria”. The Foreign Affairs Ministers are expected to endorse the Commission’s proposal at their meeting on 6 March.

15.4We note that the Government fully supports the contents of the new Partnership Priorities with Algeria, and does not foresee any additional budgetary commitments to Algeria beyond those already agreed. As such, we are content to clear it from scrutiny ahead of the Foreign Affairs Council on 6 March.

15.5We note, however, that uncertainty remains about the continued application of the EU-Algeria Association Agreement to the UK after Brexit. We look forward to a general clarification of the UK’s position under existing EU bilateral agreements with third countries as soon as possible after the start of the Article 50 negotiations.

Full details of the documents

Joint Proposal for a Council Decision on the Union position within the Association Council set up by the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, of the other part, with regard to the adoption of the EU-Algeria Partnership Priorities: (38527), 6379/17 + ADD 1, JOIN(17) 7.

Background

15.6The EU-Algeria relationship goes back to the very inception of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, when the country was still considered an integral part of France and thus part of the Community’s territory. Algeria achieved independence in 1962, and in April 1976 signed a Cooperation Agreement with the EEC which entered into force in November 1978.91

15.7In 1995, the EU began the Barcelona Process of seeking closer economic and political cooperation with neighbouring countries in the Mediterranean basin. This resulted, between 1998 and 2005, in the conclusion of Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements between the EU and eight countries in North Africa and the Near East, including Algeria.92 93

15.8The EU’s Association Agreement with Algeria was signed in 2002 and entered into force in September 2005.94 It governs bilateral relations between the two parties in numerous areas, including political dialogue; respect for human rights and democracy; establishment of a free trade area between the EU and Algeria;95 provisions relating to intellectual property, services, public procurement, competition rules, state aids and monopolies; economic cooperation in a wide range of sectors; cooperation relating to social affairs and migration (including re-admission of illegal immigrants); and cultural cooperation.

15.9As the Association Agreement with Algeria is ‘mixed’—it covers both EU and Member State competences—it was concluded by the EU, but also ratified by the individual Member States. As a result, the UK is party to the Agreement in its own right. However, article 108 stipulates that it applies “to the territories in which the Treaty establishing the European Community96 is applied and under the conditions laid down in that Treaty”. The Agreement also created two institutions to oversee its implementation: an Association Council, which comprises EU and Algerian Ministers, and the Association Committee, which meets at official level.

15.10In 2014, at the request of the Member States, the EU began a wholesale review of the European Neighbourhood Policy, including its relations with Mediterranean countries.97 In his Explanatory Memorandum, the Minister for Europe (Sir Alan Duncan) notes that the UK’s main policy goal for the review was to “generate a more effective ENP which better differentiated between partner countries and better identified key priorities for cooperation”. The review was finalised in 2015, and led to a decision to agree new priorities with seven countries in the EU’s neighbourhood, including Algeria.98

15.11As a result of this process, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs has now submitted a proposal to the Council for a new set of Partnership Priorities, to be adopted jointly by both sides within the EU-Algeria Association Council set up by the Association Agreement. The new Partnership focuses on five priority areas: political engagement and governance; trade and economic cooperation; a partnership for energy, the environment and sustainable development; a security dialogue; and a cooperation on migration and mobility. According to the Commission, the proposal has “no additional budgetary implications beyond what is provided for in previous international EU commitments”. The priorities are framed in terms of activities to be undertaken by either the EU or Algeria and therefore does not appear to impinge on Member State competence.

15.12The contents of the draft Council Decision reflect the outcome of negotiations between the EU and the Algerian Government during 2016. The Minister explains in his Memorandum that Member States had the “opportunity to comment during working groups and feed in views”. He notes specifically that the UK supports the new priorities “as an important tool for Algeria’s development and long-term stability”, and that “the proposed areas of cooperation listed in the Partnership Priorities correspond well with overall UK policy towards Algeria”.

15.13The Foreign Affairs Council is expected to adopt the Council Decision on 6 March 2017, paving the way for the new Partnership Priorities to be endorsed formally by both sides at the next meeting of the EU-Algeria Association Council.

Our assessment

15.14We note that the Minister fully supports the contents of the new Partnership Priorities which will, he says, serve as an “important tool for Algeria’s development and long-term stability”. We also take note of the fact that the draft Council Decision does not foresee additional budgetary allocations to Algeria beyond those already provided for under existing spending programmes. As such, we are content to clear it from scrutiny.

15.15With respect to the UK’s exit from the EU, the proposal itself does not raise any substantive issues. However, we draw to the House’s attention to the fact that the UK’s status under EU bilateral agreements with third countries remains unclear, even where the UK is a party to the agreement in its own right. In this case, the geographical application of the EU-Algeria Association Agreement is explicitly limited to countries where the EU Treaties apply. The Committee looks forward to clarification of the UK’s future status under the EU’s bilateral agreements as part of the EU exit negotiations as soon as possible.

The Government’s view

15.16On 16 February 2017, the Minister for Europe (Sir Alan Duncan) submitted an Explanatory Memorandum on the proposal. In it, he describes its purpose as follows:

“[The EU-Algeria Partnership Priorities] will set up a framework for political engagement for the EU and Algeria, as partners, to address areas of mutual interest and the challenges Algeria faces.”

15.17After listing the five priority areas, he notes with respect to the UK’s involvement in the drafting process:

“The final documents have been agreed through a number of discussions between the EU and Algeria during 2016. Throughout this process Member States have had the opportunity to comment during working groups and feed in views.”

15.18As a result, the Minister notes that the “proposed areas of cooperation listed in the Partnership Priorities correspond well with overall UK policy towards Algeria”, and the Government “support[s] the document as an important tool for Algeria’s development and long-term stability”.

15.19The Minister concluded by saying the proposal is expected to be endorsed by the Foreign Affairs Council on 6 March, ahead of its adoption by the EU-Algeria Association Council in the near future.

15.20The Minister’s Explanatory Memorandum does not assess how the UK’s exit from the EU may impact on the UK’s political and economic relationship with Algeria, for example if the EU-Algeria Association Agreement ceased to apply to the UK.

Previous Committee Reports

None in respect of the EU-Algeria Partnership Priorities. However, in respect of the EU’s new Partnership Priorities with Lebanon and Jordan, see: (38364) Twenty-Fourth Report HC 71-xxii (2016–17) chapter 10 (14 December 2016) and (38408) Twenty-Sixth Report HC 71-xxiv (2016–17) chapter 12 (18 January 2017).


92 The countries with which the EU signed Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements are Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia.

93 In 2008 the EU also co-founded the Union for the Mediterranean, a separate international organisation that comprises the 28 EU Member States and fifteen other Mediterranean countries.

94 Council Decision of 18 July 2005 on the on the conclusion of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement between the European Community and its Member States and Algeria.

95 The EU strongly supports Algeria’s process of accession to the World Trade Organisation.

96 Now the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

97 See for more information our Report: (37290) JOIN(15) 50: Sixteenth Report HC 342–xv (2015–16) chapter 8 (6 January 2016).

98 The other countries with whom the EU is agreeing—or has agreed—new Partnership Priorities are Armenia, Belarus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon. The new Partnerships with Lebanon and Jordan were adopted in November and December 2016 respectively. See “Previous Reports” for more details.




3 March 2017