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EU Enlargement: Tobacco Regime

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): As I made clear on 9 June, we are committed to seeking

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the widest possible degree of reform of the tobacco regime and expect detailed Commission proposals to come forward in the autumn. It is not yet clear how the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be extended to EU applicant countries, but in all previous enlargements the assumption has been that acceding member states adopt the EU rules in existence when they join. Nevertheless, we may be sure that the forthcoming enlargement of the Community will add to the pressure for significant reform of the CAP.

Common Fisheries Policy

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the current arrangements for 6 and 6 to 12 mile limits under the Common Fisheries Policy will expire in 2002 unless new derogations are agreed to.

Lord Donoughue: Yes. The current restrictions on foreign fishing vessels within our 6 and 12 mile fisheries limits will continue to apply until 31 December 2002. The Government are committed to securing their renewal after 2002 as part of the process of reviewing the Common Fisheries Policy.

The Commission, in the exchange of letters between the President of the Commission and the Prime Minister, has said that it seems unlikely that there will be a modification to the current access restrictions inside the 12 mile limits after 2002.

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are confident that the European Commission will find it necessary to report to the Council later this year with proposals for improvements in the enforcement of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Lord Donoughue: In his letter of 17 June to the Prime Minister, a copy of which has been deposited in the Libraries of the House, the President of the Commission stated that:

    "The Commission is examining improvements in enforcement within the framework of Council Regulation 2847/93 which establishes a monitoring regime for the Common Fisheries Policy. These may include strengthened obligations on Member States and clarification of the role of activity by the Commission's inspectors, to ensure that wherever fishermen land their catches, they are subject to equivalent measures. The Commission will report to the Council with proposals as necessary during 1997."

We have no reason to believe that the Commission will not fulfil this remit.

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect the European Commission to publish proposals for the review of the Common Fisheries Policy in 2002.

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Lord Donoughue: In accordance with Article 14(2) of Council Regulation 3760/92, the Commission has to report to the Council and European Parliament, by 31 December 2002 at the latest, on the situation of the fishing industry in the Community and on the operation of the Common Fisheries Policy. The Commission has said that it intends to consult very widely before drawing up its report and indicated that these consultations are likely to begin in the near future.

Sustainable Development: UN Special Session

Lord Merlyn-Rees asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will announce the outcome of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Sustainable Development.

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): The Special Session reviewed the progress made on sustainable development since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. One of the most important problems discussed was the need to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and thus limit the problems caused by climate change. In his address to the General Assembly, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister urged other developed countries to recognise their responsibilities in this area by pointing to the example that the United Kingdom and other European Union countries have already set. Later in the week, President Clinton acknowledged the role of the European Union in focusing the debate of this issue, and gave his personal commitment of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We expect this to be translated into action at Kyoto. Unfortunately, the agreement at the Special Session on climate change did not have the specific commitment to reductions that we had sought. Much hard negotiating work remains to be done, but the UK will continue to make every effort to get developed countries to agree legally binding targets for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at Kyoto in December.

We also emphasised the UK Government's commitment to reversing the decline in Britain's development assistance and improving its quality by refocusing our efforts in eradicating poverty. Although some other developed countries could not go as far as the UK, the meeting stressed the need to increase aid towards the UN target of 0.7 per cent. and pledged to negotiate a satisfactory replenishment of the Global Environment Facility. We cannot expect the poorest countries to take action themselves if the developed world is not more constructive about its aid programmes.

The continuing threat to the world's forests was a key issue for the Special Session. Although the European Union pressed hard for a Convention on forests, we were unable to secure agreement from other major countries. Nonetheless the establishment of an Intergovernmental Forum on Forests is a good step forward. The Forum will report in 1999 on the possible elements of a Forest Convention, and will also consider

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finance and trade issues. In addition, it will monitor implementation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests 1997 report, which contained over a hundred action points. As the UK's contribution to this effort, we announced that the UK intended to adopt a new Forest Standard to provide a benchmark for the regeneration of our forests. We also promised an increase in our development assistance for forestry management.

Together with our partners from the European Union, we have secured agreement for a plan of action to provide universal access to clean water and sanitation. One fifth of the world has no access to clean water and one half has no proper sanitation, so a new initiative is urgently needed. A series of meetings will take place to prepare for the 1998 meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development when there will be negotiations on the plan. A successful outcome of these negotiations will be a key objective for our presidency.

The European Union pressed for international action on sustainable energy management, and was successful in securing commitment to preparatory discussions in advance of the debate on energy in the 2001 session of the Commission on Sustainable Development. There was also agreement on the importance of energy management for both developed and developing countries, and on the need for energy prices to reflect their true environmental costs, as well as a gradual elimination of subsidies that inhibit sustainable development. The Special Session confirmed the importance of promoting integrated transport policies, since transport is the largest end user of energy in developed countries and the fastest growing one in most developing countries.

Under strong pressure from the European Union, the Special Session agreed that the possibility of an aviation fuel tax should remain on the international agenda. Studies will continue in international fora, especially the International Civil Aviation Organisation, on the use of economic instruments for the mitigation of the negative impacts on aviation.

Lastly, the European Union ensured that there would be further work at a global level to address the problems facing the world's oceans, especially the depletion of fish stocks.

There were also discussions on the financial implications of the Convention on Desertification. We supported the conclusion that the Convention should help channel existing resources more effectively but should not create a new and dedicated fund.

In conclusion, a number of modest but positive steps were made at the Special Session. Nevertheless much remains to be done, and the UK will continue to use its best endeavours to pursue these issues in the months to come.

The UK delegation included people representing the broad range of sustainable developments interests in the UK, and dependent territories. As a result of our strong commitment and constructive approach, the UK has now established itself as one of the leading players in international negotiations on sustainable development.

A copy of the final text of the document will be placed in the Library as soon as it is available.

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NATO Summit, 8-9 July: Programme

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will report on the agenda of the Prime Minister's visit to Madrid between 8 and 9 July for the NATO Summit.

Lord Richard: My right honourable friend the Prime Minister plans to join the other NATO Heads of Government in Madrid on 8 July. We will discuss the enlargement of NATO and expect to announce that a small number of countries should be invited to begin accession negotiations. We would be content for the number of countries to be set at three. We will also review progress on the development of the European Security and Defence Identity in NATO, following the decision taken by NATO Foreign Ministers at Berlin in 1996; and on the development of a new NATO Command Structure.

On 9 July we will sign with President Kuchma of Ukraine the NATO/Ukraine Charter, which will symbolise Ukraine's importance to European security and provide for increased NATO/Ukraine co-operation.

Heads of Government will also discuss greater co-operation with NATO's partner countries in the EURO-Atlantic Partnership Council, including military co-operation through NATO's programme of Partnership for Peace.

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