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21 Oct 1999 : Column WA125

Written Answers

Thursday, 21st October 1999.

Council of the European Union:Forthcoming Business

Lord Grenfell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the forthcoming business in the Council of the European Union for October; and list the major European Union events for the next six months.[HL4305]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): This calendar is primarily concerned with European Union matters, but certain other relevant events are also included. Events and dates quoted are based on the information available on the date of issue.

October 1999
30 Sep-1 OctHelsinkiMinisterial Conference on Equality between Women and Men
1FlorenceTrade Ministers (Informal)
4-5LuxembourgJustice and Home Affairs Council
4-5TampereRegional Policy Ministers
4-8StrasbourgEuropean Parliament Plenary
6LuxembourgTransport Council
11-12LuxembourgGeneral Affairs Council
12LuxembourgEnvironment Council
15-16TampereSpecial European Council
18-19LuxembourgAgriculture Council
22LuxembourgLabour/Social Affairs Council
24-25HelsinkiEnergy Ministers Task Force Meeting
25-29StrasbourgEuropean Parliament Plenary
26LuxembourgFisheries Council
28LuxembourgResearch Council
29LuxembourgJustice and Home Affairs Council
November 1999
3-4BrusselsEuropean Parliament Plenary
8BrusselsConsumer Affairs Council
9BrusselsIndustry Council
11BrusselsDevelopment Council
11BrusselsStanding Committee Employment
12BrusselsLabour & Social Affairs Council
11-12HelsinkiMinisterial Conference on the Northern Dimension
15-16BrusselsAgriculture Council
15-16BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
15-19StrasbourgEuropean Parliament Plenary
16BrusselsEEA Council
18BrusselsHealth Council
22BrusselsFisheries Council (possible)
22-23BrusselsEU-ACP Ministerial Meeting (possible)
23BrusselsCulture/Audiovisual Council
23BrusselsYouth Council
25-26BrusselsBudget Council
26BrusselsEducation Council
29BrusselsECOFIN/Labour and Social Affairs Council
30BrusselsTelecommunications Council
December 1999
1-2BrusselsEuropean Parliament Plenary
2BrusselsEnergy Council
2BrusselsResearch Council
2-3BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
6-7BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
7BrusselsInternal Market Council
9-10BrusselsTransport Council
10-11HelsinkiEuropean Council
13-14BrusselsEnvironment Council
13-17StrasbourgEuropean Parliament Plenary
14-15BrusselsAgriculture Council
14-16BrusselsMinisterial Conference on following of progress on UN Beijing Platform for Action
16-17BrusselsFisheries Council
16-17BrusselsEU-ACP Council (possible)
January 2000
14BrusselsFisheries Council
18BrusselsBudget Council
24-25BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
24-25BrusselsAgriculture Council
28-29LisbonDevelopment Council (Informal)
February 2000
11-12LisbonSocial Affairs Council (Informal)
14-15BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
21-22BrusselsAgriculture Council
March 2000
3-4LisbonJustice and Home Affairs Council (Informal)
9BrusselsEuropean Conference
13BrusselsSocial Affairs/ECOFIN Council
16BrusselsInternal Market
20-21BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
20-21BrusselsAgriculture Council
23-24LisbonEuropean Council
27BrusselsJHA Council
28BrusselsTransport Council
30BrusselsEnvironment Council

21 Oct 1999 : Column WA126

General Affairs Council, 11 October

Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 11 October.[HL4303]

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The GAC adopted the A points listed in document 11573/99 and noted the resolutions, decisions and opinions adopted by the European Parliament in its session of 13-17 September listed in document 10352/1/99. Copies of the documents listing the A points and resolutions will be placed in the House Libraries as soon as they become available. Preparation of Tampere European Council The Presidency briefed the GAC on Finnish Prime Minister Lipponen's tour of capitals. The traditional letter of invitation to Tampere would issue very shortly. The Presidency also briefly mentioned external aspects of Justice and Home Affairs co-operation, in the context of preparation for Tampere. There was no discussion. Charter of Fundamental Rights After a very brief discussion, the Presidency concluded that there was agreement on its proposals for the composition and rules of procedures of the body responsible for preparing the first draft of the Charter. ESDP Military and Non-Military Crisis Management: Preparation in View of the European Council in Helsinki The Presidency briefed Ministers on work under way on European defence. Earthquake in Greece The Greek Foreign Minister reported to the Council on the extensive damage caused by the earthquake in Athens on 7 September. The Council encouraged the Commission to examine all possible ways of assisting Greece, making full use of the possibilities offered under the structural funds, on the basis of a specific evaluation of the damage. Northern Caucasus/Chechnya Ministers expressed their strong concern at the deteriorating human rights situation in Chechnya and at the risks of the conflict spreading. They supported the Commission package of 1.2 million euro of humanitarian aid. Western Balkans The Council agreed the Commission's proposal for a pilot of the “Energy for Democracy" programme in Serbia, which will supply heating oil and diesel to the towns of Nis and Pirot, where opposition parties run the local administration. The Council discussed the possibility of lifting the flight ban on Serbia, but no consensus was reached. The Council welcomed initiatives proposed by the UK on tackling organised crime in Kosovo. The Council asked the Commission and other relevant bodies to come up with proposals. Foreign Ministers will discuss the issue further when they meet at the Tampere Special European Council. Burma Foreign Ministers expressed their concern at the lack of progress on human rights in Burma. Ministers offered their full support for the forthcoming mission of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Burma and hoped that it would lead to an

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improvement in human rights and the promotion of democracy. The Council extended the EU's Common Position on Burma for a further six months, agreeing to review it after Mr de Soto's mission. EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports The GAC approved the first consolidated report on the operation of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports and agreed to publish the report in the Official Journal. The report summarises actions taken by member states to implement the provisions of the code and outlines priorities for future action. East Timor Foreign Ministers welcomed the deployment of the International Force in East Timor. The Commission announced its intention to provide further EC funds for the UN Mission in East Timor and for the eventual UN Transitional Authority in East Timor. Preparation for Seattle Ministerial The GAC discussed the EU's approach to the negotiations on a new multilateral trade round. They confirmed the EU's strong support for a comprehensive Round to be launched at the WTO Ministerial conference in Seattle (30 November to 3 December). Foreign Ministers had lunch with the Israeli Foreign Minister, David Levy. Mr Levy stressed the Israeli Government's commitment to the Middle East Peace Process, and the importance of restarting all tracks of the Process. He called for strengthened links between the EU and Israel. The GAC welcomed EU Special Envoy Moratinos' initiative for an “EU-Israel Forum". Meeting with Serb Opposition leaders The GAC met with representatives of democratic forces in the FRY. Foreign Ministers underlined the EU's readiness to support the people of the FRY in their efforts to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and the development of good regional and international relations. Co-operation Councils with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia The first ever Co-operation Councils with the three South Caucasus states took place on 12 October. Discussion covered political co-operation, trade and investment, democracy and human rights and co-operation in Justice and Home Affairs.

Millennium Preparedness Information:FCO Website

Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have about the preparedness of other countries to deal with the millennium bug.[HL4304]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been actively gathering information about the preparedness of other countries

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to deal with the millennium bug. This information is being made publicly available on the FCO website at So far, we have published information on 70 countries and these are continuously updated. More will follow soon. Copies of these statements have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

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