Select Committee on European Communities Seventeenth Report


Letter from the Rt Hon Joyce Quin MP, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  You will know that the Amsterdam Treaty introduced several changes to the arrangements within the European Union relating to its Common Foreign and Security Policy. One of the new instruments introduced was the Common Strategy. The Presidency have been taking forward work on the first of these—on Russia—so that it will be ready for adoption at the European Council in Cologne. It has taken some time for the draft to come close to is final form. But the Presidency have now circulated a text which is not likely to change significantly, though is still in theory open to amendment.

  The purpose of Common Strategies, as laid out in the amended Treaty on European Union, is to set the objectives, means and duration of the European Union's external policies towards a geographic or thematic area. We expect they will cover only major areas of policy, and will create a framework of objectives for each area they cover lasting for up to around five years. They will set objectives for all aspects of the European Union's external policies, including European Community (ie First Pillar) programmes. They will be agreed by unanimity, but subsequent implementing measures in the Second Pillar will be agreed by Qualified Majority Voting. Each of these implementing measures will of course be submitted for scrutiny separately as they are brought forward.

  The Vienna European Council agreed that work should start on Common Strategies on Russia, Ukrain, the Western Balkans, and the Mediterranean. The presidency have concentrated their efforts on the Common Strategy on Russia, which will be the only one ready for adoption at Cologne. Its main aims are as follows:

    —  to encourage the democratic reform process in Russia;

    —  to encourage economic reform;

    —  to promote regional and global stability and security;

    —  to promote cooperation with Russia on areas of common concern such as international crime and environmental questions.

  These main aims are followed by a series of narrower objectives, covering areas such as people-to-people exchanges, NGO activity or areas of economic policy. The Strategy also contains a section explaining how it is to be implemented, and details the means to be used to achieve the objectives.

  The Presidency hope that the 17 May General Affairs Council will agree a draft for submission to the Cologne European Council on 3 and 4 June. I am submitting an Explanatory Memorandum with this letter.

10 May 1999

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to the Rt Hon Ms Joyce Quin, Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

  Thank you for your letter of 10 May covering your Explanatory Memorandum on the common Strategy of the European Union on Russia. We have cleared that document through scrutiny, and we are grateful for your explanation of how Common Strategies, as a new instrument, will work. We shall watch developments with interest.

25 May 1999

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