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4 Jul 2001 : Column WA41

Written Answers

Wednesday, 4th July 2001.

Fur Farmers: Compensation

Lord Kimball asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider making ex gratia payments to fur farmers entitled to compensation under the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000 in recognition of the difficulties caused to them by the long period of time between the ban on compensatable investment in the businesses imposed in March 1999 and the likely commencement of the compensation scheme under the Act.[HL16]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The Government are committed to providing fair compensation to fur farmers put out of business by the ban on fur farming under the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000. As required under the Act, we will consult the industry on the details of the compensation scheme later this year. The Government will then consider the responses received and lay the necessary statutory instrument before Parliament. The Government understand the need to move as fast as possible on this matter.

Agriculture Council, 19 June 2001

Lord Haskel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Agricultural Council held in Luxembourg on 19 June.[HL182]

Lord Whitty: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State (Mrs Margaret Beckett) attended the meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers in Luxembourg on 19 June.

The Council adopted by qualified majority (Spain and Netherlands opposing) measures to tackle the problems in the EU beef market resulting from the discovery of BSE in certain continental countries late last year. We are pleased to secure important exemptions for United Kingdom farmers from the measures cutting back suckler cow production, in recognition of the particular impact of FMD, as well as rejection of the excessively bureaucratic proposals to impose individual farmer quotas on beef special premiums and to reimpose the 90 head limit on individual claims.

The Council also adopted--by qualified majority with Spain opposing and Portugal abstaining--rules to restrict the use of close confinement stalls for sows. This brings other countries into line with conditions already applying here. It is an important and welcome step to improve pig welfare across the Community, albeit less radically than we would have preferred.

4 Jul 2001 : Column WA42

The Council also resolved to improve the welfare of animals during transport, which I urged must be given effect speedily.

Colleagues were upated on the latest situation on FMD in the UK. The Council also discussed further measures on BSE, as a result of which the Commission will enact a range of further controls including an extension to the current ban on the use of animal protein in animal feed.

The Council unanimously adopted conclusions following up the Copenhagen Conference on organic food and farming, and setting the framework for a European Action Plan. It unanimously agreed proposals concerning the olive oil and hops regimes, inspection and control of animal feedingstuffs, a special aid scheme for small farmers and a common position on controlling undesirable substances in animal feed. By qualified majority, it agreed common positions on the processing, use and disposal of animal by-products and on classical swine fever (Germany and Austria opposing in both cases).

Treaty of Nice

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they anticipate that the enlargement process will be delayed as a result of the Irish referendum rejecting the Nice Treaty; and [HL47]

    Whether they will consider the renegotiation of any part of the Nice Treaty, in particular those parts that do not relate to the enlargement process, as a result of the rejection of the Treaty in the Irish referendum; and [HL48]

    How they intend to achieve "rapid progress on the enlargement of the European Union" in light of the Irish rejection of the Nice Treaty. [HL49]

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The 11 June General Affairs Council expressed regret at the result of the Irish referendum on the Treaty of Nice, while respecting the will of the Irish people. The GAC noted that the Irish Government is deeply and firmly committed to the EU and to the ratification of the Treaty of Nice. The Fourteen expressed their readiness to contribute in every possible way to help the Irish Government find a way forward, taking into account the concerns reflected by this result, without reopening the text of the Nice Treaty.

The Gothenburg European Council confirmed these conclusions, and reaffirmed that the ratification process for the Treaty of Nice will continue so that the Union is in a position to welcome new member states from the end of 2002.

Heads of State and Government also agreed that, provided progress towards meeting the accession criteria continues at an unabated pace, the enlargement road map should make it possible to complete negotiations by the end of 2002 for those candidate countries that are ready. The objective is that they should participate in the 2004 European Parliament elections as members.

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Council of the European Union: Forthcoming Business

Baroness Rendell of Babergh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the forthcoming business in the Council of the European Union for July, and what are the major European Union events for the period between 31 July and December.[HL162]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: See attached:

July 10--ECOFIN Meeting--Brussels

Draft Agenda

1. Work Programme of the Presidency

--Presentation and public discussion

2. Adoption of provisional agenda

3. (poss) Adoption of "A" points list

4. Follow-up of the European Council of Go


5. Public finances in the EMU

--Report of the Commission

6. Fiscal policy of the European Union

--Communication of the Commission

--Orientation debate

7. Calendar of the Tax package


8. Miscellaneous

PM Euro Group

Other business

5-6--Liege--Informal Employment and Social

Affairs Council

13-14--Brussels--Regional Territories Council


16-17--Brussels--General Affairs Council

20--Brussels--Budget Council

23-24--Brussels--Agriculture Council

No agendas for the above are available yet.

The following are the principal events in the EU between 1 August and December 2001 (certain relevant events are also included: the list is based on the information available at the date of issue).

European Calendar: August 2001-December 2001

August 2001 There are no Councils scheduled for August September 2001
6-7BrugesExternal Trade Council (Ministerial Informal)
14-16Leuven and Louvain- la-neuveEnvironment Council (Ministerial Informal)
16-18Alden BiezenAgriculture Council (Ministerial Informal)
22-23LiegeECOFIN (Informal)
24-25BrusselsAgriculture Council
27BrusselsInternal Market, Consumers and Tourism Council
27-28BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
October 2001
1BrusselsResearch Council
1BrusselsEuropean Union Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session (Possible)
8BrusselsEmployment and Social Affairs Council
8-9LuxembourgGeneral Affairs Council
9BrusselsUrban Metropolitan Policy Council (Ministerial Informal)
11-12BrusselsDefence Council (Ministerial Informal)
15-16BrusselsTransport and Telecommunications Council (Possible)
19GhentEuropean Council (Informal)
22-23BrusselsAgriculture Council
25BrusselsFisheries Council
29BrusselsEnvironment Council
29-30BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
November 2001
5BrusselsCultural and Audio-visual Council
8BrusselsDevelopment and Co-operation Council
9BrusselsEuropean Union Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session
12BrusselsEmployment and Social Affairs
15BrusselsHealth Council
16BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
19-20BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
19-20BrusselsAgriculture Council
19-20BrusselsCapabilities Improvement Conference (Defence Ministers present)
21-22BrusselsBudget Council (Possible)
26BrusselsInternal Market, Consumers and Tourism Council
27BrusselsFisheries Council (Possible)
29BrusselsEducation and Youth Council
December 2001
3BrusselsEmployment and Social Affairs Council
4BrugesCulture Council (Informal)
4BrusselsEnergy Council
5BrusselsIndustry Council
7-8BrusselsTransport and Telecommunications Council
7-8BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
10BrusselsResearch Council
10-11BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
12-13BrusselsEnvironment Council
14-15Brussels/ LaekenEuropean Council
17-18BrusselsAgriculture Council
19-20BrusselsFisheries Council

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4 Jul 2001 : Column WA45

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