Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman

  Following my letter of 4 October 2005[55] informing you of progress in the EU's relationship with Iraq, I would like to take this opportunity to update you on further developments on EU-Iraq trade co-operation.

  At the 7 November 2005 General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC), the EU reiterated its commitment to establish contractual trade and co-operation relations with Iraq. This was in line with the June 2004 Commission Communication "The European Union and Iraq: a Strategy for Engagement". EU Partners are currently discussing the negotiating mandate for a Trade and Co-operation Agreement with Iraq. We expect EU Foreign Ministers to approve this mandate at the 20 March GAERC with a view to negotiations commencing once the constitutionally elected Iraqi Government is in place.

  Under the Agreement, Iraq would benefit from improved access to EU markets as well as co-operation in a wide range of areas including science and technology, environment, energy, industry, investment, financial services, transport and telecommunications. The Agreement will help Iraq prepare for WTO membership and provide a framework for EU technical assistance and capacity building efforts in Iraq. The negotiations will also cover co-operation on Human Rights, Counter-terrorism, the International Criminal Court, and Non-proliferation. We fully support the approval of the negotiating mandate as another important step in increasing EU engagement with Iraq.

  Member States will be consulted regularly during the negotiations. Once the negotiations have been completed, the Council will need to take a formal Decision to endorse it on the part of the European Community. A draft of this Decision will submitted for Parliamentary Scrutiny in the normal way for consideration by your Committee. To the extent that the Agreement extends beyond the scope of the Community's competences, the nature and the structure—either a mixed agreement or two parallel agreements concluded by the EU and the EC respectively—will be determined during the negotiations.

15 March 2006

Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman

  My predecessor wrote to you on 15 March regarding progress on the mandate for negotiating an EU-Iraq Trade and Co-operation agreement and agreed to keep you informed of further developments in taking forward the EU's relationship with Iraq. I am writing to inform you that the Commission intends to issue a Communication on EU-Iraq engagement on 7 June for consideration at the 12 June General Affairs and External Relations Council. This timetabling was only announced at the end of last week.

  On 9 June 2004, the Commission issued a Communication entitled "The European Union and Iraq: A Framework for engagement". This set out a medium-term strategy for EU engagement with Iraq as a response to the new Iraqi Interim Government and the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1546.

  With a constitutionally elected government now in place, this is a timely opportunity to take stock of progress against the 2004 Communication and to take a fresh look at how the EU can engage with Iraq, starting with political dialogue with the new government. Given that the EU has implemented the actions identified in the 2004 Communication, the Commission now intends to issue a revised Communication setting out its recommendations for a renewed engagement on 7 June 2006. The Communication should send a strong signal of the EU's commitment to engage with the new government. It should also set out the EU's commitment to support the political process, including the Constitutional Review; promote security and stability in Iraq and the region, and engage with the new government to lay the foundations for longer-term relations. An Explanatory Memorandum on the Communication will follow once it has issued

  We expect the Communication to be endorsed at the 12 June 2006 General Affairs and External Relations Council. Unfortunately, given that there are only three working days between issue of the Communication and the GAERC, Member States will have to consider the Communication before your Committee has had the chance to complete scrutiny.

6 June 2006

55   Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, pp 254-255. Back

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