Letter from the Minister for Europe, Foreign
and Commonwealth Office (Peter Hain) to the Chairman of the Committee
GENERAL AFFAIRS COUNCIL: 11-12 JUNE 2001
I am writing to inform you of the outcome of discussions
at the General Affairs Council (GAC), in place of my reply to
the usual Parliamentary Question.
The GAC on 11 June adopted the 'A' Points listed
in document no. 9555/01 and noted the resolutions, decisions and
opinions adopted by the European Parliament in its part-sessions
of 2-3 May in Brussels and of 14-17 May in Strasbourg listed in
document numbers 7207/01 and 8507/01. Copies of these documents
have been placed in the libraries of both Houses.
Irish Referendum Ratification of the Nice
The Council agreed conclusions which made clear that
the Fourteen would contribute in every possible way to help the
Irish Government find a way forward, taking into account the concerns
reflected in the Irish referendum result, but that there would
be no reopening of the Nice Treaty text, that the ratification
process would continue in line with the agreed timetable, and
that the Union was committed to sustaining progress in the accession
The crisis in Macedonia dominated GAC discussions.
The GAC strongly condemned continuing separatist violence and
urged the democratically elected Macedonian government to maintain
a proportionate response. The Council welcomed President Trajkovski's
strategy for disarmament and encouraged the authorities to begin
the implementation as soon as possible. It also invited Prime
Minister Georgievski to the 25-26 June GAC to inform it of progress
in the agreed programme of political reforms aimed at meeting
the rights of all people in the country regardless of ethnic origin.
The GAC welcomed the unilateral demobilisation by
ethnic Albanian armed groups in Southern Serbia and the generally
peaceful completion of the entry of Yugoslav security forces into
the Ground Safety Zone. It called on the FRY/Serbian authorities
and ethnic Albanian representatives to make rapid progress on
further confidence building measures, including multi-ethnic policing.
The Council warmly welcomed the promulgation by the
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General of the constitutional
framework for provisional self-government in Kosovo. This constituted
an important step in the implementation of UNSCR 1244 and provides
the basis for Kosovo-wide elections scheduled for 17 November.
The Council further welcomed the measures taken by UNMIK to counter
illegal border crossings and illegal possession of arms, as well
as the imminent adoption of a regulation to help combat terrorism
The Council adopted a report on the Western Balkans
countries progress under the Stabilisation and Association Process
(SAP). The SAP is a policy framework which provides each country
with a road map towards European integration, subject to fulfilling
necessary conditions on regional co-operation and political and
economic reform. Operational conclusions set out the next steps
on the EU's relations with each country, including a call on the
Commission to draw up a negotiating mandate for a Stabilisation
and Association Agreement (SAA) with Albania.
The GAC welcomed the Framework Agreement on Succession
Issues reached on 25 May by five Succession States of the former
Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). The agreement constitutes an historic
breakthrough on this longstanding and difficult issue, e.g. division
of state property.
The Council endorsed the document on EU priorities
within the Stability Pact for the South Eastern Europe as a basis
for further focussing the Pact process.
Middle East Peace Process
Ministers discussed the latest developments, notably
in the light of information given by Secretary-General/High Representative
Solana following his visit to the region (on 9-10 June) with Prime
Minister Persson during which meetings were held with Israeli
Prime Minister Sharon, Prime Minister Ragheb of Jordan, and Chairman
Arafat of the Palestinian Authority. Solana also briefed Ministers
on the philosophy behind the report he would present to the Gothenburg
In the margins of the Council, Ministers met separately
with the Palestinian Minister for International Co-operation,
Nabil Shaath, and with the Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Preparations for Gothenburg European Council
The Presidency outlined its plans for Gothenburg
where among other topics Heads of State and Government would discuss
enlargement, the future of Europe, sustainable development, the
Middle East, and the Western Balkans. It would be preceded by
the EU/US Summit.
The Presidency and Commission briefed the GAC on
preparations for the EU/US Summit in Gothenburg on 14 June 2001.
They expected the following would be discussed: the Middle East,
Western Balkans, North Korea, climate change, communicable diseases
in Africa, WTO and bilateral trade issues. President Bush would
join EU Heads of State and Government and Commission President
Prodi for a working dinner. Secretary of State Powell would join
EU Foreign Ministers, High Representative/Council Secretary-General
Solana and Commissioner Patten at a separate dinner.
The GAC adopted conclusions expressing satisfaction
at the Swedish Presidency's success in adhering to the Nice European
Council road map for the accession negotiations. This included
reaching agreed positions on complex issues such as the free movement
of persons and of capital. The GAC also agreed conclusions concerning
the Spanish Memorandum on Regional Policy, these reaffirmed that
enlargement negotiations will aim to respect the road map set
out at the Nice European Council and will be conducted within
the framework of the Financial Perspective for 2000-2006 agreed
at the Berlin European Council in March 1999. They noted that,
while enlargement will have consequences for all Member States
and for the functioning and development of Community policies,
these issues will be addressed in accordance with [previously]
Partnership for Europe
Austria proposed widening membership of the European
Conference beyond EU Member States and candidates, and to establish
a Conference Secretariat in the Commission.
AOB: One-day cruises between Turkey and Greece
Greece's concern to maintain one-day visa-free trips
to the Greek islands from Turkey, following the entry into force
of the Common Visa List, was noted. The GAC agreed to return to
this issue at its next session on 25-26 June in Luxembourg, following
consideration by technical experts.
In the margins: Accession Conferences with EU
The Presidency chaired Accession Conferences at Ministerial
level with the 12 EU candidates in negotiations to join the EU
(i.e. all bar Turkey) on 11-12 June. These saw the provisional
closure of further chapters of the acquis communautaire
(i.e. the body of EU legislation and practice) by each candidate.
Cyprus and Hungary have now closed 22, Slovenia 20, the Czech
Republic and Estonia 19, Slovakia and Lithuania 17, Poland and
Malta 16, Latvia 15, Bulgaria 10 and Romania 6.
No formal votes were taken on the points under discussion
at the GAC.
I am addressing a separate copy of this letter to
the Lords European Union Committee, care of the Scrutiny Clerk,
Mr L Saunders, Cabinet Office European Secretariat, and to Sir
19 June 2001
[For a report on the Transport Council held on 27-28
June 2001, see Official Report, 9 July 2001, cols. 322-4 W.]