Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twenty-Fourth Report



Draft Council Decision on the signature of an Interim Agreement on trade and trade­related matters between the European Community and the Republic of Lebanon, and, draft Council Decision on the conclusion of an Interim Agreement on trade and trade­related matters between the European Community and the Republic of Lebanon.

Legal base:Article 133 in conjunction with Article 300(2) first indent and Article 300(3) second indent
Department:Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of consideration: EM of 11 April 2002
Previous Committee Report: None
To be discussed in Council: No date set
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared

  14.1  A Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement[18] is expected to be signed at the meeting of EuroMed Foreign Ministers in Valencia on 22-23 April 2002. Pending its ratification by the Member States, the Commission proposes that:

    "the Community conclude an Interim Agreement to allow the trade and trade-related elements of the Association Agreement to enter into force. The Conclusion of the Interim Agreement is conditional on the signature of the Association Agreement. In order to save time and to have the Interim Agreement in force as soon as possible, the two procedures have been launched in parallel".

  14.2  In an Explanatory Memorandum of 11 April, to which he attaches the unofficial text both of the draft Decision on signature and that on conclusion of the Interim Agreement, the Minister for Europe (Mr Peter Hain) says that it:

    "partly replaces the trade and trade-related provisions of the Co-operation Agreement of 1977 and will allow for the start of the 12 year transitional period to a free trade area upon entry into force. The Interim Agreement will be replaced by the Association Agreement upon the latter's entry into force ... [It] may be renounced by either party at six months' notice.

  14.3  The Minister says that the Interim Agreement will provide for:

    "—  Progressive establishment of a free trade area between the EC and Lebanon over a maximum period of 12 years, in conformity with the rules of the World Trade Organisation;

    —   Reconfirmation of the preferential regime provided to Lebanese industrial products exported to the EC, and the liberalisation of the Lebanese import regime for Community industrial products so that tariffs are reduced to zero by the end of the 12 year transition period.

    —  Specific reciprocal concessions for processed agricultural products;

    —   Liberalisation of agricultural products from Lebanon to the Community, except for a list of sensitive products for which specific concessions have been granted. Products from the Community will enter Lebanon on a concessional basis. New reciprocal tariff concessions will be examined by both sides five years after entry into force of the Agreement;

    —   Provisions on competition and intellectual property protection;

    —   Relations between the Parties and the provisions of the Agreement to be based on respect for democratic principles and fundamental human rights;

    —   Provision for the Co-operation Council, established by the 1977 Co-operation Agreement, to perform duties assigned to it by the Interim Agreement."

The Government's view

  14.4  The Minister comments:

    "The Agreement recognises the European Union's and Lebanon's desire to deepen their partnership. It introduces the trade aspects of the EU/Lebanon Association Agreement before ratification, and is a good example of the EC's and Lebanon's commitment to the Association Agreement process.

    "The Government hopes that the Interim Agreement will be quickly superseded by the entry into force of the EU/Lebanon Association Agreement after completion of national parliamentary procedures. Only then will the full benefits of the Association Agreement be realised."


  14.5  We recognise the value of introducing this interim agreement covering the trade aspects of the EU/Lebanon Association Agreement, so that the benefits to both signatories can take immediate effect, and look forward to the Agreement itself being ratified.

  14.6  We therefore clear the document.

18  (23368) - ; see paragraph 15 of this Report. Back

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Prepared 26 April 2002