Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twenty-Fourth Report


EURO-MEDITERRANEAN ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT WITH ALGERIA


(23369)



(a) Draft Council Decision on the signature of a Euro­Mediterranean Association Agreement between the European Community and its Member States and the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria on behalf of the European Community; and
  
(b) Draft Council Decision on the conclusion of a Euro­Mediterranean Association Agreement between the European Community and its Member States and the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria.


Legal base:(a) Article 310 in conjunction with the first sentence of the first sub-paragraph of Article 300(2); unanimity
(b) Article 310 in conjunction with Article 300(3); unanimity
Document originated:
Forwarded to the Council: 25 March 2002
Deposited in Parliament: 18 April 2002
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



  16.1  On 10 June 1996 the Council approved a mandate for the Commission to negotiate a new Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement with Algeria. The Agreement was initialled by the Commission and Algeria on 19 December 2001. It will widen the scope of the Co-operation Agreement signed in 1976, which it will replace.

  16.2  The Commission now proposes that the Council authorises it, on behalf of the European Community, to sign the Agreement and then, after the assent of the European Parliament has been obtained, to sign a Decision concluding the Agreement. As a mixed competence agreement, it will also be signed and concluded by the Member States. Before coming into force it will need to be ratified by the Member States, and approved by Algeria, as well as by the European Community.

  16.3  The Decision to conclude the Agreement is subject to parliamentary scrutiny but there is no requirement for scrutiny of the Council Decision authorising signature. As the Commission has produced both Decisions in one document, the Minister for Europe (Mr Peter Hain) has submitted an EM on both, so as to provide us with an indication of the terms before signature. Normally, a Minister informs us of such Decisions by letter.

  16.4  The Agreement is one of the latest in a series of Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements to be concluded under the EU's Mediterranean policy, launched at the Essen European Council in December 1994, and is similar in content and form to the others[25]. It is for an unlimited period, but either Party may denounce it on six months' notice to the other.

  16.5  The Minister says that the Agreement will be signed at the meeting of Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers in Valencia on 22-23 April 2002. A similar Agreement with the Republic of Lebanon is also expected to be signed at Valencia[26].

Objectives of the Agreement

  16.6  The Minister comments that the main objectives of the Agreement are to provide an appropriate framework for political dialogue, to strengthen economic relations between the Community and Algeria, to encourage regional co-operation, to consolidate economic and political stability, and to promote co-operation in other areas of reciprocal interest.

Provisions of the Agreement

  16.7  The Minister summarises the proposed Agreement as providing for:

    "—  regular political dialogue. Respect for democratic principles and human rights will be an essential element of the Agreement;
  • a free trade area, to be established in stages, in accordance with WTO [World Trade Organisation] rules, between the Community and Algeria, over a maximum period of 12 years, including liberalisation of trade in industrial products, and further liberalisation of trade in agricultural, processed agricultural and fisheries products;

  • a safeguard clause and an anti-dumping/countervailing clause confirming the Parties' right to take action in accordance with the WTO;

  • provision for the extension of the Agreement to cover establishment of companies and trade in services, taking account of obligations arising out of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS);

  • further removal of restrictions on the movement of capital between the Community and Algeria;

  • the introduction of rules within five years of the entry into force of the agreement in relation to competition within the free trade area;

  • protection of intellectual, industrial and commercial property;

  • provision for co-operation on counter terrorism issues;

  • co-operation in a wide range of areas, including education and training, science and technology, environment, industry, investment, financial services, agriculture, transport, telecommunications and information technology, energy, tourism, customs, statistics, money laundering, and drugs;

  • a dialogue on social and cultural matters;

  • financial co-operation, aimed at modernising the Algerian economy and promoting private investment;

  • the establishment of an Association Council, which will meet when both sides consider necessary, at Ministerial level to examine any issues arising within the framework of the Agreement. An Association Committee of senior officials will assist it; and

  • appropriate measures by either Party, including, implicitly, suspension of the Agreement if it considers that the other Party has failed to fulfil its obligations under the Agreement."

The Government's view

  16.8  The Minister comments briefly. He says:

    "The Agreement recognises the European Union's desire to deepen its partnership with Algeria. It provides a comprehensive framework for political dialogue at all levels, and for the development of trade between the EU and Algeria. The Agreement does not impose any new burdens on business. On the contrary, it will bring new opportunities to UK exporters".

  16.9  He adds:

    "The Agreement does not cover EC aid to Algeria. At present, Algeria is eligible for European Investment Bank loans, and EC funding under the MEDA Regulation.

    "Depending on the extent of the increase in imports to the EU and the sectors concerned, there may be additional costs to the EC budget if internal production of agricultural products is diverted to subsidised exports, intervention storage or other means of disposal. Any such costs will have to be contained within the budgetary ceilings set out within the financial perspective as agreed at the Berlin Summit in March 1999".

Conclusion

  16.10  It is not surprising that this Euro-Mediterranean Agreement is to be signed under the Spanish Presidency. It follows similar agreements with other Mediterranean members of the partnership and is of particular importance to Spain. As it requires ratification by the Member States, as well as approval by Algeria, it will be some time before it enters into force.

  16.11  We now clear the document.



25  Association Agreements have been signed with Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, Israel and Egypt and an interim Association Agreement has been signed with the Palestinian Authority. Back

26  (23368) - ; see paragraph 15 of this Report. Back


 
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