|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Bilateral funding for global mine clearance operations in the last five years is as follows:
Ministry of Defence also contributes towards demining operations, for example through the involvement of UK Armed Forces personnel in the monitoring and co-ordination of mine clearance operations by Bosnian authorities. It is not possible separately to identify the costs associated with these tasks.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The six diplomats, and their families, who were withdrawn from posts in the United Kingdom after representations from this department in 1996 were from the following missions:
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The figure of 34 alleged serious offences in 1996 by those entitled to diplomatic immunity (from a diplomatic community of 17,000) compares with similar offences committed by the population of the United Kingdom as follows:
|Offence description||England and Wales||Northern Ireland||Diplomatic Corps.|
|Breach of the peace||6||3||2|
|Actual bodily harm||13||10||1|
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Work to make good the Government's commitment to strengthen monitoring of end-use of defence exports is being taken forward alongside the Government's other commitments on export controls. We shall consider how best to announce the results once this work is complete.
The Council began with a debate on the Luxembourg presidency programme. The Luxembourg Foreign Minister outlined their priorities: the Special European Council on Employment in October; preparation for enlargement; relations with Africa; and the fight against drugs. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs made clear that we want to take forward the Agenda 2000 package presented by the Commission, with a view to the early launching of the next stage in the enlargement process. We also need to ensure that the EU focuses on issues of concern to its citizens: above all on jobs.
The Commission presented its Agenda 2000 Communication (covering enlargement, policy reform and future financing). Member states held an initial exchange of views. Three (Italy, Sweden and Denmark) opposed the Commission's recommendation that the EU should negotiate only with those central European applicants which it judged sufficiently prepared. There was a general recognition of the need for policy reform, but some of the principal CAP and structural and cohesion fund beneficiaries made clear their concerns. Detailed discussion will begin in the autumn, with a view to the Luxembourg European Council taking the necessary decisions so that accession negotiations can begin in early 1998, during the UK's Presidency of the EU.
The EU special envoy on the Middle East peace process briefed the Council on developments in the region. The Council discussed ways in which the European Union could contribute to ending the current deadlock and to a resumption of negotiations on the basis of the agreements signed between the two sides. The Council had meetings with the Israeli Foreign Minister, David Levy, and the presidency of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat.
The Council discussed a report from the European Commission on exports to the European Union from the Occupied Territories in the context of the European Community interim association agreements with Israel and the PLO.
The presidency and the Netherlands put forward new proposals on the trade aspects of the overseas countries and territories mid-term review, including quotas for rice (160,000 tonnes) and sugar (3,000 tonnes). There was no discussion and the item was remitted for further discussion in the working group, with a view to a decision being taken at the 15 September General Affairs Council.
The Council agreed, by a qualified majority, the framework agreement on humane trapping standards and a list of countries from which the import of furs into the European Union will be permitted. It also agreed a declaration that the Commission would do everything possible to accelerate the implementation of the agreement. We argued that the Community should not put its name to an agreement which continued to allow the use of leghold traps, which we consider inhumane. The United Kingdom therefore voted against the framework agreement, with the support of Austria and Belgium. We also tabled a minutes statement explaining why we had voted against the proposal and pointing out that we consider the agreement to be an interim measure only and expect work to continue to ensure that the use of leghold traps is brought to an end as quickly as possible.
The Council welcomed the holding of acceptable parliamentary elections on 29 June and 6 July in Albania. They urged Albanians to respect the results and to pursue the process of national reconciliation. The EU is committed to continuing its assistance to Albania, on condition that the Albanian authorities work towards stabilisation, democratisation and economic recovery. Law and order must be restored, while respecting human rights.
The EU will co-operate closely with other international organisations under the co-ordinating framework of the OSCE. They encourage a "common international agenda" on Albania, in co-operation with the Albanian authorities.
The High Representative, Carlos Westendorp, reported to the Council on the situation in Bosnia. The Council condemned terrorist acts against SFOR and other international organisations and reiterated the international community's determination to penalise those responsible for failures to comply with the commitments agreed at the meeting of the steering board of the Peace Implementation Council at Sintra on 30 May.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|