Letter to Lord Grenfell Chairman Select Committee on the European Union House of Lords from The Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP Minister for Europe Foreign and Commonwealth Office dated November by Parliament

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									The Lord Grenfell Chairman The Select Committee on the European Union Committee Office House of Lords London SW1A 0AA November 2006

GENERAL AFFAIRS AND EXTERNAL RELATIONS COUNCIL, BRUSSELS, 13-14 NOVEMBER 2006 The General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will take place on 1314 November in Brussels. My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mrs. Margaret Beckett) and I will represent the UK. My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Des Browne) will represent the UK at the Defence Ministers’ discussions. The agenda items are as follows:

General Affairs Preparation of the European Council on 14/15 December 2006 Ministers will discuss the draft agenda for the December European Council. This groups together the issues under 4 broad headings (enlargement; an area of freedom, security and justice; innovation and energy; and external). Enlargement The Commission is expected to brief the Council on the enlargement package published on 8 November, including progress reports on Turkey, Croatia and the Western Balkans, as well an enlargement strategy paper. Commission Legislative Work Programme 2007 The Commission will present its priorities for 2007: prosperity, solidarity, security, a strong voice in the world and delivery and better regulation. The paper has a strong focus on the Lisbon agenda, promising a dynamic internal market together with interlocking measures to foster knowledge, innovation and a sustainable environment for growth.

External Relations Western Balkans UN Status Envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, will brief the Council on latest developments in Kosovo. Ministers will also discuss Serbia. Relations with Russia The Council will discuss the negotiating mandate for the successor to the EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and the EU-Russia Summit, to be held on 24 November. Middle East Peace Process We expect ministers to discuss the deteriorating security situation, particularly in Gaza. The Council is likely to focus on concrete actions the EU can take to build confidence and momentum, such as work on Palestinian institutional capacity. Iran We expect the Council to receive an update on discussions in New York. Democratic Republic of Congo The Council is expected to discuss the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo following the 29 October Presidential elections. In joint session, Defence and Foreign Ministers will discuss future EU engagement with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Defence Ministers’ discussions Military Capabilities/ Operations As part of the military Headline Goal 2010, work on producing the Force Catalogue is complete. The Catalogue is a list of military capabilities that Member States have declared available for an ESDP operation. On operations, the Council will discuss EUFOR’s mission in DRC. The UN mandate will expire on 30 November and given the situation may be volatile following the elections, a short extension may be required. The Council will also discuss EUFOR transition following the recent elections in Bosnia, and Darfur where the UK supports the extended AMIS mission, whilst continuing to bring pressure to bear on the Sudanese government to accept a UN operation.

Civil-military Coordination The Presidency have completed work on a paper for improving information sharing in support of EU crisis management operations. In December High Representative Solana is due to present a progress report and proposals for moving forward postHampton Court work on crisis management structures and Secretariat reform. European Defence Agency We expect the Council to discuss the operational budget and the financial framework for 07-09. Civilian Capabilities Improvement Conference The Civilian Capabilities Conference will take place in the margins of the Council to discuss the development of civilian ESDP capabilities.

I am writing in similar terms to Mr Michael Connarty MP, Chairman of the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee. I am copying this letter to the Clerks of both Committees; Les Saunders at the Cabinet Office; Nick Latta, FCO Scrutiny Coordinator; and Tammy Sandhu, FCO Select Committee Liaison officer.

GEOFF HOON


								
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