Written Answers. - EU Conference.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

77 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent EU conference in London. [8255/98]

The European conference was inaugurated in London on 12 March. The conference was established by the European Council at its meeting in Luxembourg on 12 and 13 December 1997 for the purpose of bringing together the member states of the European Union with the European states aspiring to accede to it and sharing its values and objectives.

The conference is envisaged as a multilateral forum for political consultation, intended to address issues of general concern to the participants, as well as broadening and deepening co-operation in a range of areas of common concern. These areas include foreign and security policy, justice and home affairs, economic matters and regional co-operation.
The inaugural meeting of the conference was attended by the Heads of State or Government and Foreign Ministers of the 15 EU member states, the ten Central and Eastern European applicants (CEECs) and Cyprus. The Deputy will be aware that Turkey, which was also invited to the conference, declined to attend. We would wish to encourage the Presidency in its efforts to persuade Turkey of the benefits of future participation in the conference.
The conference provided a useful forum for the discussion of issues which are of concern to all participants, namely, drugs, crime and the environment. At the conference, the Taoiseach indicated Ireland's strong support for efforts at international and European level to control the trade on illicit drugs.