Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Third Report


SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

1.   We consider that the Government should assess how it could develop its policies and approaches to Central and Eastern Europe to improve British trade and investment involvement. (Paragraph 15)

2.   We urge the Government to continue to work actively to maintain and strengthen the commitment of the EU Member States to the enlargement process and to work jointly with other key countries such as Germany to provide strategic direction and momentum to the process. (Paragraph 18)

3.   The Committee supports the United Kingdom's aim, as expressed in the FCO's memorandum, of ensuring "the UK gets good value for money while making a fair contribution to the EU budget." The committee believes that the United Kingdom's rebate continues to be fully justified. It supports the position of the government in defending the rebate. (Paragraph 35)

4.   We believe that the CAP must be reformed, though the Government should aim to ensure that any such reform should enable sustainable and affordable enlargement to proceed. Any reform which creates long-term discrimination between existing and new Member States will be both unsustainable and unacceptable. We support the Government in its efforts to secure substantial reform of the CAP through the introduction of co-financing and degressive direct-aid payments. (Paragraph 41)

5.   The Committee believes that the reformed structural funds should be both fair and transparent and that the applicant countries should, subject to transitional periods and the 4% ceiling, be treated equally with other Member States upon accession. (Paragraph 46)

6.   The Committee supports reform of the structural funds to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. The Government must continue strenuously to negotiate for Objective 1 status for a number of the most deprived regions of the United Kingdom and must protect the funding that will make such status meaningful. (Paragraph 49)

7.   The Government must ensure that, at this stage in its history, Northern Ireland should continue to receive special dispensation in relation to the Peace Initiative and the International Fund for Ireland. (Paragraph 50)

8.   The Committee believes that more should be done to explain the implications and opportunities of EU enlargement, and considers that the Government should put forward specific proposals to improve public understanding and knowledge in the United Kingdom and throughout the EU. (Paragraph 51)

9.   The Committee considers it important that a clear and fair agreement on the major elements of Agenda 2000 is reached during the German Presidency in order not to impede the enlargement process. There must be fair and effective reform of the CAP and the structural funds if enlargement is to proceed. (Paragraph 52)

10.   We are concerned that reforms to voting weights and the composition of the Commission proposed in the institutional protocol to the Amsterdam Treaty are insufficient to provide for the EU's requirements in the context of the current enlargement. We urge the Government to give greater consideration to the institutional structures which will be appropriate for a European Union of 25 or more Member States. (Paragraph 57)

11.   We believe that the Government should oppose any extension of Qualified Majority Voting into areas which affect the United Kingdom's national interest.

(Paragraph 58)

12.   We recognise the need for further reform of the EU's institutions in the context of enlargement. However, we believe that the Government should ensure that any such reform does not adversely affect the United Kingdom's interests.

(Paragraph 59)

13.   We agree with the Government that the United Kingdom should retain its right to nominate two Commissioners unless and until a satisfactory agreement on reforms to the voting system within the Council are reached. (Paragraph 59)

14.   We recommend that the Government should work to ensure general agreement on those aspects of EU reform which will ensure the effective functioning of EU institutions after the admission of ten or more new Member States.

(Paragraph 60)

15.   We believe that the Government should consider measures which would allow applicant states to have a more formal role in consultations on future EU positions and policies at Ministerial and official level. (Paragraph 63)

16.   We consider that the Government should give serious consideration to the adoption of a non-binding target date for initial accessions to the EU, and to promote this within the EU as a desirable policy approach. (Paragraph 70)

17.   We believe that the Government should promote further means whereby the EU's sustained commitment to all applicant states may be demonstrated, irrespective of their progress towards accession. (Paragraph 72)

18.   The Committee supports the view that enlargement must not involve a differentiation between different classes of Member States and considers that the four freedoms of the single market—the free movement of goods, capital, services and persons—should apply upon accession or as soon as practicable thereafter. (Paragraph 78)

19.   The Committee believes that the Government should urge the EU to give closer attention to the impact of its current enlargement policies on relations between countries in the region and to ensure they do not exacerbate divisions between countries. (Paragraph 79)

20.   We believe that it is vital that there is adequate information and widespread discussion in the applicant countries about joining the EU and that accession does not remain simply a choice made by political elites on behalf of their populations. We therefore urge the United Kingdom and the EU to work with the applicants on improving the functioning of democracy in general and the treatment of minorities in particular. (Paragraph 81)

21.   We consider that the Government should make it clear that Turkey does not have a veto over the accession of Cyprus, and that Cyprus, even in its present divided state, may therefore be admitted to the EU on the same basis as all other applicants. (Paragraph 88)

22.   We believe that the Government should recognise the possibility that enlargement will disproportionately reduce the United Kingdom's influence within the institutions of the EU. We recommend that the Government pursue a vigorous political and diplomatic strategy for the defence of the United Kingdom's proper and proportionate influence within the EU. (Paragraph 89)

23.   We believe that commitment to the process of enlargement must mean a commitment of resources to increasing relations with applicant states at all levels: diplomatic, administrative, commercial and industrial. We look forward to witnessing the "good results . . . in the near future"which Ms Quin promised would result from the increased commitment of FCO resources and diplomatic activity in the applicant states. (Paragraph 92)

24.   We recommend that the Foreign Secretary should in 1999 visit those countries in the "first wave" which he has not already visited, and that the Prime Minister should promote the further development of a comprehensive programme of Ministerial visits to all applicant states. (Paragraph 94)

25.   We recommend that the Government review the present levels of specialist expertise on the countries of Central and Eastern Europe within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and more generally within the United Kingdom, and ensure that such expertise is developed to reflect the importance to the United Kingdom of these future Member States. (Paragraph 95)

26.   The Committee concludes that now is not the time to reduce Know How Fund expenditure to the "first wave" applicant states. (Paragraph 97)

27.   We are concerned that some elements of the PHARE programme, which is a major plank of the EU's assistance to the applicant states, are apparently not as effective and useful as they could be. We hope that the Government will investigate the effectiveness of the EU's assessment and evaluation of applicant countries' responses to this new focus of the PHARE programme. (Paragraph 99)

28.   We recommend that the Government, in its discussions with EU partners, emphasises the need to maintain and develop the bilateral and multilateral relationships between the EU, the applicant states and other European states throughout the process of accession. (Paragraph 100)

29.   We believe that the Government should make every effort to ensure that the historic opportunity of enlargement is not lost, and that security and stability in Europe is thereby enhanced. (Paragraph 107)


 
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Prepared 11 March 1999