COMMISSION ENLARGEMENT STRATEGY PAPER
AND PROGRESS REPORTS
(21834 - 21836;
21846 - 21852;
21866 - 21868)
13366/00 - 13788/00
Enlargement Strategy Paper: Report on progress towards
accession by each of the candidate countries.
Regular reports for 2000 from the Commission on
progress towards accession by Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech
Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta,
Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey.
||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Basis of consideration:
||Minister's letter of 5 February 2001
|Previous Committee Report:
||HC 28-iv (2000-01), paragraph 6 (24 January 2001)
|Discussed in Council:
||4 December 2000 |
The Enlargement Strategy Paper
11.1 The strategy paper sets out at some
length the historical context, the enlargement process, and the
pre-accession strategy, before making some general comments on
the progress of the candidate countries in meeting the membership
criteria. It then describes the accession negotiations, before
recording its formal conclusions. This document accompanies the
third set of annual reports by the Commission on the progress
of each of the candidate countries towards EU membership.
The Commission's assessment
11.2 In the 13 individual progress reports,
the Commission assesses each candidate country's readiness against
the "Copenhagen criteria" agreed at the 1993 European
Council. It found that, in general, most candidates have made
good progress towards meeting the obligations of EU membership
since last year. The progress reports highlight progress in transposing
the acquis communautaire (the corpus of EU law) and in
economic restructuring. They point up areas, including corruption
and public administration reform, which need further work.
11.3 We asked the Minister of State at the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr Keith Vaz) to comment more
fully on these documents when we considered them on 24 January.
We put several specific questions and also asked him to forward
the 4 December 2000 General Affairs Council (GAC) Report on Enlargement
to the Nice European Council.
The Minister's letter
Acceptance of the Applicant States
11.4 We asked if the Government had reached
a view on whether the applicant States should be accepted in one
group, (the "Big Bang" approach), or in smaller groups
or individually, (the "regatta" approach). The Minister
recalls that the Prime Minister said on 6 October 2000 in Warsaw
that the Government wanted to see new Member States taking part
in the European Parliament elections in 2004. He adds:
"We want as many new members as are ready to
take part in those elections. And those that are ready should
not wait for others who are not. It is not possible to predict
at this stage which Member States will be ready to join when."
The road map
11.5 We asked the Minister whether the Government
agreed with the schedules drawn up by the Commission in this detailed
timetable. He welcomes it as:
"a specific framework leading to an early end
of the negotiations and accession... committing the EU to bring
forward its Common Positions in all remaining chapters over the
next eighteen months and signalling the possibility of completing
negotiations with the best prepared countries in 2002. We fully
support the flexible approach to the road map endorsed by the
Council: it is not a timetable to be rigidly followed, but a framework
that must be adapted to the situations of individual candidates,
allowing for the possibility that the best prepared can make faster
progress, while the less well prepared advance more slowly".
The Minister adds that the Government welcomes the
aim of the Swedish Presidency to "beat" the road map.
Parking difficult issues
11.6 The Government supports the GAC Report
in saying that difficult issues should only be parked in exceptional
circumstances after every effort has been made in negotiations.
It is too early to say yet, according to the Minister, which issues
will have to be resolved at the highest level towards the end
of the negotiations. They may well be different for different
candidates. He then comments:
"The Commission's road map schedules the veterinary
and phyto-sanitary aspects of agriculture for the Belgian Presidency
in the second half of this year (though the Swedes want to begin
work on this under their Presidency), with other aspects of the
chapter falling to the Spanish Presidency next year. Given that
around half, or 40,000 pages, of the acquis deals with agriculture,
there are inevitably going to be some difficult issues to resolve.
Moreover, for the six countries who began negotiations in 1998,
the Commission has identified 340 requests for transitional periods
in the agriculture chapter: more than double the number in the
other 30 chapters put together. It is already clear that the candidates
have much to do in order to meet EU standards which is
one reason why the Swedish Presidency hope to begin work early
on the veterinary and phyto-sanitary issues. It may be that some
aspects of the agriculture chapter will not be resolved until
the end of negotiations."
Free movement of workers
11.7 The Minister comments on the German
Chancellor's call for a seven- year transition period to cushion
the effect on the border areas of Germany, saying that this is
an area of negotiation which is sensitive for both the applicant
countries and for some Member States. Despite this, the UK fully
supports the Swedish Government in its efforts to close this chapter
provisionally during its Presidency. The Commission, he says,
is currently preparing a paper on the subject for discussion by
the Member States in March.
The GAC Report
11.8 The Minister says that the report consists
of a three-page overview of the enlargement process and describes
it in some detail.
11.9 The Minister's comments give us
a better idea of the Government's thinking on these issues and
we now clear the documents.