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Lord Moynihan: First, I thank the Minister for a comprehensive reply to the points that were raised. He made detailed reference to the speech of my noble friend Lord Inglewood, and he was right to do so. My noble friend's expertise in that area is second to none. His questions this evening were pertinent and deserved the fulsome response that they received from the Minister.

My noble friend Lord Renton said that there was a need for a wider amendment than that which I drafted. That will give me considerable food for thought in the next few days as to whether that is an appropriate issue to revisit on Report, when there may well be merit in analysing some of the important points made by the Minister in that context. I cannot say to my noble friend at this stage that I shall return with a wider amendment but a compelling case has been made for a further review of the important issue which has been debated this evening.

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I praise the Minister on the specific answers which he gave and in particular, the definitions. I wanted to achieve a clearer understanding of the definitions and the Minister made a brave attempt to do that and it will lead to much further consideration.

Finally, perhaps I may pass a message through the Minister to his colleague in the Foreign Office. In the context of the discussions with Sam Younger, perhaps through agreement with the usual channels, it may be appropriate to have a regular update made to the House on those monthly meetings. The future of the BBC World Service receives support on all sides of the House. There is a significant degree of cross-party interest in the matter. As a result of either myself tabling a Question on a regular basis or some other mechanism of parliamentary procedure, the House would benefit greatly by a regular update on what I hope are successful monthly discussions, moving towards a strong and well-supported BBC World Service in the future.

Against the background of those reflections, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Rawlings: moved Amendment No. 43G:


After Clause 1, insert the following new clause--

Reports on applicant countries

(" . No later than one year after the passing of this Act, and at annual intervals thereafter, a Minister of the Crown shall lay before both Houses of Parliament a report of any assessment made by the European Commission of the applicant countries to the European Union who have not been accepted into the first wave of applicants, of their progress and of any possible changed status.").

The noble Baroness said: We had an exceptionally wide ranging debate on this matter on Second Reading and earlier in Committee. Inasmuch as it has related to the substance of the Amsterdam Treaty, it focused primarily on what the treaty does and the consequences of its provisions. In my first and only intervention in Committee, I want to focus--as did my noble friends Lord Moynihan and Lord Garrel-Jones--on what Amsterdam failed to do, which was to prepare the European Union and its institutions for enlargement.

On Second Reading, my noble friend Lord Moynihan called enlargement the historic challenge of our generation, and both Euro realists and Eurosceptics appear to agree at least on that. Enlargement is desirable and important for strategic, political, economic and moral reasons. We hope that enlargement will promote the stability and prosperity of a large region that historically, culturally and politically is clearly part of Europe--no longer the forgotten Europe. That should in no way detract from our continuing relationship and friendship with the United States and the Atlantic Alliance.

On the first day in Committee, the Minister said that the Amsterdam Treaty was,


    "the essential precursor to the start of our enlargement process".--[Official Report, 12/3/98; col. 316.]

The debate in Committee, fuelled by a record number of amendments, explored most other aspects of the treaty and reflected a crucial shortcoming. Amsterdam

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failed to address enlargement, which needs to be brought back to centre stage. The amendments to which I am speaking give me the opportunity to do so, at least in this forum. It may be helpful to debate also Amendments Nos. 46 and 47.

Further enlargement will fundamentally change the nature and functioning of the European Union. Enlargement to the 10 central and east European countries will add 28 per cent. to the EU's population but only 4 per cent. to its gross domestic product. It is expected to require about 75 billion ecu from the Union's budget between 2000 and 2006. That amount represents just over 10 per cent. of the European Union's budget and only one thousandth of its GDP.

According to the Commission, enlargement with Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Estonia may occur in three and a half years. The countries that need to make up the most ground are Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia. They do not expect to follow for some time. Judging by the length of the negotiations for the accession of Greece, Spain and Portugal, that enlargement may take more time than expected--especially considering that, in the present climate, it is highly unlikely that extra funding will be available for those nations. Enlargement, I fear, will take much longer because neither the east nor the west are ready for it.

Several applicant countries are simply not ready for accession. That is particularly evident after skimming the opinions of the Commission on Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia in Agenda 2000. We have reason to be concerned on two fronts. Between 2000 and 2006, those countries are expected to receive less money from the European Union than the five front runners--400 ecu and 900 ecu per head respectively. As a consequence, adjustment may be hindered and a feeling of exclusion engendered among the second-wave applicants.

Will the Government put forward proposals to redistribute financial assistance among applicants? The European Union, in order to fulfil its pledge to adopt an inclusive approach to enlargement, may opt for premature accession. That would be disastrous for the more fragile five and disruptive to a number of sectors in the European Union.

Those concerns form the background to Amendment No. 43G, which requires that one year after the passing of the Bill, a Minister shall lay before Parliament the further assessments made by the Commission on the progress of the fragile five. It is right that national parliaments should have the opportunity to be informed and to debate such matters.

At the same time, the European Union is not ready for enlargement--neither its institutions nor its policies. When the 1996/97 Intergovernmental Conference began its work, the preparation of European institutions for enlargement was clearly on the agenda. The issues comprised a reweighting of the voting within the Council of Ministers away from over-represented small countries, reforming the Council presidency, reducing the number of Commissioners and capping the size of

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the European Parliament. Perhaps I may quote my noble friend Lord Cockfield on Second Reading, when he said:


    "The issue was dodged in the run-up to the previous enlargement; it was dodged again in Maastricht; and it has been dodged once more at Amsterdam. We simply cannot go on dodging it".--[Official Report, 16/2/98; col. 56.]

As Members of the Committee know, the only progress achieved was on the last of those four issues. The size of the European Parliament was capped to 700. However, no progress was achieved on the first three: the re-weighting of voting within the Council of Ministers and the reduction of the number of Commissioners were postponed to a year before the next enlargement. That will take place at the earliest in the year 2001; but, realistically, we may well be looking at a much later date. Finally, the reform of the presidency just fell off the agenda.

The purpose of Amendment No. 46 is to put pressure on the European Union not to dodge the issue any longer. It makes the entry into effect of the Amsterdam Treaty conditional on the reduction of the Commission which, in turn, is conditional on the re-weighting of the votes. The purpose of the latter part of Amendment No. 47 is the same. We are not alone in upping the pressure. Some member states--notably, France, Spain and Germany--want re-weighting of votes as a pre-condition of enlargement. I should like to take this opportunity to thank the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, for the assurances that he gave us on Second Reading that,


    "we give up our second commissioner only if we are satisfied on the far more important issue of the re-weighting of votes in the Council of Ministers ".--[Official Report, 16/2/98: col. 111.]

What criteria must a re-weighting of votes fulfil to be satisfactory? What is the Government's view on the suggestion of my noble friend Lord Garel-Jones that, in a smaller Commission, the five main portfolios should be allocated as a rule to the five larger member states; and that the presidency of the Commission should be entrusted to a small or medium-sized member state? What are the Government's proposals for the reform of the Council presidency? Would they support a year-long presidency provided by a troika of one large, one medium and one small member state? These are weighty enough matters, without going into the conundrum--indeed, the nightmare--of 22 official languages in a European Union of 26 member states.

The European Union's lack of readiness is equally alarming in relation to its policies. That brings me to the first part of Amendment No. 47. It would make entry into force of the Act conditional on the reforms of the common agricultural policy and the regional funds. Those issues do not strictly pertain to the treaty, but they are an integral part of the process of enlargement. Moreover, they are being discussed in great detail elsewhere. I shall, therefore, make only a few remarks of a general nature about them. Last July, Agenda 2000 was launched mapping out the work that has to be done in order to reform the European Union's policies. That work was embodied last month in a package of Commission proposals, including a new instrument to strengthen the pre-accession strategy, the Partnership Agreements.

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The European Union has been slow in developing those proposals and it is doubtful whether they amount to a coherent strategy. In some fields, notably structural fund reform, we are only at the beginning of a long negotiation process. However, I am pleased to say that I shall not take up the time of the Committee by going into its details at this point. In other fields, especially CAP reform, it is clear that the Commission proposals are fraught with problems and that they are probably inadequate to fulfil the objectives set out in Agenda 2000. Overall, it is clear that the Commission has opted for an incrementalist approach of "business as usual".

When considering these matters, I am led to ask: why is no one ready for enlargement, almost nine years after the fall of the Berlin wall? Is it perhaps for a lack of leadership and political will? The UK Government would argue that, during their EU presidency, they are providing the necessary leadership. They made enlargement one of their main priorities and they claim that, with the London European Conference on 12th March, they gave enlargement a flying start. A flying start to where, I ask?

The adoption of accession partnerships and the opening of negotiations with the five plus Cyprus does not represent a change of gear with the past. The same can be said about the reform of the European Union policies. The Government's work programme says that it will "take forward" Agenda 2000, "make a start" on negotiations for reform of the structural and regional funds, and "expects to start detailed work" on post-1999 financing arrangements. I cannot detect the dynamism of a new Britain in this carefully couched bureaucratic language. What substantial proposals are the Government proposing to transform this plodding start to the enlargement process into a truly flying start? I beg to move.

10.30 p.m.

Lord Taverne: This is my first intervention in tonight's debate at Committee stage and it will be brief. I agree with a very large proportion of what the noble Baroness said. It makes sense to have annual reports on the applicant countries, including those who are not part of the first wave; it makes sense that we should make progress on the re-weighting of votes in council; and nearly all the points she made under Amendment No. 47 also make sense, so I shall not repeat them. I agree with much of what she said, subject to an important reservation.

I mention in passing that there will also have to be considerable changes on the part of the applicant countries. In the case of Poland there will have to be changes in their agricultural system. In the case of the Czech Republic there will have to be major improvements in their capital markets, which are extremely weak. There has been a great deal of corruption and one would wish to see more progress made, for example in strengthening the powers of the Securities Exchange Commission.

I do not want to repeat, therefore, what the noble Baroness said, except for this. It does not make sense to make the coming into effect of the Amsterdam Treaty

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conditional on these developments. These are matters for negotiations. They should be actively pursued. But the Amsterdam Treaty is a perfectly sensible treaty which should be supported and we cannot delay it any further.


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