Select Committee on European Communities Tenth Report


  6.    This Part of the Report highlights what we consider to be the most important elements of our Opinion which are set out in more detail in paragraph 1 and, generally, in Part 5. The numbers given in bold type in brackets at the end of each paragraph are those of the more detailed paragraphs.

  7.    Enlargement, if successful, could lead to unparalleled security and stability for the peoples of Europe. If the opportunity is missed there could be a slide towards the tensions and instability which have so disfigured Europe in this century (1).

  8.    Successful enlargement will not be brought about easily. There are difficult problems to be overcome, both political and economic, for both the EU15 and the CEEC10. New relationships between Member States and between the European institutions will have to be forged (75).

  9.    Given political will, Agenda 2000 charts, in broad terms, a realistic route ahead. National governments need to face the uncomfortable decisions to be taken without harmful delay (76).

  10.    The enlargement now foreseen is of a different order of magnitude from any that has happened in the past. It is a challenge of momentous consequence (77).

  11.    National governments, conscious of their electors and approaching elections, will not wish to pay more to, or receive less from, the Community Budget than they do at present (78).

  12.    The annual rate of economic growth estimated by the Commission for 2000-2006 for the EU15 (2.5 per cent) is uncertain and that for the CEEC10 (4 per cent) highly uncertain. If growth in the EU15 fell below an annual average of 2.0 per cent the Community would have to reduce spending on agreed policies, (to support enlargement, agriculture and rural development and the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund), or, the more unattractive option, to increase its income by raising the own resources ceiling above the 1.27 per cent of EU GNP. It is important to stimulate economic growth if the Community's policies are to remain affordable (79-82).

  13.    It will take 25 years or so at reasonable rates of growth for the CEECs to bring their average per capita GNP up to roughly half that of the EU15. Even to narrow the gap to this extent will require assistance from the Community to the new Member States for at least a generation after their accession. We do not see this long period as a reason for delaying enlargement (83).

  14.    The political realities are that the "own resources" ceiling of 1.27 per cent of EU GNP is unlikely to be increased after 1999. This may not provide sufficient funds to support enlargement. The financial perspective to be agreed for 2000-2006 should contain provision for review before 2002 of the "own resources" ceiling. (84).

  15.    Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy is pivotal to the financing of enlargement. Reform of the Structural and Cohesion Funds is also required. If these reforms are not made, enlargement cannot be financed as proposed in Agenda 2000. National governments do not appear to recognise the sheer scale of the enlargement undertaking and the political will to accomplish these reforms is not yet evident (85-88).

  16.    The applicant countries may not find it possible to adopt, implement and enforce the acquis by 2002. The total costs incurred are likely to exceed the EU's funding for enlargement. EU funding will need to be substantially augmented by resources from the international financial institutions and other private sources (91-94).

  17.    The first group of accessions may be delayed beyond 2002 for a number of years by political and economic problems: mainly political in the EU15 and mainly economic in the CEEC10 (76-94).

  18.    The British rebate is a source of dissension in many of the other Member States of the EU, particularly in Germany. There will be strong political pressure for recognition before 2006 that a new system of national contributions to the Community Budget, that is accepted as fair and transparent, will have to be devised (89).

  19.    EU Structural Funds are provided for long-term development and not to enhance domestic transfer payments. But we cannot foresee the impact of EMU on less developed or vulnerable regions and we cannot rule out that consideration may have to be given to remedial measures at national or Union level. (90).

  20.    Building strong, honest institutions should be given a higher priority than in the past in the programmes of aid from the EU to the applicant countries. Without such institutions funds will be wasted or mis-applied or used corruptly (95-97).

  21.    It is vital the scale and the timing of costs incurred by the enlargement of NATO and of the EU should be looked at in a coordinated way (98).

  22.    The 5+1 approach to opening negotiations should be supported in preference to "the regatta approach" (99).

  23.    The institutional reforms of the large Member States giving up their second Commissioner and the modification of the weighting of the votes in the Council, (foreshadowed in a Protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam), should be agreed well before the first accessions are ready. The need for this reform must not be used as a pretext for delaying enlargement (100-101).

  24.    Applicants not in the first 5 need to be made aware of the precise criteria to be met before their negotiations for accession can start and to be reassured that their accession will take place as soon as they are ready (102).

  25.    The politics and the economics of enlargement are inextricably mixed. The prospect of accession has stimulated reform in the CEECs and has encouraged inward investment. The appearance of unnecessary delay in enlargement will put this virtuous circle at risk. We urge that every effort should be made to avoid such delay, although we see ample opportunities for it to occur (103).

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Prepared 1 December 1997