PART 1 INTRODUCTION
1. We have always recognised that the path to further enlargement
of the European Union would not be easy. The applicant countries
would need to make tremendous economic and social changes, and
the European Union itself would need to make major policy and
institutional reforms. We undertook this enquiry because we were
concerned that the process might be slowing down.
2. The events of the last two years have added force to the pressure
for enlargement, and an increasing urgency is being recognised.
In his speech to the European Parliament on 13 October 1999, the
President of the European Commission spoke of
"the chance to create a Europe in which all the peoples
of this continent can live together in peace, security, justice,
freedom and equality. A democratic Europe where human rights are
respected and the rule of law prevails. An economically integrated
Europe which offers growth and prosperity through a single market
and a single currency".
He described this as a "grand and worthwhile project [which]
we call 'the construction of Europe'".
3. The issue of enlargement is so significant that we make no
apology for revisiting it. Nor do we apologise for repeating the
opening words of our last Report on the subject, made in November
"Accession to the European Union is widely seen in the
countries of the former eastern bloc as an integral part of re-joining
the historic culture of Europe to which they belonged before the
tide of communism engulfed them. It is seen as a coming home.
"Enlargement of the European Union to bring in the countries
of Central and Eastern Europe is no longer a dreamthere
is now a practical and immediate opportunity to set a course which
will reshape the political, economic and social life of the whole
continent. If enlargement is successful the peoples of Europe
could enjoy conditions of security and stability without parallel
in their history. If enlargement is stalled or mismanaged not
only would this opportunity be lost but there could be a slide
towards the tensions and instability which have so disfigured
Europe in this century".
4. Already in 1992, when we examined the applications for membership
from Turkey, Austria, Cyprus, Malta, Sweden and Finland, we noted
that consideration of those applications had
"coincided with and to some extent been influenced by
the dramatic changes in Europethe reunification of Germany,
the collapse of communism, the re-emergence of independent States
in Central and Eastern Europe, the break-up of the Soviet Union".
In that Report, we urged the development of economic partnership
and political co-operation with the Central and Eastern European
States, pointing out that various arrangements
short of full membership were already being used "as a means
of drawing countries closer towards their long term goal of Community
the potential difficulties were already apparent. We warned that
"to encourage any country to join the Community before it
can play a full part in the Single Market would be to threaten
that country's future and to weaken the Community".
Transition arrangements would be necessary; there would be budgetary
consequences for the existing Member States; and the review of
the Community's structure and rules planned for 1996 "must
look ahead to the second and third decades of the 21st century
when there may be over 25 Member States".
We have returned to these issues since in the context of other
enquiries, particularly when we were looking at the future of
the Common Agricultural Policy
and at the adequacy of the resources likely to be available within
the financial perspective for 2000-2006.
And as this Report will show, these are still the live issues
in today's discussions.
5. Because the time available for this enquiry was limited, we
initially decided to concentrate on the progress of the five "first
wave" Central and Eastern European countries (the Czech Republic,
Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia; we were of course mindful
that Cyprus was hoping to accede on the same timescale).
We therefore sought evidence from their Governments, as well as
from the United Kingdom Government and from the European Commission.
The day before we began the enquiry, the Commission published
its proposals for
the way forward with the Central and Eastern European countries
which had initially been placed in the "second wave"
(Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia), as well
as with Malta and Turkey. So we are naturally reporting on those
proposals as well.
6. Part 2 of this Report provides a summary of our conclusions.
Part 3 traces the path to date of the current enlargement. Part
4 summarises the developments in October 1999: the Commission's
proposals as to how enlargement should be carried forward and
the report commissioned by the new President of the European Commission,
Mr Prodi, on the institutional implications of enlargement .
Part 5 presents the evidence which we received and sets out our
opinions, and Part 6 makes some concluding comments.
7. The enquiry was carried out by Sub-Committee A. The membership
of the Sub-Committee during the enquiry is listed at Appendix
1. Our witnesses are listed at Appendix 2; we are grateful to
all of them, and particularly to those who gave oral evidence.
Readers may find helpful the Glossary at Appendix 3 and the map
and table of statistical data for the applicant countries at Appendix