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European Council, Copenhagen

3.40 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, with your Lordships' leave, I shall now repeat a Statement made by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in another place on the European Council.

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    operations using NATO planning with the option of NATO headquarters and NATO assets as well. As a result, the European Union stands ready to take over the military operation in Macedonia in consultation with NATO and to lead a military operation in Bosnia following SFOR.

    "The European Council issued a declaration on the Middle East in advance of the Quartet ministerial meeting in Washington. The Quartet brings together the EU, the United States, Russia and the UN, and its meeting on 20th December will take us a further step forward. But, in the short term, progress on the Israeli side will be limited by the general election campaign in Israel.

    "I believe that we should use the intervening period to maximise the chances of successful implementation of the roadmap once a new Israeli government are in place. This means continuing to do what we can to secure an end to violence and to reverse the deteriorating humanitarian situation.

    "It also means ensuring that Palestinian reform is effective. To this end, I can announce today that I am inviting leading Palestinians to come to Britain in January for a conference, along with members of the Quartet and other countries from the region closely involved in supporting the reform effort. It will discuss progress on reform and look at how the international community can help. It is in the interests of both Palestinians and Israelis that these reform efforts succeed so that we can make a reality of President Bush's vision of two states—Israel and Palestine—living side by side in peace and security.

    "The European Council also issued a declaration on Iraq, giving its full and unequivocal support for Security Council Resolution 1441 and urging Iraq to seize this final opportunity to comply with its international obligations.

    "Finally, we speak against the background of serious problems confronting our fishing industry. In the past 30 years, cod stocks in the North Sea have fallen from 250,000 to 35,000 tonnes. If fishing continues at the present rate, there is a risk of there being no viable cod fishing left. That is why the European Commission has suggested a reduction in fishing of 80 per cent to enable the cod stock to recover to its absolute minimum viable level. Scientists believe that the safe minimum is 150,000 tonnes.

    "We share the objective of enabling the fish stocks to recover but we believe that much more moderate measures could still deliver recovery while maintaining a viable industry. I have talked extensively both with the President of the Commission at Copenhagen and with Commissioner Fischler previously. And fishery Ministers are meeting in Brussels at the moment to reach agreement on the issue.

    "The UK fishing industry has benefited over the past year from 36 million funding to support adjustment through decommissioning. This includes the Scottish Executive's action to help to

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    preserve fish stocks and to ensure the industry's long-term viability with a 27 million aid package. If there are further cuts arising from the ongoing negotiations in Brussels, the UK Government and the Scottish Executive stand ready to help the fishing communities affected. I will meet leaders of the industry in the New Year and financial assistance will be made available if necessary. But the priority for now must be to get a fair deal for our fishing industry.

    "This summit was a remarkable achievement. It redefines the future shape of Europe. It describes a future in which Europe is reunited—a Europe of proud and sovereign nation states which work together economically, socially and politically in their common interest. The prospect of Turkey's membership has even more dramatic implications. A nation, which borders the Arab world, which is Muslim and which none the less is striking out on a path leading to liberal democracy, is set, in time, to join the traditional nations of Europe. The implications for the future of Europe are profound. In time, all these new countries will be part of the European economy, part of monetary union, part of European defence and part of the European political system.

    "For us in Britain, the implications are equally profound. Given this new Europe taking shape, it is our job to be part of it, to be a leading power within it and to understand the degree to which our national interest is bound up with it. Isolation from Europe in this new world is absolute folly. That is why we shall continue to fight for our interests but recognise that ultimately they are best served inside the EU and not on its margins".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

3.50 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the noble and learned Lord for repeating the Statement made by the Prime Minister in another place. I hope that he will forgive me for not being in the Chamber at the start of the Statement. Clearly, the Second Reading of the Police (Northern Ireland) Bill proceeded faster than I had anticipated.

I begin by echoing the Prime Minister's praise for the outstanding role of the Danish presidency in achieving a historic result. Denmark laid bare the canard that a state must be in the euro-zone to be a moulder of Europe's future. Does the Leader of the House realise that widening the union brings into being a long-held ambition of the Conservative Party? That bold and statesmanlike response to the collapse of communism in Europe was first advocated by a Conservative government well over a decade ago. The only disappointing factor in a remarkable summit is that it took so long to convert that vision into reality. After the summit the EU must not allow bureaucracy and uniformity to obstruct progress to a wider Europe. If ever it were time to celebrate the diversity of Europe's nations and their rich and varied traditions, that time is surely now.

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Turning to other matters, is it not deeply distressing and to be regretted that yet again at this summit nothing was done to advance reform of the discredited common agricultural policy? Also today we hear more bleak news for Scottish fishermen, as outlined in the Statement. Can the noble and learned Lord describe what the Prime Minister did to raise the CFP at the summit following his recent pledge in Scotland to take the cause of UK fishing up "to the very top"? If one looks at the presidency conclusions, which I recommend to the House, it does not appear to be mentioned anywhere. Was the CFP even discussed in Copenhagen?

EU leaders have taken over a decade to respond to the historic challenge of the collapse of communism. Does the noble and learned Lord agree that we must not countenance further foot-dragging and delay over Turkey, an issue perhaps of equal strategic and political importance? We have long advocated a more open stance towards Turkey. Can the noble and learned Lord confirm that the Prime Minister once again lined up with Mr Berlusconi as his key ally, but, as on CAP reform, was again thwarted by Mr Chirac and Mr Schroder. What does the noble and learned Lord make of that? Where is the top-table influence in that?

Turkey is a key NATO ally, a democracy and a secular Muslim nation. It is a proud nation. Was the Prime Minister right, therefore, to argue that it should be given a fixed date for opening negotiations on entry rather than the vague promises of "without delay" after a date over two years away? For all the Prime Minister's efforts, which we strongly support, no firm date was given. That was a pity. Let us hope that it was not a historic missed opportunity. Who knows how the world, and the Muslim world in particular, will change over the course of the next two years. Could even more preparatory work relating to possible accession be carried out before December 2004?

On Cyprus, am I right in reading paragraph 12 of the conclusions as effectively confirming a Greek veto on the terms of the accession of Cyprus and specifically on the place of the Turkish Cypriot community? Can the noble and learned Lord set out the Government's view on prospects of a comprehensive Cyprus settlement by February 2003 as envisaged in the conclusions? Will the Foreign Secretary be involved in that process?

We welcome progress on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania. But was it not extraordinary that the summit signalled a search for closer relations with Belarus, a nation that by any reckoning is near the foot of the human rights league?

Annex I of the conclusions forecasts spending of over 1 billion on the administrative costs of accession in the next three years. What will that be spent on? And what will be the UK share of such costs?

After detention by the Spanish navy of a North Korean ship carrying ballistic missiles to the Middle East, why is there no mention of the threat of North Korea in the conclusions? Was there any discussion of that affair? Does the EU support US action to contain

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Korea? The communique includes no expression of support for US policy on Iraq? I worry about the take-all, give-nothing attitude of some EU nations to the United States. Often it is laced with anti-Americanism and shows a failure to understand the nature of the terrorist war against America.

On transport, I note progress made in discussions about the problems caused by the passage of heavy lorries through Austria's alpine passes. Did the Prime Minister take the chance to raise the equivalent funnelling of heavy lorries through Kent? While on the environment can the noble and learned Lord comment on the special concession given to Estonia to hunt bears? Did the UK Government agree to that concession? Did they in fact agree to continued hunting of bears, lynxes and beavers in Estonia while pursuing the ban on hunting of foxes at home?

Finally, the conclusions say that the summit heard a presentation from Mr Giscard d'Estaing on the EU convention. It does not tell us what was said. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord has in his brief a copy of the key points made by the Prime Minister in those discussions?

The summit has rightly, for once, been classed as historic. We congratulate the Government on their part in it. But we should all be clear that this wider Europe, to which we all look forward, will demand imaginative and far-reaching EU reform. That reform must point to a far lighter touch from Brussels; far better accountability of the resources spent; a real commitment to deregulation and subsidiarity; and an end to the top-down harmonisation of recent decades. I believe that only then can we look forward to a united Europe that will give prosperity to all its people.

3.56 p.m.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I thank the Leader of the House for repeating the Statement made in another place. It is delightful to hear the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, apparently joining the ranks of the euro enthusiasts.

By any standards this is a remarkably historic moment. It is absolutely right to give credit to the Danish presidency for what was undoubtedly a subtle and successful negotiating period. It is also right and proper to give praise to our own Prime Minister for the way in which this remarkable summit achieved the conclusion of expansion. A whole new group of countries—10 of them—are coming into the European Union. If we were not British, we would recognise this as a tremendous, historic moment and would perhaps be drinking champagne rather than sitting quietly listening to a Statement. I repeat that it is a remarkable achievement. It brings forward the re-uniting of the whole of Europe, East and West, and it brings within the realm of democratic countries with a full recognition of human rights countries that have not enjoyed that situation for the past 50 years. I underline the fact that this is a day for celebration.

I have several questions for the noble and learned Lord. The first concerns the budget in Annex I. Is he satisfied that the provision made for dealing with

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nuclear and environmental pollution is adequate at 125 million euros a year for three years, given the extraordinary degree of environmental and nuclear pollution to be found in countries like Poland and, for that matter, the Czech Republic? Those are serious issues. Many of us are worried that the countries concerned do not have the resources to deal with those problems quickly.

My second question concerns Turkey. I agree that Turkey's commencement of her route to full membership is a historic initiative. However, I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde. On these Benches we believe that in relation to Turkey precisely the right outcome has been achieved. Turkey is now welcomed as a candidate country, but she has to meet certain clear conditions before she can enter into the process of becoming a full member. That is not very different from what was the case for the central and eastern European countries at the beginning of the process some eight years ago. To many, it seems right and proper that Turkey, which has embarked well on a process of trying to recognise the importance of human rights and democratic institutions, should be asked to take one further step: the reduction of military influence on Turkish politics and the separation of civilian authorities from military authorities. As many Members of the House know, that has not yet been accomplished.

With regard to Cyprus, I echo the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde: it would be much better if Cyprus could be reunited before entering the European Union in 2004. There is reason for hope. The latest reports suggest that Mr Denktash is being put under some pressure by Ankara as well as Brussels and therefore may be able to reconsider what has been long, bitter and unhelpful resistance to any attempt to unite that beautiful but still troubled island.

Thirdly, with regard to the issue of military commitment to the European security and defence policy, we on these Benches welcome the removal of the Turkish veto on the use of NATO military resources for the purposes of the European security and defence programme. However, can the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House assure us that the British contribution falls within the resources available to the Ministry of Defence, given that there will now be a commitment to a military position in Bosnia and Macedonia, and that there could conceivably be further demands on the ESDP? Having said that, we welcome the remarkable progress made as a result of the NATO-EU agreement a few days ago. That is the good news.

I turn now to two final questions that are perhaps less good news. The first concerns fishing, to which the noble and learned Lord referred—indeed, it takes up a substantial part of the Statement. The key issue is surely not what individual politicians, however eminent, may believe about fishing; it is whether there is a consensus among biologists, ecologists and fisheries experts about the true position with regard to

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stock. One cannot turn back the truth. It is impossible to disregard what is happening to fish stocks in the North Sea and elsewhere.

Can the Leader of the House assure us that there is a consensus, at least among scientists in Britain, about the actual position and how much fishing can be risked and afforded, because to kill the future for our children is not a good political answer to what is an extremely difficult question? We all recognise the pain to fishing communities in this country and elsewhere. In that context, I point out that the EU must do more serious work on clearing the maritime channels. We have now had three serious accidents in a short space of time, each of which has affected the fauna of the sea, often with disastrous consequences.

Lastly, I turn to a serious and unfortunate event that has occurred since Copenhagen. At Copenhagen, the British Government and others were able to welcome the arrival of the so-called road map for Israel and Palestine and to look forward with hope to the meeting scheduled for 20th December. In the past 48 hours, that has collapsed with the withdrawal of United States support for the road map and the indication that she will not be willing further to consider how that matter can be advanced until after the Israeli elections. That position was pressed hard by Israel, opposed by the United Nations and the European Union.

If the European Union is to mean what it should mean for peace in the world, it must stand up clearly on issues such as this for what it believes to be right, as a more independent voice than that of almost any other major powerful grouping in the world. What hopes does the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House have of being able to resume a strict and determined schedule of meetings between the so-called "Quad" on the vital issue of stopping violence by the Palestinians and settlements by the Israelis, so that at last we may see in that troubled area a chance for peace at a moment when the Middle East is moving into turmoil?

4.4 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am most grateful for what has been said from both Opposition Front Benches. It is always a pleasure when a sinner repents. As the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, said, reflecting on the past weekend, it is a truly historic occasion. It is such an historic occasion that it only requires the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, to join the Damascene conversion of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, for us all to go home content and happy and be safe in our beds tonight.

The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, spoke about the common agricultural policy, which has been a knotty problem for many years. I well remember the noble Lords, Lord Strathclyde and Lord Henley, constantly being attacked on reform of the CAP. I think that their phrase was, "Of course, the Government are not complacent". So in answer to the noble Lord's question today I say, "Of course, the Government are not complacent". I entirely echo what the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, said. In the longer term, the

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accession of many of the eastern European countries with notoriously long embedded problems with agriculture will prove an opportunity.

One does not want to be over-dramatic on these occasions, but if in 1848 we had been having a debate in and about the year of revolutions, it would have been difficult for us to make the intellectual leap that is wanted—and the imaginative leap, which is more difficult—to recognise what has happened. It is truly extraordinary. Did the Prime Minister raise the CAP? Yes, although it was not central to the discussions at Copenhagen.

Questions were asked about Turkey. Turkey has been extremely successful. The date of 2004 has been given. I know that not all of our friends and colleagues in Turkey were entirely satisfied with that. I speak from personal knowledge: the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, and I have been present on occasions on which that understandable impatience has been expressed. But I commend to the House what was said by one of the Turkish leaders: "He who is angry in politics loses the argument". That is a good text for much of the legislation to which we shall return when the debate on the Statement is finished. It has an enormous amount of worth. If someone in Turkey can say that, we should pay careful to heed to it.

In response to the question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, we shall continue throughout to support Turkey's efforts to make itself able to be a full and fitting partner. As I said on a previous occasion—although I must not tease my friends in the United States too much—the United States wanted Turkey to be in a favourable position. A necessary precondition for that was the abolition of the death penalty.

There was no Greek veto on Cyprus. As paragraph 12 of the conclusions states, unanimity is required. What did the Prime Minister say? He said generally, in the Giscard D'Estaing context, that enlargement will make the UK, the EU and the new members wealthier. It will bring new trade and investment opportunities for the UK. It will transform Europe for the better. It will transform the candidate countries for the better. The UK and the EU have benefited from those countries that have chosen the European path. Fundamentally, it shows that the founding principle of the European Union—that peaceful reconciliation is better than war—remains valid.

The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, moved me almost to tears about the bears in Estonia—a situation with which I was of course wholly familiar. Apparently, there has been no special concession for bears in Estonia. But it is not all bad news: there was one on the Arctic lynx—apparently, that is "lynx", not some sort of railway junction.

I turn to the costs of enlargement. Again, the Prime Minister's negotiations at Berlin in 1999 mean that our abatement continues; there has been no challenge to that. On the Convention on the Future of Europe generally, M Giscard d'Estaing simply gave a progress report. No decisions were taken, nor would one have expected them on such an occasion.

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The noble Baroness, Lady Williams, asked me about spending on nuclear matters. There is additional money besides that mentioned in the conclusions, such as contributions to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development—funds for decommissioning. The moneys to which she referred relate to the period up to 2006. Substantial further sums will be required, when the decommissioning costs are better known.

I will say a general word, as I am up to the end of the 20 minutes. These are extraordinary achievements, and I do not confine them to the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary. They are enormous achievements in the fulfilment of the European dream. I go back right to the beginning of the Statement, in which there are one or two historic echoes—Prague, Hungary and Poland. All those historic incidents were not lost in the mists of time. Indeed, so recent are they that all of us present today can remember them with deep shame. If any of us had said, in 1956 or during the Prague Spring, that, one day, Hungary would be free, such a thing would have been regarded as miraculous.

4.10 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, on these Benches, we welcome the developments in Copenhagen last week and the Statement just read by the noble and learned Lord. As someone with a good deal of Danish blood in my veins, I must say how proud many Danes are to have hosted the EU summit. I happen to have visited the Danish church in London yesterday to preach the sermon. Afterwards, I encountered a great deal of enthusiasm—not for the sermon, but for the events in Copenhagen—from many officials of the Danish community. His Excellency the Danish Ambassador was involved, before his appointment here, in the negotiations that led up to last week's meeting.

I shall comment on two matters: the nature and purpose of union; and the issues surrounding Turkey's membership. Union is a concept that becomes a reality at its best when it is about three things: mutual support, manageability and generosity to the poor who are—shall we say—outside the gates. It becomes stagnant when support shrivels, diversity turns into unproductive cacophony and the poor outside go forgotten. On these Benches, we have every confidence that, for all the problems that the EU experiences, the possibilities for support, manageability and generosity will not become insuperable problems—the Estonian bears mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, included. A glance at Europe's history—eastern and western—makes one gasp with delight at what has been achieved and what we have in prospect.

On these Benches, we want to register some caution about language that describes Europe as exclusively Christian, in contrast to an Islamic beyond. The current international scene notwithstanding, there has been a noble mixing of religious presences in many parts of Europe that goes back many centuries. I must add that it is noble when it is about fruitful co-existence, as was the case in Bosnia until a time within

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living memory. The cross that I am wearing is a Danish bishop's cross, made in A¶rhus by Hingelberg, a reputable local Jewish firm.

The question of human rights, including religious rights, is a moral court in which we are all called to strive for a better record. It is an issue in respect of which EU members must be reasonably satisfied about future members. It is to be hoped that Turkey will be given membership at some time in the future.

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