Select Committee on European Union Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100-104)

WEDNESDAY 12 MARCH 2003

MISS MELANIE JOHNSON, MR MIKE EDBURY AND ALISSA BELL

  100. I imagine the Government has not actually given any thought at all to what it will do to take advantage of the second sentence of 4(6) and it will not do so until it gets to the stage of an implementing measure, which is then going to become the legal framework under which the Directive will take effect.  (Miss Johnson) I think you are perhaps a little unfair, not to me but to our legal advisers. I am sure they have given some thought to it. But I think the thrust of your point is right, that the detail which is undoubtedly going to be necessary in a case such as this one certainly is work yet to be done.

  101. Because as Lord Neill says, there will have to be very, very careful thought given to how to make whatever is going to be done reasonably Convention-proof.  (Miss Johnson) Yes.

Lord Thomson of Monifieth

  102. Could I ask what is basically a political question? How are these discussions now after all these long years affected by the timetable for enlargement? Could you tell me at what point this becomes part of the acquis which has to be accepted by the new candidate countries or at what point there may be a situation in which the whole negotiation has to be opened up to take account of their interests?  (Miss Johnson) I ought to be able to answer that question but I am not sure that I can. As you know, there are ten candidates. Malta has just had its referendum and they are all joining formally in 2004 and will be making the decision and joining us around the table. I am not sure at what point they are forced to accept. I would imagine that they would be forced to accept any agreements which are arrived at but it depends when a final text is agreed and accepted by the parliament. I am not quite clear what the timetable for that is at the moment. I think it would be an ambitious person who was prepared to put money on that timetable because obviously it has been 13 to 14 years, I think, in discussion and who could say exactly when we were going to come to a conclusion on it. But we could certainly write to you further on the question of exactly at what point things formally become part of the acquis and at which point therefore enlargement states are bound to them.

  103. I suppose from a practical point of view it would be an immense complication if you had to start re-negotiating with all the new candidate countries?  (Miss Johnson) I do not think that that will happen but I would be happy to write to you exactly about the interface of the two processes, which I am not so clear on myself.

  104. The situation is no doubt totally different but I have rather bitter memories of the Common Fisheries Policy being negotiated and becoming part of the acquis after we had engaged in our negotiations. We have never quite forgiven those who were responsible for that. It would be a pity if you were to get into a situation where you engendered comparable bitterness.  (Miss Johnson) It certainly is not something which has featured in the discussions as far as I am aware, so I think there probably is a straightforward answer to it and we will supply that to you, if we may.

  Chairman: Lady Thomas, did you have any further questions?

  Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: No, funnily enough my colleague took the words out of my mouth on this.

  Chairman: Lord Henley?

  Lord Henley: No, my Lord Chairman.

  Chairman: Lord Lester is just in time to ask a question.

  Lord Lester of Herne Hill: I apologise, I have been detained by the Supreme Court.

  Chairman: That is a good excuse. Minister, thank you very much indeed for the help you have given us this evening. You have been most patient with your time and we are very grateful to you and you colleagues for coming. Thank you all.





 
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