The European Scrutiny Committee has agreed to the
1. REPORTS ON PROGRESS
BY APPLICANT COUNTRIES
SEC (2002) 1400-1412
ADD 1 to 13
Towards the enlarged Union: Strategy Paper and Report of the European Commission on the progress towards accession by each of the candidate countries.
|Document originated:||9 October 2002
|Deposited in Parliament:
||24 October 2002|
|Department:||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 14 October 2002|
|Previous Committee Report:
|Discussed in Council:
||24-5 October European Council|
|Committee's assessment:||Legally and politically important
|Committee's decision:||For debate in European Standing Committee B
1.1 On 9 October 2002 the European Commission issued
its Strategy Paper on EU enlargement, together with its annual
reports on the progress of each of the 13 candidate countries,
assessing them against the Copenhagen criteria. Under these criteria
(agreed at Copenhagen in 1993) membership of the EU requires that
the candidate countries ensure:
- stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule
of law, human rights and the respect for and protection of minorities
(the political criteria);
- the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the
capacity to cope with the competitive pressure and market forces
within the Union (the economic criteria);
- ability to take on the obligations of membership, including
adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union
(the acquis criterion).
1.2 The Commission says that this year's reports not
only assess progress but evaluate the extent to which each candidate
will fulfil the criteria within the timescale envisaged for enlargement.
The Strategy Paper summarises the country reports and examines
the issues arising from them, reaching conclusions on which countries
will be ready to join the EU at the beginning of 2004 and discussing
the remaining action required, including completion of the negotiations.
1.3 In his Explanatory Memorandum, the Minister for Europe
(Mr Peter Hain) summarises the Strategy Paper's conclusions as
"Ten candidates Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia,
Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia
will be ready for membership of the EU from the beginning
of 2004. The EU should therefore conclude negotiations with the
Ten by the end of this year, with the aim of signing an Accession
Treaty in Spring 2003."
1.4 The Minister summarises the progress reports on the
ten countries which will be ready for EU membership and able to
assume the obligations of membership in 2004 as follows:
"As in previous reports, Cyprus meets both political and
economic criteria. Most Accession Partnership priorities have
been met or are on track. Cyprus is preparing well for accession.
EU membership following a settlement would allow benefits of accession
to accrue to all Cypriots. The UK, Commission and Cyprus have
discussed over the last year how Cyprus' accession to the EU would
affect the British Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus."
"High degree of alignment with the acquis achieved and adequate
administrative capacity to implement it. Preparations for the
internal market are well advanced. But in some areas, e.g. JHA
and agriculture, progress is required on implementation. Further
efforts are needed to implement commitments made in the accession
negotiations. Corruption and discrimination remain concerns, but
a positive report overall."
"It has achieved a high level of alignment with the acquis
in most areas, and has made good progress in developing its administrative
capacity. It has also implemented its negotiating commitments
well. Estonia must further develop administrative capacity in
a few areas, and meet its commitments, particularly in Fisheries
"Good progress all round. Economic performance improved.
Continued progress in aligning with acquis and ability to implement
it. Further efforts needed in agriculture, transport, regional
policy, environment and financial control and to establish necessary
administrative capacity to ensure sound management of EC funds.
Progress in tackling corruption and discrimination, but further
"It has achieved a high level of alignment with the acquis
in many areas, and has made progress in developing administrative
capacity. Latvia is generally meeting its negotiating commitments.
Developing administrative capacity remains Latvia's greatest challenge,
along with tackling organised crime and corruption, and judicial
"It has achieved a generally good level of alignment with
the acquis, and has made progress in developing its administrative
capacity, although progress in both remains patchy. Lithuania
is generally meeting its negotiating commitments, but there have
been delays in some areas. Lithuania needs to continue to develop
its administrative capacity to ensure that all institutions are
"Malta has pulled in line with the acquis in most areas,
but there are still some gaps, notably in social policy, maritime
law and agriculture. There has been good progress in JHA, Customs
and Environment. The need for increased administrative capacity
is a recurring theme in all areas of the report."
"Steps forward in all areas. Economic performance improved.
Further efforts needed to strengthen administrative capacity on
eg agriculture, food safety, fisheries, regional policy, environment,
customs and JHA. Important to establish administrative capacity
for sound management of EC funds."
"Good progress in addressing judicial reform, though continued
efforts are needed to tackle corruption and protect minorities.
Slovakia should be able to cope with competitive pressure within
the Union by accession, provided current economic reforms continue,
but macroeconomic difficulties remain. Very good progress has
been made in legislative alignment, but further efforts are needed
to strengthen administrative capacity."
"It has made very good progress in implementation and adoption
of the acquis, particularly on Regional Policy and Financial Control.
Progress made on the economic criteria must be reinforced by continuing
structural reform. Progress made on judicial reform, but more
necessary. All outstanding acquisrelated legislation has
now been passed. All the necessary institutions are now in place
and there are no significant problems."
1.5 The Minister summarises the progress reports on the
three other candidate countries as follows:
"Bulgaria is now a functioning market economy due to macroeconomic
stability and its efforts towards privatisation. Legislative alignment
is progressing in line with their 2007 target date. Important
progress made in reforming the judiciary, but further effort required
on this and administrative capacity."
"Romania has made good progress in some of the areas of strongest
concern relating to the Copenhagen political criteria. It is still
not a functioning market economy. The gap is growing between law
aligned with acquis and Romania's capacity to implement it. Attention
is drawn to the need for a comprehensive strategy for reforming
the administration and the judiciary."
"Although 'noticeable progress' made in recent years, does
not yet fully meet the political criteria. Adoption of reforms
this year were an important signal of the determination of the
majority of Turkey's political leaders to move towards further
alignment with the values and standards of the EU."
1.6 As regards the problem of corruption, the Commission
"Progress has been made in the fight against corruption,
fraud and economic crime, but this area remains a source of concern.
Anticorruption strategies are now in place in most countries
and anticorruption bodies have been further reinforced.
Further progress has been made in terms of legislation, including
in such areas as public procurement and the financing of political
parties, and significant efforts have been made in terms of awareness
raising. There are indications that in a number of countries,
popular awareness of the dangers of corruption for the economy
and society as a whole is increasing. Encouraging developments
noted as regards transparency, accountability and efficiency of
the public administration are of relevance also in this field.
Efforts must be sustained."
CFSP and external relations (including trade)
1.7 The reports on the individual candidates cover their
progress on CFSP since the last Regular Report. Yet there is no
summary of these findings in the Strategy Paper or in the EM or
any indication of the Government's views. In general, all thirteen
countries assessed are commented upon favourably. A number have
contributed to international peacekeeping and observer operations
and have aligned themselves with the EU Action Plan on Terrorism
and the CFSP Common Positions on terrorism. They have also confirmed
preparedness to contribute to the EU Rapid Intervention Force
missions and to EU civilian instruments for crisis management,
such as the EU Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
1.8 In some cases the reports indicate room for improvement.
- Cyprus is said to maintain good, constructive relations
with all its neighbours in the Middle East. It has contributed
to the peace effort, facilitating meetings in Cyprus between Israelis
and Palestinians and other parties and maintaining avenues of
communication. Its role in accommodating the 13 Palestinians expelled
from Bethlehem is mentioned. Relations with Turkey remain sensitive.
- Hungary maintains its good track record. Bilateral
relations with most neighbours are constructive but political
tensions arose with Romania and Slovakia over the Law on Hungarians
living in Neighbouring Countries the "Status Law"
which entered into force in January 2002. The law is broadly compatible
with the recommendations of the Council of Europe's Commission
for Democracy through Law the "Venice Commission".
Hungary has committed itself to repeal any provision incompatible
with EC law, before accession.
- Lithuania has continued to emphasise the development
of its cooperation with the Russian region of Kaliningrad.
- Poland has taken steps gradually to align itself with
the Community's trade regime since the 1997 Commission Opinion
which called for trade barriers to be eliminated. However, this
Regular Report comments that on a number of occasions Poland adopted
measures which led it away from the acquis on commercial policy
rather than towards it.
- Romania's relations with Hungary have improved with
the conclusion in December 2001 of a Memorandum of Understanding
on the implementation of the Hungarian "Status Law"
and tensions noted in last year's Regular Report have diminished
considerably. A dispute with Ukraine over demarcation of the border
- Slovakia unilaterally suspended tariffs on imports
of 12 civil aircraft products. Despite the Commission's strong
opposition, this exceptional measure which was due to end in December
2001 was extended to December 2002. Slovakia has a number of bilateral
free trade agreements and the Commission comments that it needs
to ensure that the EU is kept fully informed about existing agreements
and about any negotiations on new ones with third countries. Slovakia
will need to renegotiate or renounce all international agreements
with third countries that are incompatible with its future obligations
as an EU Member State. "Decisive steps are needed, as a matter
of urgency, to bring bilateral investment treaties into conformity
with the Treaty obligations. Failure to do so will mean that the
conflict between the bilateral investment treaties and Treaty
obligations will need to be resolved in the Accession Treaty".
- Slovenia made progress with Croatia in resolving a
number of outstanding issues through bilateral agreements but
their ratification has come to a standstill, causing tensions
between the two countries. Slovenia has made a considerable effort
to support international peacekeeping missions.
- Turkey plays an important role in promoting stability
and security in the area of the Balkans, Caucasus and Middle East
and has taken a number of initiatives. It organised a forum in
February on "the harmony of civilisations" to promote
dialogue and mutual understanding between the EU and Muslim countries
across the world. Relations with Greece have improved and exploratory
talks on the Aegean have started. The outstanding issues relating
to the participation of Turkey in the decisionmaking process
for EUled operations using NATO assets need to be resolved
as a matter of priority.
The Government's view
1.9 The Minister tells us that the Government:
- welcomes the recommendation that ten countries should be able
to complete negotiations this year and join the EU in 2004;
- welcomes the conclusions on Cyprus, and agrees with the Commission
that accession by a united Cyprus would benefit all Cypriots;
- welcomes the Commission's proposals for an enhanced road map
and preaccession strategy for Bulgaria and Romania, and
wants the Copenhagen European Council in December 2002 to agree
2007 as a target date for their accession;
- supports the Commission's view that Turkey has made "noticeable
progress" towards meeting the political criteria, particularly
in the last year, and believes that Turkey must be encouraged
to pursue its reform process;
- will continue its strong support for the efforts of candidate
countries to implement and enforce the acquis, notably through
DFID bilateral programmes, Action Plans and twinning projects;
- sees merit in effective safeguard measures (following enlargement),
which could provide helpful reassurance;
- welcomes confirmation that decisions on financing enlargement
will be based on the decisions taken in Berlin in 1999, considers
that no candidate country should be a net contributor upon accession,
and believes that a solution in respect of direct payments should
be found that minimises the adverse economic impact they could
have on the candidate countries;
- believes that further efforts need to be made by the candidate
countries in certain areas, despite the significant progress already
made, including building administrative capacity and strengthening
judiciaries, consolidating compliance with the political criteria
(for example protecting minority rights), and pursuing anticorruption
- believes that the case for leaving the British Sovereign Base
Areas in Cyprus outside the EU remains valid.
1.10 The Minister set out the timetable for the progress
towards accession of the ten candidates judged ready for accession
in 2004. Since he signed the EM the Brussels European Council
of 2425 October has endorsed the findings and recommendations
of the Commission and confirmed its determination to conclude
accession negotiations with the ten candidate countries at the
Copenhagen European Council on 1213 December and to sign
the Accession Treaty in Athens in April 2003. The Minister noted
that the EU committed itself at the Seville European Council to
agree all outstanding chapters by early November. The Accession
Treaty will go to the European Parliament for its assent in March/April
2003, with a view to signature by the Member States and candidate
country governments in midApril. He comments that this will
pave the way for ratification in time for enlargement by 2004.
1.11 The Strategy Paper and Progress Reports make
a positive assessment in the case of ten of the candidate countries.
Nevertheless, the Commission points to a number of areas in which
it expects further progress to be made before accession. In some
candidates the rate of progress justifies this optimism. In others
it appears less well founded. This matter and a number of others
which we suggest below could be raised with the Minister during
1.12 The Commission acknowledges in its Strategy Paper
that people in the existing Member States have doubts about enlargement.
It mentions in particular "perceived problems as to the preparedness
of the candidates to join the Union". In analysing the progress
made by the different candidates, it identifies several weaknesses
common to a number of them, some of which give cause for "serious
concern". The Minister, in his EM, also expresses concern
at some of these weaknesses. He might be asked in each case what
effect they are having on the UK now, and what could be the effect
if they are still evident after the countries concerned have joined
the EU. They include:
- continuing high levels of organised crime and corruption
in many candidate countries;
- the quality and independence of the judiciary and trustworthiness
of the criminal justice systems;
- weaknesses in public administration which call into question
the candidate's capacity for sound management of EC funds, and
administration of the veterinary sector and of CAP support schemes,
for instance where there is a need to get the Integrated Administrative
Control System (IACS) in place, as in Poland;
- discrimination against minorities, such as the Roma in
Hungary and the Czech Republic. If discrimination continues, could
this encourage a significant increase in migration to other Member
States after enlargement?
1.13 The Minister says that the Government looks forward
to further information from the Commission on how the three safeguards
it intends to put in place, summarised in the EM, will work. He
says that he sees merit in effective safeguards, though the Government
hopes that the candidates will have made sufficient progress before
accession in the areas of the internal market and Justice and
Home Affairs for these not to be needed.
- is the Minister now in a position to provide a fuller picture
of what the Commission has in mind on safeguards?
1.14 Alan Mayhew of Sussex University, in a letter
in the Financial Times of 28 October, describes the accession
terms as "miserable" and suggests that the safeguards
in the internal market discriminate against new Member States
in favour of old ones.
- is there a risk that the accession terms are not generous
enough to win the approval of the voters in the candidate countries?
In Poland, we understand that a 50% turnout will be required for
a referendum on accession to be valid. Is the Government confident
that referendums in the candidate countries will all result in
a vote in favour of accession?
1.15 Press coverage highlighted the deal struck between
President Chirac and Chancellor Schröder on reform of the
Common Agricultural Policy on 24 October. As the details of the
deal are not yet available to us, we concentrate here on a few
suggested questions directly related to enlargement. It is likely
that we will shortly recommend a debate on the Floor of the House
on the Commission Communication on the mid-term review of the
- the press quoted Chirac as having pointed out that the
UK will bear only a small proportion of the cost of enlargement.
Would it be fair to say that the discrepancy in contributions
towards enlargement between the UK and other Member States would
not be so marked if more radical reform of the CAP had been agreed
some years ago, for instance at the Berlin European Council in
- the Prime Minister and other Government Ministers have
referred to the Doha international trade round as a forum in which
further pressure might be exerted for reform of the CAP. Commissioner
Fischler's mid-term review has been quoted as providing another
opportunity. What, realistically, are the prospects for reforming
the CAP following agreement on the basis of the FrancoGerman
deal, however it was modified following British representations,
at the Brussels European Council?
Common Foreign and Security Policy
1.16 The reports on the individual candidates cover
their progress on CFSP since the last Regular Reports. The Minister
does not offer any government view on any of these assessments
by the Commission. In general, all thirteen countries are commented
- does the Minister believe that the performance of the candidates
as regards the CFSP should be taken into consideration when assessing
whether they are fit to be members of the EU?
- does he have any comment on the performance of any of the
candidates in relation to CFSP?
- Kaliningrad was due to be discussed at the Brussels European
Council. What decision was taken in relation to this Russian enclave?
Cyprus and Turkey
1.17 The Minister urges Turkey to support efforts
to achieve a settlement. In the Financial Times of 25 October,
the Turkish Ambassador to the EU is quoted as saying that if Cyprus
is admitted as a divided island, EU leaders will be responsible
for disrupting the strategic balance of the Mediterranean region.
He is also quoted as saying that if the EU does not give Turkey
a date for starting accession negotiations at the Copenhagen European
Council in December, "it will be more than a disappointment
for Turks it will be a deception". The same article
says that Washington has been applying pressure, particularly
on Berlin, for the EU to give Turkey a date.
- how does he anticipate that Turkey will react if no settlement
on Cyprus is achieved before the Copenhagen European Council?
- in his EM, the Minister describes the Government as a strong
supporter of Turkey's EU aspirations. There have been suggestions
in the press that the UK is promoting Turkey's candidacy as a
reward for its cooperation in the "War against Terrorism".
To what extent have considerations other than what that the Commission
describes as Turkey's noticeable progress towards fulfilling the
Copenhagen political criteria influenced the Government's attitude
towards Turkey's candidacy?
1.18 These documents form the basis for key decisions
on enlargement and we recommend that they be debated in European
Standing Committee B within the next month.