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Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): In his opening statement, the Foreign Secretary took some pride in the conditions that have been imposed, including the closure of three nuclear power stations. If Koslodui in Bulgaria was closed, who would pay for the replacement? The Bulgarians have few other sources of power. And which were the two other stations to which the Foreign Secretary was referring?

Given that the Danube is poisoned, and that it is blocked at Novi Sad, what is the financial obligation to an applicant country--in this case, Bulgaria?

Mr. Cook: First, the three countries concerned are Lithuania, Slovakia and Bulgaria. Secondly, the European Union is providing very large sums of money to help the applicant countries in their preparation and in meeting the conditions that we are setting for membership. Yesterday, the Portuguese presidency and the Commission informed Bulgaria and others that, now that they have entered negotiations, they can expect that sum of financial help to be doubled.

On the blockage of the Danube, yesterday at the General Affairs Council we considered the Danube commission's proposals. I very much hope that that will lead the way forward for the unblocking of the Danube, and we are willing to help with that process. We have been unwilling, rightly--I do not think that the House would wish us to do so--to submit to the blackmail of President Milosevic that we reconstruct his country as part of the price of lifting the blockage in the Danube. The Government of Bulgaria stood shoulder to shoulder with us during the conflict in Kosovo, and that is one of the debts that we owe to them in the enlargement process.

Mr. Michael Colvin (Romsey): I wonder whether it is evidence of the Government's offhand attitude to the rural economy and agriculture that there was no mention in the

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Foreign Secretary's statement of the common agricultural policy. Can he confirm that, at the moment, the common agricultural policy takes up nearly half the European Union's budget, and that the addition of Poland alone would almost double expenditure on the CAP? Is it really practical to think in terms of another 12 members without fundamental reform of the CAP?

Mr. Cook: My statement today did not mention agriculture because it is not a matter that will be before the intergovernmental conference--although at Berlin we did of course consider the reform of the budget of the European Union, both in relation to agriculture and in relation to structural funds. It is well known that we did not secure as much reform as we would have wished. Nevertheless, we have reduced prices in the European Union's agriculture policy, to an extent that will save the average British family of four £65 in any one year.

We need to make further progress and are determined to do so, but I would rebut the hon. Gentleman's assertion that cost stands in the way of enlargement. If he looks carefully at the proposals for enlargement, he will see that there is no commitment to direct payment for farmers in Poland or any other applicant country.

Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East): Surely the opening of the European Union to the new democracies of eastern and central Europe will be seen historically as an investment in democracy in our interests--just as earlier enlargements entrenched democracy in the Iberian peninsula and in Greece. Does my right hon. Friend hope, at the IGC, to see proposals for increased democratic control of EU institutions, including closer linkages between national Parliaments and those institutions? As we are talking about democracy, what will be the mechanisms for consulting the applicant countries about their views on the shape of the new Europe?

Mr. Cook: My hon. Friend makes an important strategic point about the need to support the new democracies of central and eastern Europe by embracing them within the family of nations of the European Union. I believe that one reason why we have had so much stability in central and eastern Europe is precisely that we hold out to them the prospect of membership of the European Union, on conditions that they respect borders but do not make borders into barriers. Already, throughout the applicant countries, major steps have been taken to improve the status and rights of ethnic minorities because that is a condition of membership of the European Union.

My hon. Friend also makes one or two valuable points about the importance of increasing transparency within the European Union. Britain has been at the forefront of that argument. We shall continue to be so. As my hon. Friend knows, we are encouraging closer ties between Scrutiny Committees and the European Parliament.

We will continue to do all that we can to keep the European applicant countries involved in any discussions about the future shape of Europe. That is why we had at dinner last night a discussion at which we reviewed the major strategic issues facing Europe, and we have shared our views with the applicant countries.

Mr. Ian Taylor (Esher and Walton): My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said recently and

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rightly that we are committed to membership of the European Union and, therefore, we must make a success of it. Enthusiasm for that point of view is, I am sure, shared by my colleagues who were humming the European anthem during the Foreign Secretary's presentation of the White Paper.

The Foreign Secretary is right to say that, if we are to make a success of the European Union, there are some things that need to be streamlined. We need a more streamlined Commission, a more sensible voting system in which qualified majority voting could be extended outside the core areas that he listed, and a more sensible weighting of votes in relation to population.

However, will the right hon. Gentleman address one item of flexibility that is being discussed not only in this country, but on the continent? What does he understand by potential flexibility? Under the Amsterdam treaty, members were restrained from moving ahead faster if they wished to use the institutions of the European Union to do so. What does he think the negotiations around flexibility will involve, because a few of the new entrants will move at different speeds? That fact could be accommodated by transitional arrangements rather than treaty changes.

Mr. Cook: I am not sure that I entirely share the hon. Gentleman's confidence that his colleagues were hymning the success of the European Union: I sometimes get the impression that nothing would suit them better or make them happier than to see to its failure, despite the immense damage that that would do to this country.

I welcome the hon. Gentleman's agreement to the three main proposals in the White Paper and our three main priorities. On enhanced co-operation, a number of countries wish to improve the procedures that can trigger enhanced co-operation. We are not entirely convinced that that needs to be a priority for this intergovernmental conference, given that the procedures were instituted only three years ago. However, we shall listen to the debate and consider whether it will be practical to make such changes.

Mr. Frank Cook (Stockton, North): Will my right hon. Friend give his assessment of the prospect of developing European security and defence policies and of their effect on existing resources and relationships in NATO?

Mr. Robin Cook: The proposal for the European security initiative, in which Britain played a leading part when we started, produces the headline goal that we agreed to in Helsinki. European countries should develop the capacity to put into the field a core strength of service men--50,000 or 60,000--within 60 days and to support them in the field for at least one year. One reason for our adopting that target is our experience in Kosovo and the importance of our being able to provide such a peacekeeping mission.

I stress to my hon. Friend that that increased resource will be available to NATO in the same way as it will be available to the European Union. Should NATO decide to carry out a peacekeeping exercise, it could call on that force just as well as the European Union. Therefore,

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our proposals do not in any way weaken or undermine NATO: on the contrary, they make available to it a new resource that would otherwise not exist.

Mr. Michael Fallon (Sevenoaks): Why should welcome enlargement and desirable institutional reform necessarily involve more integration?

Mr. Cook: I have set out to the House this afternoon our three main priorities: increased votes for Britain in the Council of Ministers; an improved Commission that is streamlined; and, where it is appropriate and in Britain's interest, an agreement to majority voting. I do not honestly see in any of those a step to integration which the House should reject as a matter of principle. They are all important if we are to make enlargement work. The hon. Gentleman should be frank: is he in favour of enlargement, or is he not?

Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock): Has my right hon. Friend noticed the dismay among young people at the flat-earth policy of the Opposition towards Europe, and their failure to recognise that the European Union has been a great vehicle for conflict resolution and is a ratchet and guarantor of democracy? Will my right hon. Friend stand firm during the negotiations in ensuring that there is no Europe a la carte? Although legitimate transitional arrangements are needed, flexibility could be the prescription for the dissolution of that which has been built up to guarantee democracy in Europe and to act as a force for good, for cohesion and for conflict resolution.

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