Memorandum submitted by the Foreign and
During the 21 November Evidence Session, the
Secretary of State promised to provide the Committee with further
information on the following topics:
As the Prime Minister said in Warsaw in October,
the Government wants to see the new Member States participating
in the European Parliamentary elections in 2004. This is an ambitious,
but realistic, target.
The Committee asked for further information
on the legal position if accession took place at a time that was
less convenient from an EP point of view. There are three possible
1. Joining the EP during a session
None of the enlargement rounds since the first
direct elections in 1979 has coincided with an EP election. In
each case, the new member states initially nominated their EP
members from their national parliaments and held their own individual
direct election as soon as practicable thereafter. The members
elected on those occasions served until the next elections for
the EP as a whole.
2. Taking a seat before accession
There is no precedent for an applicant to take
seats in the European Parliament prior to accession. To do so
would conflict with Article 189 TEC, which provides that the European
Parliament "shall consist of representatives of the peoples
of the States brought together in the Community". It would
also be unprecedented for applicants to participate in elections
to the European parliament prior to accession.
3. Participation in elections before accession
Although there is no precedent for participation
in an EP election prior to accession, it is in theory conceivable
that this could take place, but only if the applicant(s) and all
the existing member states agreed. It is possible that they might
be willing to do so, for example, if a Treaty of Accession had
been signed which provided for accession to take place very shortly
after the elections. In that situation, it might theoretically
be possible for the state(s) concerned to hold "shadow"
elections in June 2004, with the members then elected only taking
their seats after accession, rather than holding a separate election
at a later date. But this is uncharted territory, and it would
clearly be highly desirable for accession to have been completed
before the 2004 elections.
The Secretary of State also promised a note
on the Commission's proposal to provide duty and quota free access
to EU markets for products from least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Nevertheless, we recognise the importance of
the EU's sugar regime to certain sugar producers and refiners.
We agree, therefore, that the EU will need to consider carefully
the potential impact of this proposal, for example, in the Caribbean.
We have already made it clear to the Commission and our EU partners
that their views, and those of other interested parties, must
be taken into account. At this stage it is not possible to predict
when the proposal will be adopted.
Finally, I can confirm that, as the Secretary
of State suggested to the Committee, the UK would not accept direct
taxation becoming part of competence of the Community. At present,
Article 93 applies to indirect taxes alone and is further restricted
to areas "necessary to ensure the establishment and functioning
of the internal market". There is no express competence on
direct taxation, although there is nothing to stop Member States
agreeing Directives unanimously on direct taxes, should they wish
to do so, under Article 84.